What is Lifestyle Marketing? [Definitive Guide]
35 years ago, one of the most iconic Super Bowl advertisements aired during a break in the third quarter of the 1984 Super Bowl.
Despite being aired only once, this ad has come to be regarded as the best TV ads of all time.
It is also credited with kick-starting the epic Super Bowl advertising frenzy where the ads that show during the Super Bowl have become as important as the game itself.
If you are still wondering which ad I’m talking about, I’m talking about the commercial that introduced the Apple Macintosh to the world. You can check out the commercial here.
When Apple launched the 1984 commercial, they were trying to introduce their new product in a market dominated by IBM.
However, if you have watched the ad, you might have realized one conspicuous thing about the commercial – it does not show the product being introduced.
You would think that to grab a huge chunk of the market, Apple would talk about the amazing features and specifications of their new computer and how it was better than existing IBM computers.
Apple knew that the features approach was unlikely to be effective. Instead, they opted for an ad that seduced people.
The ad created the idea that the Mac was for people who are different and rebellious. It created the idea that by buying the Macintosh, people would be participating in something big – they would be stopping IBM from becoming the Orwellian big brother.
Seduced by the idea of being different and feeling rebellious, people couldn’t wait to get their hands on the new Macintosh, despite Apple not mentioning any specifications of their new computer.
In the three months following the airing of the 1984 commercial, Apple sold over $155 million worth of Macintosh computers.
Apple’s 1984 commercial is a great example of lifestyle marketing.
Since then, Apple has stuck to the lifestyle marketing approach and managed to create a great fanaticism around its products.
This is why thousands of Apple customers around the world queue outside Apple stores whenever Apple launches a new iPhone, despite each flagship iPhone being one of the most expensive handsets in the market at the time.
But what is this lifestyle marketing that creates such a fanaticism around products?
WHAT IS LIFESTYLE MARKETING?
Gone are the days when a stunning ad was all it took to grab the attention of consumers and get them thronging to your stores.
Today, almost every company can produce a stunning ad, and consumers have become tired of the traditional ads that constantly try to convince them to buy one product or the other.
Clever marketers realize that in order to get their brands heard amidst all the noise in the advertising space, they need to take a different approach.
Instead of trying to convince consumers why their products are the best, these marketers create a seductive aura around their products such that the consumers crave to buy their products and get associated with the brand.
To make this concept easier to understand, let’s for a moment think about the dating scene in college.
On one hand, we have the ordinary guys who try woo girls by taking them on dates, getting them flowers, taking them to movies, and so on.
In other words, they struggle to convince the girls why they should date them. We can compare traditional marketers to these ordinary guys.
On the other hand, there are the extraordinary guys, such as the college football or basketball superstar, or guys who excel at some other activity.
These guys have an aura of greatness around them. They have the cool factor.
These guys don’t struggle wooing girls. Instead, it is the girls who actually try hard to get the attention of these guys, because they know that being associated with such guys will also make them look cool. In the marketing world, lifestyle brands are these extraordinary, cool guys.
Before we define what lifestyle marketing or a lifestyle brand is, we should first start by understanding what a lifestyle is.
A lifestyle is a mode of behavior based on a set of interests, activities, ideas, attitudes, opinions and other characteristics that set a particular group of people or culture apart from other groups and cultures.
A lifestyle defines who people are, how they see themselves, or who they aspire to be and gives a sense of meaning and purpose to their lives.
When applied to marketing, lifestyle marketing becomes a marketing approach that where a brand ties itself to and embodies the aspirations, ideals, values, and aesthetics that their target market identifies with.
By doing so, lifestyle brands create the idea that using their products or being associated with their brand takes people closer to the kind of lifestyle they want to live.
The video below is a good example of a brand taking its customers closer to a certain lifestyle.
Brands that use the lifestyle marketing approach have realized that the lives of most consumers are pretty boring.
You wake up, spend your whole day at work, come back and spend some time with your family in the evening, spend the weekend lazing around and repeat the whole routine the following week.
While this is the reality of life, many of us aspire to live a different life, a more exciting life. We want to become more athletic, fitter, more adventurous, more rebellious, more fashion conscious, and so on.
It is this desire to live a different kind of life that lifestyle marketers appeal to.
They associate their brands with the kind of lifestyle we aspire to live, such that, by buying their products, we feel like we are actually part of those living that lifestyle.
For instance, if you wear a brand like Nike, you feel like you are part of the athletic community.
When you wear a pair of vans, you identify with the skateboarding subculture.
When you ride a Harley Davidson, drive a Jeep or drink a Red Bull, you feel more adventurous, even if you haven’t really changed your daily routine. If you wear a brand like Prada, you assume a luxurious, wealthy, identity.
Aside from making you feel like part of a certain lifestyle, lifestyle brands also motivate and inspire you to actually start taking action to start living that kind of lifestyle.
Consumers also feel that by publicly associating themselves with a lifestyle brand (usually by using its products), they will be seen by others to be part of the particular group that is characterized by that lifestyle.
Most lifestyle brands have some shared characteristics. These include:
- They don’t try to sell to everyone. They cater for and connect with a niche audience. They understand this audience very well and know what makes them tick.
- They have built a devoted, cult-like following and community around the brand and its products.
- They have built an emotional connection with their audience.
- They inspire their audience to live a better or more exciting life. Because of this, they have cultivated the trust and respect of their target audience.
- Their content and marketing activities are more focused on their audience rather than their products.
WHY YOU SHOULD CONSIDER LIFESTYLE MARKETING
If the success of brands like Apple, Vans, Red Bull, and other lifestyle brands is anything to go by, I can confidently say that lifestyle marketing is an effective approach to marketing.
This effectiveness stems from the fact that successful lifestyle brands put a lot of effort into understanding who exactly their target customers are, what their values are, what they want to achieve in life, and who they want to become.
They understand what drives and inspires them in life. They then use this information to craft marketing campaigns that connect with customers on an emotional level.
There are a number of reasons why the lifestyle marketing approach might be great for your brand. These include:
Values and Attitudes Fuel Behavior
Lifestyle brands understand that people’s behaviors, including their buying behavior, is fueled by their values and attitudes.
It does not matter how good your product is. If it does not align with a customer’s values and attitudes, there is a fat chance they won’t give a hoot about all its amazing features or benefits.
Consider a young lady buying a pair of Nike shoes. The lady probably does not even run, and therefore they don’t really care about the treads on the shoe or other qualities that make it a good running shoe.
They might buy the shoe just because it makes her look like an active lady who cares about being fit.
Even if you are selling a utility product, there is a high chance that there are several competitors with similar products.
The customer will go for the product that makes them feel good about themselves.
Lifestyle brands understand this, and therefore they put more effort into deconstructing the customer’s values, attitudes, aspirations, and other factors that influence the customer’s behavior.
They know what inspires the customer and motivates them to take action.
By injecting these factors into their marketing, they stand a better chance of getting a customer to buy a product compared to simply focusing their marketing on the products features.
Lifestyle Marketing is More Likely to Cultivate Customer Loyalty
The iPhone is one of the most expensive smartphones out there, if not outright the most expensive.
Yet people spend hours waiting on queues to buy the latest iPhone once it launches, even if there are cheaper smartphones with similar features.
Every time a new iPhone is launched, many of those who buy it do so despite having the previous version of the phone which is working totally fine.
Despite other brands like Samsung trying to convince users why they are better than the iPhone, many iPhone users have remained unmoved.
Many iPhone users also use other Apple devices.
This is an unprecedented level of loyalty to a brand. This kind of loyalty stems from the fact that, when they buy an Apple product, they know they are buying more than a product. They are buying a lifestyle.
Therefore, they don’t care if other products are better, because they don’t represent the same lifestyle.
Similarly, if your brand sells a lifestyle rather than simply selling a product, it becomes easier to create such a high level of consumer loyalty.
Provides a Great Source of Long-Term Revenue
Many lifestyle brands deal in a range of products, instead of being focused on one single product. For instance, Apple produces smartphones, computers, tablets, and music devices. Vans deals in shoes, clothing and accessories.
Urban Outfitters deals not only in stylish but edgy clothes, but also funny books, home décor, and records.
Nike, which started as a sports footwear company, expanded to apparel, accessories and equipment.
Since consumers associate the lifestyle with the entire brand rather than a particular product, this increases the likelihood that customers who purchase one product will sooner or later purchase other products from the same brand.
For instance, many iPhone users also do own a MacBook or an iPad.
This not only provides a great source of long term revenue when the company launches other products, it also increases the lifetime value of customers.
Creates a Community Around the Brand
One of the greatest benefits of lifestyle marketing is that it creates a community around the brand.
For instance, Nike has created a community where people who wear Nike products can share their fitness milestones.
Harley Davidson has built a community of adventure-loving bikers, and even hosts events and meet-ups to bring together Harley Davidson riders.
Lululemon has built a community that encourages their customers to lead a healthy, active lifestyle. It even hosts free yoga classes and other events and festivals for its customers.
Not only do these communities increase customer loyalty to the brand, the members of these communities also act as brand ambassadors, generating a lot of word-of-mouth marketing for the brand.
HOW TO CREATE A LIFESTYLE MARKETING STRATEGY FOR YOUR BRAND
So far, you already know what lifestyle marketing is and the massive benefits it can bring to your brand. In this section, we will look at how to create a lifestyle marketing strategy for your brand.
Before we get into how to create the strategy, I want to emphasize one thing.
Creating a lifestyle brand takes a lot of effort. It is not a one of thing. It is a long term strategy.
Ultimately, your audience should see your brand as a representation of the vision they are trying to achieve.
If you align your brand with a certain group’s or culture’s values, ideals, and aspirations for a short duration and then move to another group or give up the lifestyle marketing approach, you risk having your brand being seen as fake.
You should also keep in mind that lifestyle marketing is all about creating an idealized image of who your target customers want to be or what they want to achieve, and then showing them how your product can help them achieve that idealized image.
In other words, it is not about designing the best sports shoe, but rather showing your customers how your company will make them a better athlete.
Of course, your message will be more believable if your shoe is actually the best for sports activities.
Below are some steps on how to create a great lifestyle marketing strategy for your brand:
Define the Lifestyle You Want to Sell
The first step to building a successful lifestyle brand is to determine what kind of lifestyle you want your target customers to associate with your brand. To do this, you need to conduct a thorough research of your target audience, with greater focus on psychographics rather than demographics.
Find out what activities your target customers are interested in, what their values are, what their opinions are, what inspires them and gives purpose and meaning to their lives, what success means to them, the people they admire, and so on.
Once you figure out what their goals and aspirations are and the kind of lifestyle they would like to lead, perform an internal research on your products and determine how your products can help them move closer to their goals and desired lifestyle.
This will provide you with the unique angle that you will use in your lifestyle marketing efforts. For instance, Red Bull customers like to live bold, adventurous lives, and Red Bull provides them the wings to do whatever adventurous thing they want to try.
Create a Captivating Brand Story that Highlights this Lifestyle
Simply telling your customers that you can help them live their desired lifestyle is not enough.
In order for them to believe you, you have to show them that your brand is an embodiment of that kind of lifestyle, that it represents the same ideals and values they identify with.
The key to doing this is to weave the desired lifestyle into a captivating brand story.
For instance, Red Bull’s brand story has always been about giving people the energy and ‘wings’ to go for the impossible and set new milestones in sorts and culture.
Engage Your Audience
To create a successful lifestyle brand, you have to interact with and engage your audience in a personal way. Remember, most lifestyles appeal to a person’s sense of self-expression.
People have the inherent desire to express themselves others and be identified by their lifestyle.
If you go through your Instagram feed, you will notice that friends who are obsessed with fitness will have a lot of gym pictures on their page. Your biker friends will have a lot of posts about motorcycles and the biking culture.
This is because they want to express themselves and be identified with this culture.
If you are building a lifestyle brand, your brand should also take part in personal conversations with its audience and allow the brand’s personality to be seen by customers.
When your audience interact with your brand and realize that the brand has the same kind of personality they admire or identify with, they are more likely to form a connection with the brand.
Fortunately, social media has provided a great way for brands to interact with customers in a personal way.
Create Outstanding, Authentic Content
The kind of content you share also plays an important role in establishing your brand as a lifestyle brand.
Every piece of content you put out should show your brand’s personality and lifestyle and should connect with your audience on an emotional level.
Most of your content should not be focused on hard selling.
Focus less on your products’ features and benefits and more on how the product can help your customers live the kind of lifestyle they aspire to live.
A good way to do this is to take advantage of user-generated content.
For instance, a lot the content on Red Bull’s website is not focused on the brand itself, but on the amazing feats members of the Red Bull community have been able to achieve.
Not only does this put greater emphasis on the lifestyle, it also makes the content more authentic.
Build a Community Around Your Brand
If you want to achieve success as a lifestyle brand, you should start building a community of followers around your brand.
The good thing with lifestyles is that people who share the same lifestyle like interacting with each other and sharing their experiences concerning the lifestyle.
A great way to build a community around your brand is to create a platform – such as a website, a Facebook page, a Twitter hashtag, or even a real-life event – where people who share the lifestyle promoted by your brand can interact with each other.
This will enhance the perception of your brand as a promoter of that lifestyle.
For instance, we have already seen how Nike has a forum where customers can share their athletic milestones, and how Harley Davidson hosts physical meet ups for Harley Davidson riders to meet and interact with each other in real life.
Lifestyle marketing is an effective form of marketing that is focused on tying a brand to the values and ideals of a particular group of people that aspire to live a certain kind of lifestyle and showing them how the brand can help them attain that lifestyle.
If you want to create a lifestyle marketing strategy around your brand, you should start by defining the kind of lifestyle you want to sell, then weave that lifestyle into your brand story, engage and interact with your customers, create outstanding, authentic content, and build a community of followers around your brand.