Marketing Lifestyle Brands
Lifestyle brands, regardless of industry or product, embody the values, beliefs, aspirations, and attitudes of their particular target audience. They create a ‘subculture’ around their brand, and engrain it, along with their product, service, and story into their consumer’s way of life.
These types of brands are on the rise as consumers demand more than being sold to – they want a lifestyle rather than a one-off product purchase. It’s no longer just about owning a Rolex, it’s about living the lifestyle of someone who owns a Rolex.
Here, we look a little more in-depth about what a lifestyle brand is, what it means to consumers, how to build one, and marketing your lifestyle brand.
What Is a lifestyle brand?
Lifestyle brands create the vision and feelings of the specific lifestyle their consumers aspire to.
Simply put, a lifestyle brand creates products, services and – importantly – stories that are based on the lifestyle its consumers aspire and desire to live.
They are brands that tap into and influence our emotions, aspirations and ideologies. They create a connection that embeds their brand into their consumers’ personal identity and creates a sense of belonging to a community or a mindset they admire. They don’t sell high heels, they convince consumers that they can be high-flying business women – and that their brand can support them.
They are the brands you follow on Instagram even if you don’t own anything they sell (yet). You follow them because you feel like they represent something about you and the people you want to associate with.
This is key. A lifestyle brand has an incredibly deep understanding of their target consumers way of life; not just their demographics, but their psychographics. They understand the types of experiences they crave, as well as the people, places and things that motivate and inspire them – and tailor their brand accordingly. Without this knowledge, they could not evoke an emotional connection, create desire, or inspire their audience.
The ultimate goal of a lifestyle brand is that their products contribute to the definition of their consumers’ way of life.
Read the brands a group of LIM college students published as being the Top 5 Lifestyle Brands of 2018.
Characteristics of lifestyle brands
Lifestyle brands have common characteristics – does your brand tick these boxes?
- They connect with a niche audience – and know what makes that audience tick.
- They have a devoted, highly engaged following.
- They answer an emotional desire.
- They are respected and trusted by their target audience, and inspire loyalty.
- Most of their content is about more than their products.
We like this quote from Medium – “The existence of lifestyle branding hasn’t changed. What has changed, however, is the role that lifestyle brands have played in our lives over time.”
What’s the difference between a ‘regular’ brand and a lifestyle brand?
The second half of the definition above from the American Marketing Association is what really sets lifestyle brands apart from regular brands. They go further into the ideologies and psyches of their target audience in order to help them connect with a more ideal version of themselves.
Regular brands sometimes do this temporarily in short-term campaigns, normally in order to achieve a certain sales goal. For example, this could be a campaign aimed at parents during the back-to-school period, or a pre-Christmas sales offer. This may work for a short period of time, but the next campaign may have a slightly different focus. Lifestyle brands, however, are building a long-term connection with the core of their consumers’ identity.
While emotional storytelling is increasingly commonplace, regular brands still often feature their product or service front and center. A lifestyle brand, in contrast, showcases its consumers’ experiences and lifestyle over its product in order to create a stronger association with, and an emotional desire to have, that lifestyle. Outdoor Voices is a great example of a brand doing this.
Storytelling itself also sets lifestyle brands apart. We are hardwired for stories on a personal level, and this can be used in business too. Stories, when they’re authentic and resonate with your audience, help consumers connect with you. Lifestyle brands create stories that are so compelling that consumers simply want to have their products in their lives.