Push the envelope right into the high-end home.

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Photo by Joshua Oluwagbemiga on Unsplash

One of the things I see time and time again is high-end home brands shying away from cutting-edge marketing. They often follow the trends instead of making them. In a historically traditional industry, I see why some brands keep their marketing conservative, but I want to challenge that mentality.

I have been thinking back on a few projects. Over the years, some of the most successful work I have done with my clients happened when we pushed the boundaries and took a risk to position them as category leaders.

Viking Range, a client I had the opportunity to work with for over two decades before it was purchased in the early 2000s, was one of the first. When we were launching its product line, the celebrity chef movement was in its infancy and Food Network was a small cable network still finding its footing.

We took Viking to Food Network and led the way in product placement, before product placement was commonplace. If you watched one of the network’s shows, you were seeing Viking products on almost every set. This led to long-standing relationships with the network and many well-known chefs – Bobby Flay, Giada De Laurentiis, Ina Garten and the like. And while it may have seemed subtle, it led to unprecedented credibility for a relatively new brand.

Years later, it was time to take the now ubiquitous brand to the next level. This time the vehicle was bespoke experiences and content. Something I would venture to say no one in the industry was doing yet.

By leveraging the culture created around the Viking brand, we launched something we called The Viking Life. It was content marketing, an online culinary portal and a travel club – all in one. Once-in-a-lifetime experiences that could not be garnered anywhere else.

By partnering with the Culinary Institute of America, Viking took clients to exotic locations to experience food in new ways. Through The Viking Life we were able to cultivate a more meaningful relationship with consumers by offering them enriching content and experiences, giving them a taste of The Viking Life and adding value to their ownership experience.

To take the experience to a broader audience, we enlisted a colleague to serve as a journalist/blogger to write about her experience. Content creation before content creation was commonplace – stories were shared on a dedicated website that was promoted to the target audience. The goal: not to promote the benefits of the kitchen appliances, but to build advocates for the life that could be lived as a part of the Viking family. And allow those who could not attend to experience the Viking life in other ways – through smaller kitchen appliances, cooking schools and recipes.

It was not long after this that Viking was named the #2 Breakout Brand by Fortune magazine (second only to a very popular technology product by a brand named after a fruit).

Today, we are working on some cutting-edge virtual and augmented reality projects for clients like Hestan at this very moment – and I can’t wait to share with you when they are finished.

It is often a misperception that affluent customers shy away from cutting-edge trends and technology. In fact, those affluents that have the most influence on their peers (a group that Ipsos calls “Affluencers”) are early adopters in the areas of technology, innovations and new products (Ipsos).

A few things I take away from my past experience that could help your brand:

  1. Stay on top of future trends and don’t hesitate to take a calculated risk, if it aligns with your brand. If you do, you may be too late to the game and lose the chance to been seen as the leader in your industry.
  2. Authenticity matters. If you are not true to your brand, your plans will likely fall flat.
  3. When you are the leader, there will be followers and copycats eventually. You must keep pushing the boundaries.
  4. The cutting edge of a movement is not always a new technology – it can be a movement or an idea – BUT don’t shy away from new technology; it is one of the trends that is not going anywhere soon.

If you have an idea for your brand that you want to discuss, email me at [email protected].

Chris Ray

Chris Ray is founding editor of Upward Home, an online resource for marketers of high-end home brands.
Find more information from Chris on Twitter and LinkedIn.