Print… The New Indicator of Brand Chic

Almost five years ago I was seeing clear evidence of print’s luxurious future. I saw the perfect confluence of  Millennials – often assumed to be tech-savvy and digital leaning – are growing weary of the constant tech in their lives and often prefer print, and marketers who were looking to print as the secret weapon for luxury brands.

Enter the new decade, and it’s pretty clear we read the signs correctly. Print is all ooh-la-la for brands looking to engage a high-end audience.

“While online marketing has brought unimaginable success to many brands in different industries by driving sales with a cost-effective and efficient advertising spend, it seems luxury brands are “over it” as they will dial back their digital advertising spend in 2020,” writes Julia Gundlach in PACE.

These luxury brands realize they must return to the “pillars of the luxury industry – quality, design, authenticity and craftsmanship, the characteristics that made these brands successful to begin with. These luxury brands need to better communicate their brand story and values to affluent customers in an engaging, informative and welcome fashion as digital marketing campaigns lose their luster among audience members,” Gundlach explains.

They are going about this in two ways – creating their own custom print to create a trusted base, and returning to print advertising in established print publications.

“Interestingly, print still seems to be a desired choice of audience readers and a more effective way for a luxury brand to communicate to its affluent target market without jeopardizing the integrity of the brand and its value,” Gundlach continues. “As luxury brands prepare their annual marketing plans for 2020, more will be integrating print in branded content creation with digital spend to push an elevated brand messaging across channels.”

What we saw happening in 2015 – print publications being slowly re-categorized as affordable luxury goods – is now very much the case. Print quality and prices have risen, as print is seen as a channel that holds its value in a world were digital is gone in a flash.

By 2018 luxury brands were already making the shift, spending more on print ads than digital. And FIPP’s Luxury in Media report 2020 underscores an industry that is “all about physical experience, high-quality and impact’ and how printed products deliver on marketing respected products and services,” as Piet van Niekerk wrote last year.

Of course, there were plenty of naysayers back then, but they don’t seem quite so loud these days. Even digital-first brands want to be in print to engage their tribe, and audiences flock to niche lifestyle magazines like The Property Brother’s new title Reveal.

The pendulum has swung back, folks, especially for luxury brands looking to engage the higher end reader. So it’s time to ask – where’s your money? Are you still all-in on digital, or have you been pulled by the compelling and luxurious future of print?