The Less Obvious Reason Why Luxury Brands are Still Investing in Print

Forced to give up print – it’s the sad reality that many publishers believed this was necessary when it became obvious that they needed to pay attention to digital. Yet there’s one niche that’s held firmly onto their print titles, while still creating a solid digital presence for discovery. And for those brands, it’s paying off in diamonds.

Print, as Aisling McCarthy notes in Media Update, has become a luxury good, and it’s indispensable for brands looking to reach high-end consumers.

“For luxury brands, print design is always going to be one of the most brilliantly effective mediums to deliver exceptional brand cues,” writes the London-based agency SO Creative.  “When compared to digital, print design delivers in ways that the latter simply can’t. Digital isn’t going anywhere, we all know that. From a branding point of view it provides a (usually) necessary consumer/audience touch point. But when it comes to conveying the subtle qualities of taste and authority, print is simply miles ahead.”

More and more lately, the talk is less about the death of print and more about print’s luxurious future, as luxury brands skip digital and stick to print to engage their audience. The high-end paper, the rich glossy, the gorgeous photography, the upscale content – luxury magazines have an extraordinary pull.

Yet there’s something else about print that we don’t often talk about – its exclusivity. 

About digital, McCarthy notes, “no matter how upmarket your website, anyone with an internet connection can see it.” True luxury brands, on the other hand, need to keep that velvet-rope appeal, according to the folks at SO Creative.

“Real luxury brands have to carefully select a few privileged people and provide them with a view from Mount Everest [where] the view is a little more exclusive … The internet’s ubiquity harms luxury brands’ exclusivity,” their post continues.

It’s an interesting point and comes down to basic brand building. Are you for everyone, or are you for a specifically chosen few?

“The exclusivity aspect of print comes from offering magazines at a premium price, as opposed to a free-to-view website,” McCarthy explains. “Printing on high-quality paper, and with high-resolution pictures, gives a feel of a quality product, which is worth spending money on.”

It’s a couple of layers deep, this idea of exclusivity and brand building, but it’s worth understanding. You can visit a high-end website…even if you can’t afford the jewelry. You can look at those luxury car videos and dream, even if your credit score is dismal. Luxury advertisers really don’t care about having that kind of mass appeal and wide access.

A print ad, on the other hand, will appear in a magazine that a customer has to pay for, a customer with money who’s willing to invest a bit of it in a luxury publication. These are the buyers that pay off for luxury brands. It’s why print has been called an effortless platform for connecting these brands with the right people.

Let’s stop assuming that every brand needs to be on every channel. The premise of good marketing is to be in the right place at the right time with the right message. For high-end brands that are looking to engage their readers, glossy, yummy quality print is the right place.