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A lifestyle brand is a brand that attempts to embody the values, aspirations, interests, attitudes, or opinions of a group or a culture for marketing purposes. Lifestyle brands seek to inspire, guide, and motivate people, with the goal of their products contributing to the definition of the consumer's way of life. As such, they are closely associated with the advertising and other promotions used to gain mind share in their target market. They often operate from an ideology, hoping to attract a relatively high number of people and ultimately become a recognised social phenomenon.
A lifestyle brand is an ideology created by a particular organisation's brand (Schmitt, 2012). An organisation achieves a lifestyle brand by focusing on evoking an emotional connection with its customers, creating a desire for a consumer to be affiliated with a particular group or brand. Furthermore, the consumer will believe that their identity will be reinforced if they publicly associate themselves with a particular lifestyle brand, such as expression by using a brand on social media.
As individuals have different identities based on their personal experiences, choices or background (including social class, ethnicity or culture), an organisation must understand to whom it directs its brand. By operating off a lifestyle brand ideology, an organisation's ultimate goal is to become a recognised social phenomenon.
Lifestyle brands operate from the idea that each individual has an identity based on their choices, experiences, and background (e.g. ethnicity, social class, subculture, nationality, etc.). Lifestyle brands focus on evoking emotional connections between a consumer and that consumer's desire to affiliate him or herself with a group. Some recent contributions have defined lifestyle brands as one of the possible ways of consumer self-expression: customers believe that their identity will be reinforced or supplemented if they publicly associate themselves with a lifestyle brand or other symbol-intensive brands.
- Factors that influence consumer decision process
It is evident that consumers in our modern world continually face multiple decisions with regard to product choice due to many competing products, such aspects as a products attributes have been shown to be involved in the consumer decision process (Catalin & Andreea, 2014). A number of factors can be identified that affect a consumer's choice of product brand which influences their lifestyle. Consumers are known to choose a brand that is acceptable to their self-image that they are trying to portray. This has left companies having to re-establish and position their products to ensure they meet the lifestyle a consumer is trying to obtain. They have an opportunity to refine their target market which would limit competition due to a reduced number in consumers who would be attracted to their specific brand because of the way they might perceive their lifestyle.
Consumers have a tendency to evaluate product attributes as opposed to a case by case assessment (Ainslie and Rosii, 2005). There is the need for brands to be understood and how they can be influential with regard to consumer's decision making considerations. Three processes are identified as being intertwined in choice behaviour. These are psychological, sociological and economic processes (Keller, 2008). Within these three processes lifestyle of the consumer also becomes intertwined with consumers tending to choose a brand they feel is congruent with their self-image, their identity – who they feel they are and what they connect with the most. Vyncke (2002) suggests that a consumer's values, goals and vision for their life along with aesthetic style are all reflective of individual lifestyle.
- Consumer self-expression
Consumers use brands to express their identity (Chernev, Hamilton & Gal, 2011). The need for self-expression can be related to the need for acceptance within society and the societal view on brands and how different brands portray income or wealth. An advantage to lifestyle brands is that consumers can express their identity in a number of ways. This is a dominating factor that would lead on to the consumer adopting a certain lifestyle. Brands allow for customers to express themselves and portray their identity and lifestyle (Keller, 2008). Lifestyle brands in particular portray a type of meaning that allows a particular reference group to attach themselves based on their lifestyle, values or beliefs (Escalas, & Bettman, 2005).
- Perceived brand value
If a consumer loves fashion this will have a positive effect on his/her willingness to pay for a luxury, top-end brand. In order for a lifestyle brand to be successful and dominate market share it needs to enhance customers experiences and provide more than just a product. Consumers are more willing and likely to purchase a brand that establishes itself as to value and satisfaction. Brand value is defined as comparing focal brands with unbranded products that have had the same level or same ways of marketing to consumers, as well as adopting the same product attributes (Yoo and Donthu, 2001).
Luxury brands target those that have an extreme lifestyle. Price is never a factor. Three categories are identified as measuring brand value: brand loyalty, perceived value and brand awareness/association. Consumers associate themselves with luxury fashion brands to portray their lifestyle and separate them from the rest (Vigneron & Johnson, 2004). Social value is an aspect that relates to consumers' desire to obtain luxury brands that they hope will offer them a symbolic part of a group or culture. There are emotional factors that are connected to the consumption of a luxury brand: for example those that bring pleasure or excitement (Choi & Kim 2003; Kim et al., 2010; Vigneron & Johnson, 2004). Consumers who purchase luxury brands tend to have a strong social function within their social class.
- Retail brands
Lifestyle retail branding is the way in which retailers refine their products or services to interest lifestyles in specific market segments (Helman & Chernatony, 1999). Examples of lifestyle retail brands include Laura Ashley, GAP and Benneton. These retailers offer a distinct and recognised set of values to consumers. Over time, a number of retailers have come up with their own brand strategies and are now seen as lifestyle retail brands because they are targeting consumers who adopt their brand to align themselves with a lifestyle they want to obtain (Helman & Chernatony, 1999).
It is important for an organisation to understand its brand's role amongst consumers. To achieve this, an organisation must use the following aspects of the lifestyle brand model (Schmitt, 2012).
- Brand categorisation
This is defined as a consumer sorting products or brands into categories, based on their past experiences with that brand (Schmitt, 2012). It is used to avoid confusion, as consumers may be overwhelmed when comparing one product with an extensive range of other brands of the same product (Nenycz-Thiel & Romaniuk, 2016). Categorisation helps consumers evaluate the quality of the product (Catalin & Andreea, 2014). For example, a consumer may choose to purchase an Apple iPhone over a Huawei mobile phone, as they may believe that the iPhone has a better camera quality (Nenycz-Thiel & Romaniuk, 2016).
- Brand affect
This aspect is defined as the effect or influence a brand may have upon an organisation and its consumers (Orzan, Platton, Stefanescu & Orzan, 2016). For example, Whole Foods can affect a consumer by going the extra mile to offer organic foods products that suit that particular consumer's needs (Yi, Batra & Siqing, 2015).
- Brand personality
This is when a brand encompasses a consistent set of traits in which the consumer can relate (Cohen, 2014). For example, Crossfit is a lifestyle brand which encompasses the idea of pushing yourself for your fitness. This idea is consistent on a global level. Through this lifestyle, consumers or participants have the opportunity to feel a part of a group of healthy, motivated fitness fanatics (Qing, Rong & Xiaobing, 2015).
- Brand symbolism
This is defined as the strong symbolism that a brand transmits to its consumers, which is adopted for its social benefits (Kubat & Swaminathan, 2015). It allows consumers to feel as though they can express themselves through a form of identity, whilst being provided with a sense of belonging to a group (Wu, Klink & Guo, 2013). For example, Tiffany & Co. are a jewellery brand which offer affordable and expensive, high-quality jewellery products. When a person sees a consumer wearing its product in public, that person may aim to own a piece of Tiffany & Co. jewellery themselves, with the aim to seek social benefits or fit into a particular group (Athaide & Klink, 2012).
- Brand attachment
Attachment is brought about when people form an emotional connection between themselves and a brand (Malar, Krohmer, Hoyer & Nyffenegger, 2011). For example, Coca-Cola uses advertisements to portray its happy lifestyle to consumers. These advertisements are used to form an emotional connection with the audience. Through the use of the “Open happiness” slogan, consumers may believe that by purchasing and consuming a Coca-Cola drink, they will feel like they are happy and having fun (Malar, Krohmer, Hoyer & Nyffenegger, 2011).
While some lifestyle brands purposely reference existing groups or cultures, others create a disruption within the status quo and propose an innovative viewpoint on the world. The driving force may be the product, the shopping experience, the service, the communication or a combination of these elements. These are often result from visionary goals of the CEO or founder. Early on, Apple's founder Steve Jobs sought to integrate the company's innovations into the industries of music, entertainment, and telecommunications. In 2002, he gifted each 7th- and 8th-grader in the state of Maine with a laptop, in an effort to show that it wasn't "about the technology, it's about what people can do with it." Lee Clow—the chairman of Omnicom Group's TBWA Worldwide and Apple marketing partner—said that Jobs had "a very rigorous view of Apple's tone of voice and the way it talks with people," calling it "very human, very accessible." Burton has built its lifestyle brand by drawing on the snowboarding subculture and Quiksilver has done the same with the surfing community.
Some lifestyle brands align themselves with an ideology. Patagonia proposes an environmentally friendly way of life. Volcom, with the promise "Youth Against Establishment", gives a label and a sense of belonging to those who are "against" the world of adults.
One popular source for lifestyle brands is also national identity. Victoria's Secret purposely evoked the English upper class in its initial branding efforts, while Burberry is recalling the hip London culture[which?].
Social or personal image is also a reference point for some lifestyle brands. In the 1990s, Abercrombie & Fitch successfully resuscitated a 1950s ideal —the white, masculine “beefcake”— during a time of political correctness and rejection of 1950s orthodoxy, creating a lifestyle brand based on a preppy, young, Ivy-League lifestyle. Their retail outlets reflect this lifestyle through their luxurious store environment, attractive store associates (models), and their black and white photographs featuring young people "living the Abercrombie & Fitch lifestyle". In doing so, Abercrombie & Fitch has created an outlet for those who lead, or wish to lead or wish to dream about leading this lifestyle.
Companies like home furnishing associate themselves with the term “lifestyle branding” when they are developing their brand portfolio (“Lexington Offering,” 2009). A furniture company is likely to align new product lines with lifestyle collections that are associated with fashion icons, celebrities and well-known interior designers. For consumers this is reassuring and entices them to purchase home furnishings to be like these iconic influencers. Furniture companies have said that it helps them connect with those consumers who associate other categories with these celebrities. It is their way of tapping into new markets that have not yet been reached (Combs, 2010). Companies that have celebrity names associated with them provides a certain degree of guarantee to the brand (Clow et al., 2011).
A company called Doman Home Furnishings launched a campaign about food and kitchen products to enhance its brand as a lifestyle choice (“Domain Home,” 2004). The campaign used models which had a caption along the lines of ‘a slice of life’. This allowed consumers to gain a good understanding of the brand and the lifestyle that it could offer. Home furnishing companies use lifestyle merchandising to promote brand extension. Furthermore, the brand is communicated to consumers through using a designer who is associated with also creating fashion-apparel products. Therefore, this creates a connection between the fashion and homeware brands for these consumers are already associating with or are familiar with the fashion-apparel products.
One key indication that a brand has become a lifestyle is when it successfully expands beyond its original product. For example, Nike used to be a product-based company, focusing on making running shoes. But over time, the company and its logo has become associated with the athletic subculture. That has allowed Nike to expand into related athletic categories, such as sports equipment and apparel.
Gaiam started out as a yoga company but has had great success in developing a lifestyle brand, which has allowed it to move into other markets as varied as solar power and green building supplies. Nautica started out as a collection of 6 outerwear pieces but built itself into a global lifestyle brand by having collections for men, women, kids, home and accessories.
A company's status as a lifestyle brand isn't achieved by providing a wide range of products but by the benefit and symbolic value that the customer associates with the brand.
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