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Sweetening the Cookie-less Jar: What Luxury Retailers Need to Know for Future-Proof Success

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While 80% of U.S. marketers report being very reliant on third-party cookies in digital advertising, the reality is here: cookies are going away. However, even amidst significant disruptions like data deprecation, advertising continues to perform well in today’s world, specifically in the luxury retail sector.

While there is no true cookie replacement, there is an opportunity for brands to still target and reach luxury customers to have the same, if not better, impact and experience with a brand. It starts with adjusting your organization’s thinking and processes to adapt to the new data-deprecated, cookie-less world.

In fact, despite the loss of cookies, contextual relevance is still crucial for success, and many media buying opportunities are available across and within the walled gardens and ecosystem. Cookies aren’t necessary to find ways to reach and showcase your brand in a relevant way with potential customers. The future is not about user-level identification but rather about data-driven strategies that make room for a test-and-learn mindset.

With data at the core, we have outlined a few key considerations that will give luxury brands — and those beyond the luxury sector as well — the chance to preserve their resilience, stay ahead of the curve and be prepared for any unknown in the future, without relying on cookies.

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The Future is Data-Driven

The key imperatives of tomorrow’s successful luxury players, and indeed brands across industries, center around data-driven strategies backed by holistic measurement solutions. Having a clear picture of how every aspect of the business works together is critical not only for long-term success but also for balancing quick wins with sustained growth in the short term.

Seize Geographical Opportunities: Globalization, China and Beyond

From a geographic standpoint, the Chinese market and customers will become the most important buyers for luxury, representing more than 45% of global purchases in 2020 (vs. 35% in 2019). Brands that are looking to expand or invest further into China should be aware of the market dynamics and act accordingly. We are seeing a need for robust measurement frameworks to capture the branding media inside and outside of the large platforms like Tmall, because last click reporting overstates or understates the role of different marketing channels by 2X to 10X. Rising globalization highlights the fact that although the industry has grown increasingly reliant on cookies, they have never truly been a globally workable solution.

Shifting from Product to Customer-Centricity

Generation Y (born between 1980 and 1995) and Generation Z (born after 1995) will be the biggest buyers of luxury by 2025, representing more than two-thirds of global purchases.

In parallel, the rise of influencer marketing not only provides an engaging story for young and high-net-worth consumers but also leverages their significant online following base to drive reach. However, before engaging with an influencer, luxury players need to ensure clear objectives and KPI alignment internally, to avoid damage to their creative control and, most importantly, their brand perception.

Take an Omnichannel View

In addition to selling merchandise, digital channels have joined TV and OOH as essential inspiration touch points in the early phase of the consumer journey. Ultimately, it is the way in which both online and offline channels work with one another that creates the greatest positive impact. In fact, research from the Analytic Partners ROI Genome demonstrates that a combined increase of both digital and brick-and-mortar presence can lead to up to 32% higher returns.

Become the Brand of the Future

Consumer journeys are becoming longer and more complex, so brands need to be active with more touch points, focus on giving back and generate emotions through marketing activities. However, even the most authentic message can be lost in the noise without an effective deployment strategy. Our ROI Genome shows that serving ads in the right context can support business growth and ROI improvements on average of +31%.

Accelerate Technological Transformation

Luxury brands have been slow to embrace digital, but given the shift to online shopping and the fast emergence of new digital-first luxury brands, they need to quickly catch up. From an operational standpoint, companies should adopt advanced analytics to generate competitive advantage and value creation to boost performance. Establishing a robust, holistic and credible analytic framework that doesn’t rely solely on user-level data is important to help optimize marketing investments.

Goodbye Cookies, Hello New Opportunities

As behavioral targeting becomes more challenging for marketers in this world of cookie deprecation, brands should look at new ways and formats to serve ads and connect with their prospects and customers. With this constantly changing landscape, it becomes imperative that marketers adjust their brand’s strategies to adapt, evolve and thrive to reach growing luxury retail audiences — starting with the format of the advertisement itself.

With the number of marketing channels being utilized and measured having grown by three times in the past five years, it is safe to say that new opportunities are all around us and growing quickly. Now a picture is worth a thousand words – but what about a video? Findings reveal that in fact video has two times the half-life of non-video advertising, with video advertising ads becoming 160% higher in subsequent weeks after airing.

While different types of delivery mechanisms, sales channels and messaging have changed over the years, fundamental concepts of advertising and marketing such as awareness, recency, and synergy remain constant.

Embracing Change While Making an Impact

Change is inevitable, and while many marketers are being impacted by the loss of cookies, my goal is simple: help change the narrative to see the positive in a cookie-less world. Instead of seeing data deprecation as a loss, it is important to change your perspective to help identify new opportunities that do become available and avoid the kind of cookie-focused tunnel-vision that can lead to luxury brands missing out on other key factors for success.

When it comes to your luxury retail marketing strategy, a global sensibility rooted in data-driven decisions offers a clear path forward.


Mike Menkes is an SVP at Analytic Partners with 20 years of experience in analytics and marketing measurement, including expertise across a wide variety of different types of industries, brands and countries. Menkes helps oversee AP’s Client Engagement Team and is responsible for the company’s ROI Genome research, which provides strategic insights, intelligent benchmarking and thought leadership for our clients and the marketing and analytics industry.

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