What happens when you've got a very average product but want to convince customers that it belongs in a more premium category? If you're marketing a mid-range product, here are the five tools you need to do it...
Logo & Branding
Logo design not only conveys a message about your brand, it indicates to customers how much you have invested in your brand. If you settle for a design that is rushed, cheap and not particularly impressive or interesting, that's exactly what you're saying about the company and products it represents.
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This is one area where it really is worth working with a professional designer to create the right messages about your brand – logo included. Thoughtful design that works well both in physical spaces (like packaging, marketing materials and on the side of a van) and the digital worlds of websites and social media will demonstrate to your customers that you have a serious, motivated company that is worth investing in.
The subliminal cues used in packaging design usually tell customers everything they need to know about the quality of your product before they've even opened it. Luxury goods usually opt for pared-back packaging design, using sharp colours that are frequently linked to extravagance like black, white, gold and silver. Even when choosing a proprietary colour for your brand (think "Tiffany Blue"), do your research to understand the basics of colour theory before settling on a hue.
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The materials you use will also send a certain message. Compare a box made of wood against ones made from cardboard and plastic. Each material suggests something about the cost and longevity of the product inside (possibly with environmental connotations, too). This applies right down to the labelling of your product; a bespoke metal badge looks more hardwearing, expensive and luxurious than a thin paper label that peels away at the first sign of moisture.
Language has a strong influence on how customers think about your product. Take Starbucks coffee - rather than "small", "medium" and "large", beverages come in "tall", "grande" and "venti". These words were specifically chosen to evoke the romance of Italian coffee bars, transporting customers away from a generic American experience and into a luxurious house of coffee connoisseurs.
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Whatever you're selling, look at its features and how it relates to the premium buzzwords of your industry. The current generation of consumer is highly-focused on social and environmental factors, so highlight if your goods are sustainable, organic or handcrafted – tell their story wherever possible.
The quality of your product visuals tells your customer all they need to know about the quality of your product. Once you've created a positive first impression with good photo, most buyers can forgive much of the environment in which they eventually experience whatever it is you're trying to sell. For example, the majority of premium alcoholic spirits are seen in local pubs and supermarket aisles that are nowhere near as trendy or sexy as the bar they're advertised in. Despite that, consumers still link aspirational prestige to their Sipsmith gin and Fevertree tonic, over whatever the house standard might be.
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Amateur shots of luxury goods will fail to secure the appropriate status, while professional pictures of a mediocre offering will make it look high-quality and appealing. Restaurants are a great example of this, where perfectly good food is made to look unappetising in shiny, poorly-lit and badly-adjusted menu pictures. Conversely, fast-food giants pay thousands to food stylists and expert food photographers to make even the cheapest, greasiest meals look delicious.
Pricing & Choice
When you're trying to occupy a premium space with your product, the secret is to limit the amount of options available to your customers. By only offering one high-end option, you eliminate the confusion over which item in your range is the "best" and will make every customer feel satisfied with their selection.
A great example of this concept is the iPhone. There are only ever one or two models available (albeit in a range of shades), so consumers are prepared to shell out a higher cost – they know they're getting the best available product. On the other hand, the Apple watch was released in a whole range of models, varying from $400 to $17,000. Every customer paid a significant sum of money, but those paying the lower price lost the feeling of buying something premium, while those at the top end of the scale were left questioning what exactly made their watch $16,600 better.
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When it comes to pricing, the contrast effect is a great way of getting customers to pay exactly what you want. Position your product as the "Goldilocks" option between a budget version and an over-priced model and the majority of customers will find it the most appealing. Restaurants use this all the time – you're not expected to fork out top dollar for lobster (although they're quids in if you do), but they also know customers don't want to look cheap. By pure psychology, their expensive pasta dishes look "mid-range" in comparison and are ordered at every table.