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The Rise of Lifestyle Branding in Travel

by Jeremy Kressman + Skift Team - Mar 2016
Aviation
Digital Marketing
Digital Media
Hospitality
Social Media

Skift Research Take

Why are brands like Apple, Disney and Nike are among the world’s most valuable? Because they’re able to embody a lifestyle, offering consumers access to an emotional connection that goes well beyond their product offering. As more travel companies look to redefine their offerings around the lifestyle brand concept, often with limited resources to do so, what strategies will they use to grow and thrive?

Executive Summary

The stakes for global consumer brands have never been higher. As companies like Apple soar to market capitalizations in the hundreds of billions of dollars, making them among the world’s most valuable, many in the travel industry are taking notice. What they’re grasping about the success of Apple, and other companies in this top tier of brand excellence, is their increasing embrace of the philosophy of lifestyle branding.

World class brands like Nike, Disney, Coca-Cola and BMW that succeed with lifestyle branding embody the interests, attitudes, and opinions of a particular group or culture of consumers. They do so by using their products and services to help inspire, guide and motivate people. Apple has succeeded not just by selling computers but by selling the idea of beautifully designed, consumer-friendly technology as a way of life. Nike, on the other hand, has gone from selling running shoes to a symbol of an athletic-focused community of competitors and sports enthusiasts.

Plenty of travel-industry brands like Virgin America, ACE Hotels and Airbnb have also carved out unique lifestyle brand niches as well. But creating a lifestyle brand requires a significant amount of commitment, marketing excellence and resources to pull off. For every company like Apple that spent nearly $1.8 billion on branding efforts in 2015, there are countless other firms in the travel space with limited resources struggling just to stay on top of the latest social media platforms.

What lifestyle branding strategies are marketers in the travel industry using to redefine their brands for consumers and differentiate themselves from competitors? And what obstacles do they face to accomplishing these strategies now and in the years to come?

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