Luxury Marketing for Royalty: The Queen of Royal Branding

This month saw Queen Elizabeth II celebrate her 90th birthday. Aside from curtseying our respects for reaching such an impressive milestone, we thought it a good opportunity to look at how she, and other members of the Royal family, continue to influence the world of luxury marketing, now worth an estimated £167 billion.

She has reigned for 64 of those illustrious years. That’s over half a century as one of the most recognisable and influential people on the planet – which, by anyone’s calculations, is an incredibly long time to have inspired and triggered all sorts of luxury business trends.

Top of the list must be the fashion industry. As one of the most photographed people of all time, her outfits have been a source of scrutiny for decades. So much so, that a new exhibition has opened this month, first in Scotland and travelling to London later in the year: Fashioning a Reign: 90 Years of Style from the Queen’s Wardrobe. Vogue have written a good piece on this, cataloguing how the Queen’s image has ebbed and flowed to reflect the many changes in women’s fashion since the 1950s.

The most obvious instance of the Queen directly influencing luxury marketing in the fashion industry can be seen in some of Dolce & Gabbana’s 2008 collection, where the Italian fashion powerhouse claimed to have been directly inspired by her style. And that’s not a one off. Apparently, this autumn we’ll all be wearing block colours and tartan prints from the likes of Chanel, Gucci and Burberry – all inspired, once again, by Her Majesty.

Away from the world of frocks and fascinators, the Queen’s next biggest (and most diverse) area of influence is via The Royal Warrant. This is the royal seal of approval that can only be granted by the Queen, her husband the Prince of Edinburgh and her son, the Prince of Wales. It’s given to businesses that have supplied the royal household for at least five years. To date, they have granted 883 Royal Warrants and the list of businesses is, as you might imagine, amazingly diverse.

The Royal Warrant

Water Treatment Engineers, chocolatiers, builders, mechanics, breweries… the list goes on and on. Now obviously these aren’t all operating exclusively in the luxury sector, but that’s merely a testament to the array of businesses the warrant recognises. That said, there are plenty of notable luxury brands in there too.

We picked out Lock & Co. Hatters, Laphroaig, Hunter Boot Ltd, The Goring Hotel and Asprey as four very different luxury brands all flying the Royal Warrant flag, which shows how the Queen’s influence spreads in such diverse directions as the whiskey, millinery, rubber footwear and hospitality industries. All of these brands proudly display the warrant’s logo on their websites and accompanying marketing tools, informing British consumers of their royal associations. But what of the global marketplace? Is it worth publicising this royal connection when looking for consumers away from these shores? Well, considering the latest research conducted by Warwick Business School on Chinese attitudes to the royal family, they’d be mad not to.

Professor Qing Wang’s report highlights the Queen’s effectiveness as a global marketing tool. Carried out across 13 Chinese cities, the results are unequivocally supportive for all things royal. Not only did 57% say the Royal Warrant influences their buying decisions but 16% said they buy British goods directly because of the Queen, with 27% claiming to get style inspiration from her too (Dolce & Gabbana can claim some forward-thinking credit there).

So, in short, the Queen is great for brands and businesses in general. Both at home and abroad, her influence is pretty significant. And though she is totally incomparable to any other figure, it’s interesting to note how the new generation of royals are starting to have their own influence on global trends too.

The other week President Obama dropped in to say hello to Prince George and a photo of the two of them shaking hands quickly spread like wildfire across the internet, with many media outlets paying particular attention to the royal toddler’s bathrobe and pyjamas.

President Obama greets Prince George of Cambridge, third in line to the British throne

The result? His outfit sold out within hours. If that’s the effect he has as a two year old, then we can only imagine what his impact on brands might be as he gets older. And we’re probably not going out on a limb to suggest Princess Charlotte’s influence will probably be even greater. Luxury brands, we’re sure, will be there every royal step of the way.