One of the anti-laws of marketing (Kapferer and Bastien, 2009) states to forget about positioning because luxury is not comparative. This resonates due to the levels within luxury and differentiating factors between and across products and brands making them less comparable. For example accessible luxury like Michael Kors versus absolute luxury like Cartier is hard to compare positioning.
When studying the Longchamp case study for Element 1 however, the importance of positioning was highlighted. With their Le Pliage at a lower price point it was clear that brand perception was being damaged and this effected their positioning in the luxury market. Kapferer’s anti-law makes sense when comparing luxury brands at a top level like Chanel with Balenciaga but the case study demonstrated the importance of brand positioning for me as a consumer. As a Longchamp consumer with multiple bags I had never even considered the brand luxury due to the positioning of the Le Pliage bag. From learning about positioning in marketing I now understand how this confused positioning effected brand image as well as brand identity.
Using Belbins team roles (2015) I would ‘position’ myself as the ‘team worker’ during the project. I understood that being cooperative and diplomatic in the tight time frame was essential whereas my usual instincts drive me towards a ‘completer finisher’ who is reluctant to delegate. Working in a group with a one-week turnaround to present was also harder than I had initially thought due to differing schedules with work and time constraint. What I learnt was that trust in delegation of work and pulling it together as a group was the most efficient way of tackling these hurdles.
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Belbin (2015) Belbin Team Roles. Available at: http://www.belbin.com/about/belbin-team-roles/ (Accessed: 3 December 2017).
Kapferer, J-N., and Bastien, V. (2009) The luxury strategy: Break the Rules of Marketing to build luxury brands. London: Kogan Page.
The visit to Harrods with Dolce & Gabbana was my highlight of the unit. Not only meeting the amazing Harrods and D&G team which was so valuable for networking, the visit helped cement learnings in class about brand management and witness strategy in action. As someone with high street only background (H&M, ASOS, Whistles) what I did not know but now know (and also appreciate) is the importance of heritage in luxury. As the basis of what constitutes most luxury brands I had not valued heritage as part of Dolce and Gabbana; perhaps this was ignorance. I knew they were an Italian brand but seeing the installations at Harrods highlighted the true Italian heritage they encapsulate within their collection and heritage positioning strategy they implement.
From the southern Italian tiles to the traditional carts, it was clear the take over at Harrods was shaped by Stefano and Domenico’s cultural heritage which translates into their collections. This message was consistent across the collection and different areas especially the marketplace which oozed experiential consumer experience. Gaining true insights from Elodie, the Global Retail Merchandising Director at D&G, I learnt that D&G really source their DNA as a brand from their creators.
Kapferer and Bastein (2012) said ‘Luxury brands are powerful identities able to reassure and seduce by the dream they create. They propose a world of its own which consumers with to immerse themselves’ and it is safe to say I felt transported to their world. From the adverts in Italy, to the orange displays and the D&G pasta, I wanted to be a part of the dream they created.
(Photo’s taken of the traditional tiles and cart information at Harrods)
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Kapferer, J.-N. (2012) The New Strategic Brand Management : Creating and Sustaining Brand Equity Long Term. London: Kogan Page.
The importance of building a strong brand identity and the subsequent brand image portrayed is one of the most valuable learnings I am taking away from the SFM unit.
I have learnt that adjusting strategy can help recreate and refresh brand identity. Adapting the 4 M’s model (Varley et al., 2018 forthcoming) Saint Laurent updated its image by rebranding and recreating its value proposition by utilising its competencies.
Men – They re-vitalised their primary resources and hired Hedi Slimane as creative director. He maintained a singular vision and a consistent approach to transform Yves Saint Laurent into Saint Laurent Paris focusing on highly commercial products.
Money – Saint Laurent increased advertising spending and reinvested significantly into communications to promote their change to a younger rock and roll archetypal brand.
Minds – With a new brand personality, they also re-envisaged their brand reputation. Hedi Slimane created a new ‘mood’ for the brand looking to youth and pop culture. Engagement was ensued by intense marketing and advertising and they have created a devoted tribe of followers. A positive brand image is created through these marketing campaigns that use ambassadors like Marilyn Manson to reach these consumers.
The brand now implements a user oriented positioning. Adapting image and identity has successfully generated a new brand DNA for Saint Laurent and subsequent equity. This unit has helped me understand how strategic choices revitalised the brand.
Dazed (2017) Saint Laurent Music Project. Available at: http://www.dazeddigital.com/fashion/article/15951/1/saint-laurent-music-project (Accessed: 7 December 2017).
Varley, R., Gee, E., et al. (2018 forthcoming) Fashion Management: A Strategic Approach. Chapter 2 & 4.
Following a year in industry I have noticed that my attitude and approach to learning has improved. Having experienced industry, I can relate certain topics to my own experience and feel I have a deeper understanding of the business world.
Learning about strategy and management has improved my observation skills and analysis. Being able to dissect choices and suggest strategies has improved my employability as these are transferable skills required in any business environment. Going forward I will be sure to interact with my more strategic and planning focused mind to further enhance these skills.
I realise I have gained a greater understanding about branding and marketing from SFM unit. This has changed my perception on what my plans will be during university and after graduating. Using Mintzbergs Safarai Strategy (2009), my intended strategy had been to return to ASOS as an established MA and work within the high street sector. Learning about luxury management and specifically the role of branding has created changes to this strategy as I have learnt something new and a field I wish to explore further in the practical work environment. These emergent elements have led me to create a SMART objective to reach a new realized strategy: By the end of the academic year, I will have gained intern/work experience within marketing/branding at a non-high street brand. This will help broaden my horizons giving me a taste of a new area within the industry which may have further impact on the future of my employment.
The teachings in this unit have taught me that I need my own corporate strategy (e.g. realised plan) and the way that I brand and market myself will help me achieve this.
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Mintzberg, H. (2009) Strategy Safari. United Kingdom, Harlow: Pearson Education Limited.