Fashion & Luxury Goods are part of the retail sector which use brand values to elevate the subconscious demand for their products. These brand values communicate with their target client group as part of a lifestyle selection such that brands can position themselves alongside similar brands with complimentary brand values. There is a whole ecosystem of brands that segment our high streets in a way that avoids confusion in the client groups. In this way luxury brands actively discourage the engagement with clients in the wrong disposable income group by the use of sumptuous boutiques on the most exclusive shopping streets with uniformed doorman guarding the entrance. Displaying “view by appointment only” is a surefire way of discouraging the casual shopper. By occupying a rarefied environment at one extreme of the shopping experience these businesses have very special challenges of high fixed costs, low sales volume and fast changing tastes. Businesses select different approaches to maintain their niche position with some outlined here:
“Innovator” is typified by a fast moving brand that is constantly renewing their image and instigating change in a provocative way. These brands lead where other follow after a discrete time interval with a moderated version of the same offering by which time the target client group of the innovator brands, the early adopters, have already moved on. These businesses and brands are the trendsetters and must have huge reserves of creative dynamism to continue to occupy this space without which they must hope to consolidate a loyal client base that age with them or become obsolete rapidly.
“Diffuser” is a trusted and established brand, which can translate trends into a mainstream format that can be accepted by the majority of the population. The large fashion houses combine both the Innovator role with the Diffuser role by trend setting in their “Haute Couture” worn by few except the runway models whilst filling their shops with a tempered range of less extreme products which can communicate and diffuse the trends into a more approachable product. The role of the Haute Couture is to reassure the client that they are still “trendy” whilst the diffuser product is the shop often very reliable and everyday. The reality is that the price point of the goods are such that all but the very smallest group of clients can afford to buy an extreme piece that can only be worn in very limited social settings. The bulk of the range must be flexible enough to fit in several different social settings.
“Traditional” is brand position that is taken by some luxury brands to manage the high cost position created by managing the perception of the brand in the eyes of the client group. By resisting trends the product cycle can prolonged and the client group selected are those that look for less or no innovation in their product choices. These brands rely on traditional techniques and raw materials to justify their niche. Made to measure tailoring and hand made shoes typify this niche. Innovation can be tolerated if the client demands it but caution is taken not to undermine the traditional elements that define the niche.
“Mainstream” is a brand position that is beyond that of the Diffuser role in that it is not required to show that the brand is “trendy” or connected. The brand in of itself is accepted as a known quantity that rests in the collective consciousness of the general public. These and the leviathan brands that use several different channels to market to segregate the different client groups from each other whilst maintaining strong loyalty in each channel. Haute Couture and exclusive boutiques for the affluent client base carefully segregated from perfume and cosmetic sales at airport duty free shops. Shoes bags and accessories are the linking products that enable aspirational buyers to link themselves to the catwalk by a long and tenuous thread.
In all cases a continuity of brand concept is important in everyway in which the target client group encounters the brand. If the brand breaches the brand values that the target client group holds with their brand then they will alienate the clients. This has been done intentionally by some brands as a requirement to reposition the brand with another client group. Done well an old brand can be rejuvenated, poorly and the brand will commit suicide.
Luxury watch brands invest 20 to 30 years of advertising revenue into building the dream which creates an aspiration to own in the target client group and often only achieve a conversion to buy as a once in a lifetime experience of watch ownership. Today the different channels of communication available means that brands can navigate in a more complex World than before. The benefit of the internet and social media is that smaller brands can now create a better targeting of their client group at lower cost than ever before.
The Per Astra Fashion & Luxury Goods team has years of experience in building brands and operating businesses in the fashion and luxury goods sector. Any review by Per Astra will start with assessing the current brand value and positioning held by the business in question. The desire position will then be compared with the reality and a strategy developed to deliver the desired repositioning if that is achievable. The reality of any brand is that it is a set of values held in the collective consciousness of the public. In the case of fashion and luxury good it is not always possible to achieve the repositioning of a brand even at any cost. In some cases it is better to start from a different place if the gap is too large.