Creating luxury brands is a difficult marketing exercise. It requires heavy investment in marketing communications, excellent product/service quality, but above all these brands have to try to remain fashionable, which is notoriously difficult. Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Vertu are three successful so-called luxury brands, that retail to the high-end market. Both Gucci and Louis Vuitton are well-established brands that have been around for decades, even centuries. However Vertu, is a relatively new kid on the block, having only entered the luxury communications marketplace in 2000. Vertu sells expensive mobile phones that retail for thousands of pounds. Only a handful of brands can create a high status appeal among the world’s super rich (e.g. Ferrari, Rolex, etc.). These brands have to adopt innovative marketing strategies in order to succeed in this dynamic environment. What do they do differently to create this luxury appeal?
Marketers are moving from the traditional marketing mix approach towards greater use of experiential marketing. This is where customers are treated as both rational and emotional individuals that seek ‘experiences’ from products. The key is to engage customers in a memorable experience around the product/service, developing a relationship with customers and creating an affinity with them. The central aim of experiential marketing is to create an emotional attachment between the brand and the customer. Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Vertu provide this experience through their unique product image and features, their outstanding service, their exclusive retail environment, their pricing, their selective channels of distribution, their distincive packaging and the overall benefits associated with their unique brand images. To promote a product to the high-market it is important that the customers have the right experience so that the desired feelings, images and perspectives become linked with the product/service and their marketing programme.
It is necessary for the brand to convey a personality that the customer can relate to, or wish to aspire to and then communicate this to others. Consumers of these brands feel that they too are fashion and design conscious, that they too are wealthy, and that they are part of the “in-crowd”. In many cases, luxury brands are tapping into the “aspirational” buyer market; luxury brands are offering products at different price points in the hope that sometime during the customers’ lifetime they will trade up to their more exclusive ranges. However, the risk of ‘democratising’ the brand is that they may lose their aura of exclusivity – as it can be obtained by anyone.
Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Vertu rely on the imagery of their products to appeal to the high-end market. The prestigious pricing of their products creates a high quality image and positions the goods in the mind of the consumer as a status symbol. The success of Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Vertu can be attributed to quality of service, brand image, retail environment, management structure and above all their ability to combine these factors to create an exclusive experience. We will now take a closer look at how these companies became what they are today, while focusing on unique product features and image, their brand imagery, retail environments and channels of distribution.
Table 1 - Comparison of Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Vertu
| Gucci| Louis Vuitton| Vertu|
Established| 1921| 1854| 2000|
Sector| Fashion and Design| Luxury Goods| Luxury Communication| Products| Men and Women’s Wear,Shoes, Jewellery, Watches,Perfumes, Eyewear, Home goods, Luggage/Handbags,Baby Wear.| Leather goods, ready-to-wear, shoes, watches, jewellery, textiles, writing instruments & accessories. Famous for its handbags.| Signature CollectionStainless Steel CollectionDuo Stainless...