Masstige Brand Positioning

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OBJECTIVE:

The objective of this study is to verify the positioning of the new luxury brands in relation to traditional luxury brands and middle range brands, and to draw implications for both academics and practitioners. In other words, to show that in terms of perceived prestige new luxury brands are substantially closer to traditional prestige brands than middle-range brands. In terms of price, however, they are substantially closer to middle-range brands than traditional luxury brands.

INTRODUCTION:

A masstige positioning strategy is viewed as very innovative and effective because it combines a successful prestige positioning with a broad appeal but with little or no brand dilution. Such a strategy has made some of the new luxury brand owners the largest firms in their industry in terms of revenues. Traditional Traditional

Luxury Brands Luxury Brands

New Luxury Brands

New Luxury Brands

Middle-Range Middle-Range
Brands Brands

Perceived Prestige Price

As shown by Figure, in terms of perceived prestige, new luxury brands are substantially closer to traditional prestige brands than middle-range brands. In terms of price, however, they are substantially closer to middle-range brands than traditional luxury brands.

In the marketing battle for share of the middle-class wallet, the front runner is a new category of products and services - 'Masstige'. Call it a premium-mass or more literally, a combination of mass market and prestige brands, but it is fast finding favour with consumers who have aspirational tastes, but down-to-earth value-consciousness.

It's a strategy that enabled Motorola to create a growing niche in a market dominated by Nokia. It's the inspiration behind Vijay Mallya's shot at the red-hot civil aviation market with Kingfisher Airlines, and it's the reason why the Murjani group is chalking up big plans for international brands like Jimmy Choo, Gucci and Calvin Klein. It's why FMCG behemoth Unilever is attempting to raise the bar on its positioning for Ponds and Lakme. It's the phenomenon which Michael Silverstein, senior VP & director, Boston Consulting Group, has tracked over years in the US - and it's already touched the burgeoning upper middle class in India.

It's behind the success of premium offerings from LG and Samsung. Top-end LCD TVs, for instance, are masstige products, with all kinds of value-adds, yet not entirely out of the reach of consumers. When Vijay Mallya, chairman & CEO, Kingfisher Airlines, started operations in 2004, low-cost carrier models were in vogue. Yet, the thought of joining the fray never crossed Mallya's mind. "Kingfisher is priced on the higher side and provides the best service. And we have one of the highest load factors in aviation. I didn't want to be a low-cost transporter, period. I have a premium image to maintain," he is emphatic.

His thoughts stem from the confidence that while there is a large consumer base of bargain hunters, there is a growing segment willing to pay a premium for service. Vijay Murjani, MD, Murjani Group, has shifted base to Mumbai from New York to tap the phenomenon. "It is perhaps one of the few growing markets, where consumers are looking to trade up and premium brands are just coming into the market," says the man who launched the iconic Gloria Vanderbilt denim brand in the US. So Murjani is busy putting together a blueprint to distribute brands like Calvin Klein, Gucci and Jimmy Choo to name just a few. The Tommy Hilfiger brand was launched in 2004, and Murjani says that it's now worth Rs 100 crore locally. From an initial nine stores, Tommy will be available in 20 outlets by the end of the year.

A similar attempt is on at Hindustan Lever. Nitin Paranjpe, executive director, home and...
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