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Elevate Your Brand Using Luxury Principles: Q+A

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The following questions were asked during our live masterclass event. As we ran out of time to answer them all, authors JP Kuehlwein, Wolfgang Schaefer and Drew Boyd have kindly provided the answers here.

Q: Does Burberry's partnership with IBM fit this Ueber brand/target model in your views?

JP: The Burberry/IBM trainee partnership fits with what we call working on the “Dream” – particularly the ‘higher-end purpose’ component to it. If we understood right, this partnership is all about leveraging blockchain technology to allow for product traceability, ultimately enabling product lifecycle management and transparency on the product’s environmental footprint to all stakeholders. 

WS: The question is in how far Burberry will make such steps a core part of its purpose (like Stella McCartney, Eileen Fisher or Patagonia do) or whether it will rather be used as a ‘point of parity/defence’ on sustainability, given the industry is under ever more severe scrutiny. The latter is probably more in line with the brands DNA.

Q: Could you share more about the rules/values of luxury and creativity?

DB: Luxury has a code with 76 drivers that can be grouped and combined to a more manageable number – 15. These drivers, when present, signal the market that luxury is present. Consumers understand and respond to them. Creativity is a code as well. Research shows that most innovations in the world can be explained by just five patterns:

  • Subtraction – the removal of a core element
  • Task Unification – the combination of tasks into one component
  • Multiplication – the copying of an element with a required qualitative change
  • Attribute Dependency – the correlation of two attributes of a product or service
  • Division – the cutting, either physically or functionally, of a product or a component then rearranging it

When you mash these two codes together, you get the Creative Luxury Process as described in Adding Prestige to Your Portfolio.

Q: Are there lessons for luxury brands to be learned from the creative luxury process? Do product development and brand management work closely together in your experience?

DB: Yes, the best brand teams have a strong, two-way channel of communication with the technical teams. When reaching for prestigious, luxury-like levels in the brand’s portfolio, the two teams must work closely to be successful. Otherwise, the product will confuse the market with a solution that seems half-baked.

Imagine taking a brand like Peloton and finding ways to upgrade it to prestige levels. Without the right technical, material, and functional improvements to the existing product, customers won’t be impressed with something that is prestigious in name only.

Q: How do/can large FMCGs 'detox' from the drug of mass marketing approaches and instead 'dream, do, dare'?

JP: That is the 150-billion-dollar* question. We find it to be an evolutionary process rather than an overnight conversion. What still works well is to see competitors succeed with the DDD model: As we discussed in the event, ‘Big CPG’ has lost a lot of premium dollars (sales and margin) to what they considered ‘niche brands’ and have even seen them gaining market leadership in many categories if not by one brand (Burt’s Bees in lip balm, Chobani in yoghurt, …) then in aggregate (‘craft brews’ in beers, ‘indie brands’ in cosmetics…).

Also, the more social and interactive media, and the transparency and scrutiny by customers that go with it, has pushed CPG giants to open up. They are gradually evolving from their ad-based push communication to a more interactive relationship with their customers and stakeholders at large (retailers, suppliers, cultural and societal stakeholders, etc.)

*one consultancy’s rough estimate of global CPG ad and promotion spending!

Q: How can I get started defining luxury in the context of my business?

WS: Buy Brand Elevation and start with ‘Step 1’, where we lead you through elevating your specific business step-by-step.

Q: What are some common mistakes you have seen brands make when trying to make a product 'premium'?

WS: The most common mistake is to just call a product ‘premium’ or add on some ‘shine’ (e.g., precious materials or equivalent). However, Prestige is earned not claimed, making it even more about what you do than what you say.

Q: What examples of effective accessible luxury branding/marketing have you seen?

JP: Many, including the several dozen we talk about in the book from Apple, Acqua Di Parma, Airbnb, Aviation Gin, Allbirds, and more. We invite you to explore them in detail.

 

Did you miss the masterclass? You can still watch the full recording of Elevate your brand using luxury principles.