The anatomy of the luxury fashion brand Received (in revised form): 9th September 2008 Antoinette M. Fionda is a PhD student specialising in Luxury Fashion Marketing at Heriot-Watt University. Previously, Antoinette worked in both the Fashion and the Luxury Fashion sectors in a variety of areas from design to management and consultancy. Christopher M. Moore is Chair in Marketing and Head of Fashion, Marketing and Retailing at Glasgow Caledonian University. Prior to his appointment at GCU, he was Professor of Marketing and Director of the George Davies Centre for Retail Excellence at Heriot-Watt University Edinburgh.
A graduate of the universities of Glasgow and Stirling, his doctoral research was in the area of fashion retailer internationalisation. His current research interests include business models for luxury fashion retailers; fashion brand management issues and trends in fashion retailer internationalisation. ABSTRACT Purpose: To explore the critical dimensions necessary to create and maintain the success of a luxury fashion brand. Design/methodology/approach: This study adopts a qualitative approach in the form of case studies of 12 international fashion retailers.
This involved semi-structured interviews with management to explore their knowledge and experiences, supported by secondary research such as internal documents and media reports. Findings: Identi? es nine interrelated key luxury fashion brand attributes that are crucial in the creation and maintenance of the brand proposition. The management of the luxury fashion brand is complex, and requires a consistent and coherent approach. Originality/value: An empirical understanding of the luxury fashion brand’s critical dimensions will assist in effective and ef? ient luxury fashion brand management. Journal of Brand Management (2009) 16, 347–363. doi:10. 1057/bm. 2008. 45 Keywords: luxury fashion branding; brand management INTRODUCTION The luxury goods market is signi? cant, not only in terms of its market value (estimated to have exceeded US$130 billion in 2007),1,2 but also in terms of its rate of growth – which has in the past 10 years signi? cantly outpaced that of other consumer goods categories. The rate of growth has been driven by a variety of factors, the most signi? cant of which has been the
Correspondence: Antoinette M. Fionda School of Management and Languages, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, UK increase in the number of high-net-worth individuals with an appetite for luxury brand consumption. In response to signi? cant consumer interest and demand, the suppliers of luxury fashion goods have developed business strategies that seek to better service consumer demand by increasing availability through the extension of their geographic coverage and their market accessibility via the opening of © 2009 Palgrave Macmillan 1350-23IX Brand Management Vol. 6, 5/6, 347–363 www. palgrave-journals. com/bm/ Fionda and Moore dedicated points of sale. 3–5 Fuelling and supporting this development of the luxury market has been increased media interest in luxury goods consumption, and the emergence of luxury brand awareness as an integral element of consumer culture. Consequently, a variety of studies have noted that luxury brands are among the most recognised and respected of consumer brands the world over. 5,6 Within the luxury offer, there is an everexpanding offer of luxury categories.
There are four principal categories of luxury goods: fashion (couture, ready-to-wear and accessories), perfumes and cosmetics, wines and spirits and watches and jewellery. 7 More recently, the categories of luxury automobiles, hotels, tourism, private banking, home furnishing and airlines have been added. 8 The focus of this study is the luxury fashion goods category. Firstly, this focus is justi? ed on the basis that it accounts for the largest proportion of luxury goods sales, with a 42 per cent share in 2003,9,10 and the strongest product category growth in 2007. 1 Secondly, previous studies have suggested that the branding of luxury fashion goods is more complex than other sectors by virtue of the speed of change within the sector (the majority of luxury fashion goods are dormant at the end of the fashion season),2,7,12,13 as well as the scale and number of fashion items that are marketed using a single luxury brand name. Thirdly, the marketing of fashion goods is typically more complex and costly as a result of differences in product numbers, operating scale and the tendency for luxury fashion companies to take direct control of the distribution of their goods within markets.
As such, these costs and the complexity of managing the marketing of this category of luxury goods have previously been shown to exceed those of the other luxury brand categories. 8,12,14,15 Yet, despite the signi? cance of the luxury sector in terms of the insights that it could provide with respect to contemporary business practise and the nature of consumption, it has been recognised that the sector has been under-represented within the academic literature. ,12,16 Furthermore, although the literature relevant to the branding of consumer goods has grown hugely in the past decade, the application of branding within the luxury goods sector has received minimal attention. In particular, although various recent studies have sought to delineate the form and function of consumer brands, there have been very few empirical studies that have sought to identify and understand the processes that support the creation and maintenance of the luxury fashion brand. This study is based on the proposition that the luxury brand – and speci? ally the luxury fashion brand – is distinctive because of its application to diverse, ever-changing product assortments (from underwear to business suiting), that it invariably operates as an experiential brand (within the retail space), and that it functions as a means of creating and communicating an identity for the brand user. As such, it is suggested that the delineation of the form and dimensions of the luxury fashion brand will not only contribute to an understanding of the nature of luxury marketing, but will also offer further insight into the functioning of branding in general.
Therefore, it is within this context that the aim of this study was to provide a framework incorporating the dimensions of the luxury fashion brand. Given this uncertainty and neglect, and mindful of the opportunity to contribute to a wider debate concerning the nature and characteristics of product branding, two principal objectives were identi? ed for this study: 1. to identify the dimensions of the luxury fashion brand; 2. to create a framework depicting the luxury fashion brand. 348 © 2009 Palgrave Macmillan 1350-23IX Brand Management Vol. 16, 5/6, 347–363 The anatomy of the luxury fashion brand
RELEVANT LITERATURE De? ning the luxury fashion brand Conceptualisations of luxury are typically derived from either a consumption perspective5,17–20 or from an application as a product branding device. 7,21–23 There has emerged a strong strand of literature that seeks to explain luxury consumption, particularly in terms of having a symbolic function that operates at the individual and collective level. As such, luxury is identi? ed in terms of its psychological value,5 its function as a status symbol20,24,25 and as a highly involved consumption experience that is strongly congruent to a person’s self-concept. 7 From a product perspective, luxury brands are frequently de? ned in terms of their excellent quality, high transaction value, distinctiveness, exclusivity and craftsmanship. 21,23,26,27 Jackson7 proposes the following as the core characteristics of the luxury product: ‘… exclusivity, premium prices, image and status which combine to make them more desirable for reasons other than function’. (p. 158) Research on luxury brands Research relevant to the creation and development of luxury brands is limited,12,16,26 and previous studies have recognised a lack of clarity with respect to what de? es a luxury brand. 5,17,28 Instead, the research examining the marketing of luxury goods has tended to take a consumer perspective,1 speci? cally in terms of motivations for purchasing luxury goods. 20,29,30 These studies are often criticised for their over-reliance on student samples and lack of appropriate external controls. 16 Other key research areas within luxury include the development,12,31,32 the protection33–36 and the brand extension. 37–39 More recently, great attention has been given to a consideration of the dimensions of the luxury brand (Table 1).
Nueno and Quelch23 highlight the importance of product excellence to the development of a credible luxury brand, in addition to the signi? cance of controlled distribution. Bernard Arnault, the chief executive of? cer (CEO) of LVMH,41 emphasises the signi? cance of corporate identity, culture and spirit, and furthermore indicates the importance of creative excellence in luxury brand development. Similarly, the Morgan Stanley Dean Witter40 model considers the dimensions from a practitioners’ viewpoint. Phau and Prendergast28 highlight four key luxury attributes, although indicating that their identi? d attributes of recognised brand identity, quality, exclusivity and customer awareness are critical elements of the luxury brand. Beverland16 maintains that this is not an exhaustive list. Indeed, he proposes that these are instead the characteristics of any successful brand and not only that of a luxury brand. Consequently, Beverland provides additional dimensions within his framework, and these include elements such as external endorsement, corporate culture, brand/corporate heritage and product integrity. In 2003, Alleres22 suggested six characteristics of a luxury fashion brand that is derived from the strong in? ence of the French luxury heritage brands. Considering the Italian model, Moore and Birtwistle12 examine Tom Ford and Domenico De Sole’s strategy for the repositioning of Gucci as an authentic luxury fashion brand. They identify dimensions that all require careful management to develop and create a successful brand. Although the authors make no claim that the Gucci template can be universally applied, they argue that it serves to provide a more comprehensive account of luxury brand development when compared with other studies. One of the most recent models is provided by Okonkwo,2 in which she identi? s 10 core characteristics of the successful luxury fashion brand. © 2009 Palgrave Macmillan 1350-23IX Brand Management Vol. 16, 5/6, 347–363 349 350 Fionda and Moore Table 1: Overview of the key models identifying the luxury fashion brand dimensions Arnault (2000)26 Phau and Prendergast (2000)28
• • The brand name Critical mass; Global recognition
• • Product integrity
• Recognition symbols; Creations
• Value driven emergence Alleres (2003)22 Morgan Stanley Dean Witter (2000)40 Beverland (2004)16 Moore and Birtwistle (2005)12 Oknokwo (2007)2 Critical dimensions Nueno and Quelch (1998)23
Brand/marketing strategy Well known brand identity
• • Relevant marketing programme; Global reputation
• A distinct brand identity; A global reputation; Emotional appeal Product and design
• Premium quality; Heritage of craftsmanship; Element of uniqueness to each product;
• Recognisable style or design;
• Ability to time design shifts when category is fashion intensive
• • Brand image;
• A drive to reinvent oneself to be the best
• Product quality;
• Core competences and other products
• Product integrity;
• Iconic products/ design;
• Control over product manufacturer Premium price Innovative, creative, unique and appealing products;
• Consistent delivery of premium quality;
• Heritage of craftsmanship Price Exclusivity
• Powerful advertising
• Evoke exclusivity
• Increase brand awareness
• Limited production run Communications strategy
• Premium price
• Exclusivity in goods productions
• High visibility Brand leadership/ designer
• Personality and values of its creator
• Company sprit © 2009 Palgrave Macmillan 1350-23IX Brand Management Vol. 16, 5/6, 347–363 Distribution strategy
• Immaculate ? agship stores Superb customer service Endorsement
• Endorsement; Fashion shows, store displays, PR, product packaging
• The creators
• Designer PR face of the brand
• Flagship store and
• Tightly controlled store brand concept distribution
• Controlled distribution of the brand
• Heritage Heritage . Adapted from references 2,12,16,22,23,28,40,41 The anatomy of the luxury fashion brand And although Okonkwo2 states that this is not a de? nitive model, she does maintain that it provides an insight into the management of a luxury brand. Key luxury fashion brand characteristics
As Table 1 highlights, there are a number of reoccurring and divergent identi? ed key attributes within the literature, in order to create and maintain luxury fashion positioning. Within the luxury proposition, the concept of brand – speci? cally the brand name and identity – is considered fundamental. 2,7,22,42 The luxury brand requires a relevant, clear and de? ned marketing strategy. 12,16,23 The strategy is formed to assist in developing the global reputation and presence of the brand, and to leverage the brand status and awareness. 8,28 In conjunction with the concept of brand, various ther attributes are considered crucial for creating a luxury brand, including product and design attributes of quality,2,7,9,12,16,21,23,25,27,28,42 craftsmanship,2,7,19,21,23,26,42 and innovative, creative and unique products. 2,12,22,23,40,42 Bruce and Kratz13 highlight the fact that the iconic coveted products are central to the luxury product offer. These iconic products are typi? ed by authentic, quality and exclusive characteristics26,27,38 that are aspirational. These key products often epitomise the brand signature or ‘brand DNA’,23 as they can assist in portraying the personality and values of the creators. ,13 The appointment of the high-pro? le fashion designer enhances the appeal of the products,7,13 and subsequently increases their relevance to a current market. The premium price of luxury goods is only explicitly referenced in two of the frameworks within Table 1. 2,12 Although it has been acknowledged previously that a high price positioning need not necessarily equal a luxury positioning, there is a consensus in the literature that luxury goods typically command a premium price differential when compared with other products within the same category. 1,26,43 The components of rarity and exclusivity are considered a signi? cant trait of luxury brands. 21,23,26,27,44–48 The Nueno and Quelch23 and Okonkwo2 models both identify that limited production is fundamentally linked to the maintenance of the brand exclusivity. The aura of scarcity adds to the appeal of luxury brands. 49 Managers can sustain the exclusivity of the brand through advertising, endorsement, controlling distribution and price,49 and producing limited editions lines. 2,23 The environment and service provided by luxury brands are considered a crucial attributes in the luxury proposition. ,12,22,40,50,51 Luxury stores are considered shopping cathedrals52 that use architecture to convey a sense of splendour,13 and de? ne the shopping experience for wealthy customers. 13,52 The luxury environment and experience of a brand is showcased in the ? agship store, which is de? ned as a major outlet generally located in a capital city, retaining the full collection of a fashion brand’s merchandise. 52 These stores typically enjoy signi? cant ? nancial investment, and are considered crucial to a brand’s marketing communication process and reputation, and as a support for the wholesale business. 3 Company own-stores allow the companies to manage the customer experience at the point of sale. 7 Customer service is also vital in the luxury consumption experience.
2,24 Within fashion, branding has become as much about branding the experience as the product. 54 The consumption experience provides an insight into the brand lifestyle by making it a reality. 8 Along with the control of the consumer experience, Moore and 12 2 Birtwistle and Okonkwo also state the importance of controlling the manufacturer, particularly within license agreements, to ensure that the brand positioning is not compromised. 2009 Palgrave Macmillan 1350-23IX Brand Management Vol. 16, 5/6, 347–363 351 Fionda and Moore Brand heritage is considered prevalent in Alleres’,22 Beverland’s16 and Moore and Birtwistle’s12 models. Many luxury brands have a long history, which adds to the authenticity of the brand,21 and is considered one of the hallmarks of a luxury brand. 49 The retention of heritage has the ability to create nostalgia and credibility for a brand,55 and is often correlated to the heritage of the country of origin. 6 Powerful marketing communications are considered key to building the luxury brand image. 2 Relevant advertising can provide support in establishing the brand image, which consequently assists in creating identity and attraction,53,57 and generates awareness. 58 Other means of luxury brand communication are celebrity endorsement, public relations (PR), events and direct marketing. 2,12,16,52 Finally as highlighted in Arnault’s model (cited in Kapferer),26 the company spirit is considered key to luxury fashion brand success. The investment in the spirit or culture of a ? m allows the support for a brand to extend to the internal as well as an external commitment to the brand. 59 Internal branding assists the employees in understanding desire, and encourages them to deliver on the brand promise. 60–62 Despite the fact that many of the dimensions of luxury branding are identi? ed in the literature, it is unclear whether and how these attributes are connected. Nor is it clear whether this is a de? nitive listing. Furthermore, as highlighted in the review of the frameworks of the luxury brand, there is a dearth of research that empirically considers the dimensions.
Beverland’s16 paper, the only empirical investigation in Table 1, is considered narrow in its scope and therefore in its application. 12 Given this uncertainty and neglect, and mindful of the opportunity to contribute to a wider debate concerning the nature and characteristics of product branding, this study will identify the dimensions of the luxury fashion brand and depict within a framework. METHODOLOGY In order to investigate these issues, an interpretive qualitative case study research methodology was adopted, as it is considered to be the most appropriate for an exploratory theory building approach. 6,63–65 Furthermore, the number of research studies adopting case study design is increasing within a marketing context66–68 and within a luxury marketing/branding context. 12,16 There are three main reasons that support the implementation of a case study design for this research. Firstly, as the key aim of this study is to investigate the means and methods of luxury fashion brand creation and development, the use of the case study method assists in providing in-depth descriptions and illustrations rather than surface-level observations. 6,68 Thus, within this context, the close proximity with those involved in the management of luxury fashion brands provides the opportunity to obtain an intimate understanding. Furthermore, the case study method can provide contextual and historical dimensions to research,65,69 thus providing a means to consider the unique history and heritage of each brand and how these in? uence their decision-making today. 16,70 Secondly, because of the lack of empirical work in the area, this approach provides a means of extracting rich and relevant data.
Both Yin71 and Perry67 suggest that the case study method can assist in compensating for a lack of established theory and/or where accepted principles and constructs have not been established and are clearly inadequate. Thirdly, there is a dearth of conceptual development within this ? eld. The case study data facilitate the identi? cation and construction of conceptualisations of the luxury brand building process. 352 © 2009 Palgrave Macmillan 1350-23IX Brand Management Vol. 16, 5/6, 347–363 The anatomy of the luxury fashion brand
Preparation for data collection Case companies were chosen based on literal replication following strict criteria. The study focuses on British luxury brands because of access restrictions. The criteria for case study selection were established as follows: 1. The cases should be identi? ed as luxury fashion brands through both the ? rms and established databases, principally Walpole, Mintel and Euromonitor, positioning the brands as a luxury fashion proposition; 2. The potential selected brands should have been in existence for a minimum of 2 years.
This allows for a historical review of the luxury fashion brand development; 3. The ? agship stores should operate in prestige locations; 4. The potential companies should operate at least one luxury fashion store in the UK. In order to identify companies that meet these requirements, four resources were consulted: Walpole, a British luxury association;74 Mintel’s9 ‘Luxury Goods Retailing’ report; Euromonitor,3 ‘The World Market for Luxury Goods’ report; and various leading fashion journals including Vogue, Elle, Marie Claire, Arena and GQ. From these, 26 British luxury fashion brands were identi? d. Initially, all 26 companies were contacted, allowing them all an equal opportunity to take part in the study. This became a process of self-selection. Out of the 26 companies contacted, 12 agreed to participate. To preserve anonymity in report ? ndings, companies were coded (Table 2). The case brands differed in their luxury brand orientation towards heritagebased image ‘history’ or a design ‘story’based image, corporate size and the product offering. Multiple sources of evidence, documentary evidence and interviews, were used in the data collection phase to protect the research from bias. 5–77 In all the cases, a tape-recorded interview with the CEO, managing director or marketing director was conducted, which lasted between 1 and Table 2: Key to case companies and similarities and differences Company Interviewee Country of parent origin America British Japan British France Japan British France Italy Japan Japan Japan Sector A B C D E F G H I J K L Managing Director Marketing Director Managing Director Managing Director Marketing Director Managing Director Brand Manager Marketing Director Managing Director CEO CEO CEO
Heritage Brand; Jewellery extended into fashion (menswear and womenswear), accessories and home Heritage Brand; Accessories extended into fashion (menswear and womenswear) Lifestyle purist brand; Fashion oriented (menswear, womenswear and childrenswear) Savile Row Tailor; Fashion and accessories (menswear) Heritage Brand; Fashion and accessories Heritage Brand; Fashion (menswear and womenswear), and accessories Savile Row Tailor; Fashion and accessories (menswear) Heritage Brand; Fashion and accessories (menswear) Fashion oriented; Fashion (menswear and womenswear), and accessories Department Store and own fashion brand; fashion (menswear and womenswear), accessories and home Savile Row Tailor; Fashion and accessories (menswear) Heritage Brand; Fashion and accessories (menswear and menswear) © 2009 Palgrave Macmillan 1350-23IX Brand Management Vol. 16, 5/6, 347–363 353 Fionda and Moore 2 hours.
In order to ensure the quality of the research design, Yin71 suggested four criteria: construct validity, internal validity, external validity and reliability, which were jointly considered at each stage. This investigation, as an exploratory case study, satis? ed Yin’s criteria (Table 3). The interview questions focused on the history and origins of the brands; the characteristics that differentiate the selected case companies as a luxury brand; the marketing actions and investments that they invest in to assure, maintain and protect the brand over time; their manufacturing and distribution policies; and how these affect their brand management strategy.
Finally, the interviews considered the critical success factors relevant to a luxury fashion brand. The interviews were transcribed, and all the data and case materials analysed, so that a general sense of the data could be established. The important themes, the frequency of occurrence, relative importance to the interviewee, emergent patterns and areas of contradiction were identi? ed in accordance with established protocols. 82 The analysis Table 3: Case study tactics for four design tests Phase of research which tactic occurs Research design/ preparation of data collection Case study topic Tests was conducted on a case-by-case basis and then by cross-case analysis. 3,65 Thereafter, the conclusions were all veri? ed and con? rmed. The ? ndings and themes were compared with the literature on the subject area and through case report veri? cation by the interviewee and other academics. RESULTS AND ANALYSIS The cross-case analysis revealed a number of key themes that emerged from the data. The proposed themes are identi? ed as the principal dimensions of a luxury fashion brand. Within each of these key themes, various sub-themes illustrated within the cases exist (Table 4). The following presentation of the key research ? ndings is developed from nine principal luxury brand dimensions and the evidence from the case data, which is identi? d by quote number (Q1, Q2, and so on). Clear brand identity The importance of a clear brand identity and a clear understanding of the brand Reference Use theory in single-case studies Use replication logic in multiple case studies Use multiple sources of evidence Establish chain of evidence Use case study protocol Develop case study database External validity External validity Construct validity Construct validity Reliability Reliability Internal validity External validity Construct validity Yin (2003)71 Data collection Data analysis Do pattern-matching Comparison of evidence within the literature Have key informants review draft case study report
Yin (2003),71 Riege (2003),72 Eisenhardt (1989)63 and Parkhe (1993)73 Yin (2003),71 Riege (2003),72 Flick (1992)76 and Perakyla (1997)77 Yin (2003),71 Riege (2003) and Hirschman (1986)78 Yin (2003),71 Riege (2003) and Eisenhardt (1989)63 Yin (2003),71 Riege (2003) and Lincoln and Guba (1985)79 Yin (2003),71 Riege (2003) and Huberman and Miles (1994)80 Riege (2003) and Yin (1994)65 Yin (2003),71 Riege (2003) and Le Compte and Goetz (1982)81 Composition Source: Adapted from Yin, 2003,71p. 34. 354 © 2009 Palgrave Macmillan 1350-23IX Brand Management Vol. 16, 5/6, 347–363 The anatomy of the luxury fashion brand Table 4: Case study evidence Case study evidence Components inherent to the creation of the luxury fashion brand Clear brand identity
• Emotional appeal/ aspirational
• Brand values/DNA
• Global marketing strategy Q1: ‘Our brand has a strong aspirational appeal.
Our customers want to buy us not just for our beautifully crafted products but for our prestigious image and to buy a piece of our heritage’ (Company, J) Q2: ‘All luxury fashion brands need to be clear on their DNA… what makes it different and relevant as it is a very competitive ? eld out there. Everyone here works towards the blueprint for the brand and the brand values’ (Company, F) Q3: ‘(the designer) would consider us as a fashion orientated brand which has greater emphasis on classic than say avant-garde’ (Company, C). Q4: ‘We create trends- we are fashion! That is why out customers comes to us’ (Company I)S Q5: ‘We have a three year plan to develop the (brand) further internationally as well as nationally though investment in directly-owned stores, advertising and our product offering’ (Company, L) Q6: ‘The communications strategy is critical within the luxury fashion sector.
We use a combination of advertising, PR, celebrity endorsement and direct marketing to the customer. We need to be in the key magazines and broadsheets to ensure we are increasing awareness about the brand and the products’ (Company, H) Q7: ‘We need to show in Milan. It is vital for us. It is the place to show if you are serious about fashion’ (Company, I) Luxury communications strategy
• Direct marketing;
• Fashion shows;
• Celebrity endorsement
• PR Product integrity
• Functional, quality and craftsmanship
• Innovation and seasonal offer Q8: ‘Quality, it is all about quality. It should be the best materials, best craftsmanship and hand ? ished… to me luxury is something I buy today and will have in ? fty years. ’ (Company, J) Q9: ‘We invest in craftsmanship. In our ? agship store in London we have a unique workshop on the top ? oor which our VIP can visit and see their investment piece be created. ’ (Company, A) Q10: ‘As a luxury fashion brand we need to develop both a fashion and a classic offer in our range – we introduced over 10 000 products obviously not just in clothing and accessories but the greatest level of involvement comes from fashion. We have classics pieces which re? ect our heritage but we also have fashion ‘show pieces’ which keep it fresh and exciting! ’ (Company A).
Q11: ‘Compare us to luxury cars for example- we have to design, sample, manufacturer, distribute, create our own stores, sell and eventually discount on at least a bi-annual basis, although that is changing, literally hundreds of products, styles which is huge in terms of investment… whereas luxury cars or hotels have in comparison a far easier job in my opinion’ (Company, F) Q12: ‘…we always have to consider the brand handwriting, to ensure it is in keeping with the brand image… it is our iconic products which truly epitomize the brand. ’ (Company B) Q13: ‘We have just completely redesigned all of our packaging and packaging accessories as they were off-brand. It is so important that it (livery) enhances the luxury product’ (Company, B) Q14: ‘We have a very strong design handwriting. Our products and everything else for that matter must be inkeeping with that’ (Company, C) Q15: ‘For us the designers very much personify the brand- they are our spokesperson’ (Company, D) Q16: ‘…we have to be sure that prices are relevant to what they are today and to luxury’ (Company D) Brand signature
• Iconic products
• Brand livery
• Recognisable style
• Creative direction
• Consistent with positioning Exclusivity
• Limited editions
• Controlled ranges and locations Q17: ‘… Managed scarcity it is a game all luxury fashion brands are playing. We all must manage the availability and exclusivity ratio. In reality, this is the management of the pro? tability and luxury exclusive image’ (Company, F) Q18: ‘We had to close a number of licensees as they were not in keeping with our repositioned brand image. We also stopped selling to a number of our wholesale clients as they no longer matched our stockists criteria’ (Company, L) © 2009 Palgrave Macmillan 1350-23IX Brand Management Vol. 16, 5/6, 347–363 355 Fionda and Moore Table 4: Continued Case study evidence
Components inherent to the creation of the luxury fashion brand Luxury heritage
• Brand history and/or story Q19: ‘Our heritage is extraordinary so of course we are going invest in it and try to educate customers through our museum archives and website, and the products and product ranges. ’ (Company, H) Q20: ‘Everything is based around him (the designer) he controls everything. It is all about his personality’ (Company, I) Q21: ‘Our ? agship stores were designed by truly amazing architects, in an amazing building to create an amazing space to showcase our brand in a completely controlled environment which allows our customers to experience the lifestyle at our ‘Motherstores’.
We aspire to create the ideal international luxury experience’ (Company A) Q22: ‘Service is key in the luxury environment thus our staff are carefully recruited and trained to be approachable and friendly to add to the (consumption) experience’ (Company, E) Q23: ‘…the culture of the company is important you can not create a successful brand without the right management team, internal commitment to the brand and the brand vision and right external partnerships’ (Company, C) Q24: ‘We have exceptional partnerships with our licensees and manufacturers. We are strict in our management and control but we are very proud of our partners and hopefully this is reciprocated’ (Company, K) Environment and consumption experience
• Globally controlled distribution
• Superior service
• Flagship stores Luxury culture
• Internal commitment to the brand
• External partnership commitment to the brand values were apparent in each of the case companies (Table 4, Q2). Nearly all of the brands discussed the importance of a clear brand identity and values that truly differentiate and entice the consumers on a functional as well as emotional level (Table 4, Q1).
The ‘fashionability’ element was considered a brand value that was apparent in each of the brands, although with differing degrees of importance. The heritage in conjunction with the legacy of the original creator of the brand prompted the level of importance of each of the brands placed on this element (Table 4, Q3 and Q4). Each of the case companies had a developmental strategy to invest in the distribution, awareness and positioning of the brand over a 3- or a 5-year period (Table 4, Q5). proposition, the case companies employed all or a combination of the following marketing communication tools: fashion shows, advertising, PR, direct marketing and celebrity endorsement (Table 4, Q6).
All of the brands considered direct communication with the customer on a personal level an area of growing importance. They all partook in direct marketing to ensure that a relationship was developed with the customer. The investment in PR made, ‘… the brand interesting and attainable’ and raised awareness. A number of the brands also invested in catwalk shows and considered these a vital element of luxury fashion positioning (Table 4, Q7). These brands tended to place greater importance on the fashion element of the brand. Marketing communications All of the brands invested in a communications strategy. The methods differed between brands, however. To increase brand awareness and a luxury fashion brand
Product integrity This key theme emerged as signi? cant in the case companies, and within each there were several sub-categories, which included ‘product quality’ (Table 4, Q8) ‘craftsmanship’ 356 © 2009 Palgrave Macmillan 1350-23IX Brand Management Vol. 16, 5/6, 347–363 The anatomy of the luxury fashion brand and ‘attention to detail’ (Table 4, Q9). To achieve their ‘fashion status’, each of the case companies invested in innovation and creativity. A parity between the classic luxury and the fashion directional pieces was achieved through balancing the collections (Table 4, Q10). Many introduced fashion ‘show pieces’ for press or VIP customers.
Case Company J highlights the difference between managing luxury fashion and luxury goods which require higher levels of investment in management, time and resources (Table 4, Q11). of developing the luxury status of the brand. The price not only re? ected the handmade product and quality attribute associated with luxury, but also suggested the element of exclusivity of a product, as high price creates a barrier of entry (Table 4, Q16). A number of the cases employed strategies to increase exclusivity, including limited edition products and ranges, and through strategic alliances. Exclusivity Exclusivity is inherent to luxury brand positioning (Table 4, Q17) as de? ned by the literature.
Each of the case companies strictly controls the distribution and accessibility of the brands to ensure exclusivity (Table 4, Q18). Furthermore, the ? ndings revealed that exclusivity can be controlled through limited production runs and the number and typology of distributors in each of the cases. Brand signature Each of the companies recognises the importance of the brand signature and iconic products, referring to them as the ‘designers’ style’, ‘handwriting’ or the ‘brand DNA’. Each considered these inherent to the luxury fashion brand. All of the brands produce or sell numerous product categories that need to be internal, consistent and coherent, which will minimise the damage of confusing the consumer (Table 4, Q12).
Each of the brands ensured that the whole collection had a clear signature through comprehensible managerial direction initially, and then repeated meetings to ? nalise the products (Table 4, Q14). The iconic product epitomises the brand signature (Table 3, Q12). In a number of the cases, the iconic products have close connections to their heritage. The design is extended to the packaging and livery (Table 4, Q13). Each company considered it vital that the packaging cohered with the brand image. All of the case companies identi? ed the importance of a design team (Table 4, Q15) and invested in eminent designers to work on various products of their collections to ‘… raise and punctuate the fashion element of the brand’ (Company D). Heritage
All of the case companies have extremely interesting histories, and each has highlighted the value of remaining faithful to the historic positioning (Table 4, Q19) or the founding and current designer (Table 4, Q20) of the brand because this strategy has the ability to add and maintain the brand’s authenticity. For example, Company C produced a book illustrating its history, and retained original features from the leather production process; and Companies A, J and H preserved their history through an extensive exercise of attempting to buy back archive pieces and by reproducing products or design-based products from their archive collection. Luxury environment and experience All the representatives identi? ed the signi? cance of both the store environment and superior service to brand luxury creation.
Firstly, the store environment is typi? ed by the ? agship store, which was considered Premium price The importance of price was clearly identi? ed by all of the respondents as a means © 2009 Palgrave Macmillan 1350-23IX Brand Management Vol. 16, 5/6, 347–363 357 Fionda and Moore crucial by the Chief Executive of Company C, as ‘it is an important part of what the consumer is paying for’. Company A considered the London ? agship the ‘motherhouse’, as it is the home of the brand (Table 4, Q21). The ? agship was considered to require the greatest investment but it provided the paramount experience. A number of the representatives also highlighted the fact that the ? gship store actually assisted their licensing and wholesale business. For the business-tobusiness customer, the store provides an insight into the personality and soul of the company, which assists in the development of a working relationship. Other distribution methods included boutiques, wholesale and licensee. The level of investment decreased accordingly, however, as did the level of control. The service provided by all the case study companies was considered superior to other fashion brands and the more diffused luxury brands. The companies claimed to provide this level of service for their customer, as it added to the experiential dimension, which was considered essential for luxury (Table 4, Q22).
Many of the brands offered personalised service, which included staff spending hours with a client, direct personal phone calls and merely ensuring the shopping experience is made as easy as possible. Clearly, each of the companies views this as an inherent quality that a brand should offer their consumers. Control over the distributors, suppliers, manufacturers and licensees was considered crucial in the creation and maintenance of the luxury fashion brand. nies recognise the importance of the right people working internally to create the brand, from management to the staff on the shop ? oor. Furthermore, within the organisation there is a need for honesty, integrity, morality and teamwork, as without these the message created would be false.
In conclusion, each of these aforementioned components is considered important in the creation of a luxury fashion brand, as each add to the luxury brand image and positioning. The research ? ndings identi? ed the interrelated components of a luxury brand through an examination of the actions undertaken with each of the representatives of the case studies. This builds on the ? ndings of the literature, which either discussed luxury brands on a surface level or considered the concept from a generic perspective rather than speci? cally to the luxury fashion market. Discussion Figure 1 illustrates the various components inherent to the luxury fashion brand as derived from the ? ndings of the research.
The model identi? es nine key components that are inherent to the creation of a luxury fashion brand. Each attribute consisted of a number of sub-categories, which all must be consistent in order to create the brand. The ? rst major dimension identi? ed was the clear brand identity. Clear brand identity relates to the symbolic nature and the intangibles of luxury brands and the future development and investment into the brand. The fashion element of each of the brands has a strong correlation to the brand values. Although each of the brands clearly has a fashion element, they place differing levels of importance on and investment into the fashion factor.
The second component, marketing communications, refers to the common methods employed to create awareness, which include fashion shows, celebrity endorsement, advertising, direct marketing, events sponsorship and PR. Each of these Culture The management of the internal and external relationships with the brand was developed through the company culture (Table 4, Q23 and Q24). This aspect assisted in the luxury brand proposition authenticity, according to Case Company C. The culture of a brand refers to the expertise behind the brand. All of the Case Compa- 358 © 2009 Palgrave Macmillan 1350-23IX Brand Management Vol. 16, 5/6, 347–363 The anatomy of the luxury fashion brand Recognisable Style Brand Livery Direct Marketing; Sponsorship; Fashion Shows; Celebrity Endorsement Advertising; PR Innovation & Seasonal Products Functionality, Quality & Craftsmanship
Global Marketing Strategy Creative Direction Iconic Products Brand Values/DNA Marketing Communications Emotional Appeal/ Aspirational Product Integrity Design Signature Consistent with positioning Clear Brand Identity Premium Price LUXURY FASHION BRAND Culture Exclusivity Internal commitment to the brand External Partnership Commitment to the brand Environment and Service Globally Controlled Prestige Distribution Superior Service Heritage Limited Editions History and/or Brand Story Exclusive Ranges DOS & Flagship Stores Figure 1: The components of a luxury fashion brand. methods needs to be coherent and to work towards a common goal of increasing consumer awareness.
The subsequent category considers the product integrity, and includes various elements such as quality, craftsmanship and attention to detail. The fashion element within the product is derived from investment in innovation, creativity and the appointment of an eminent fashion designer, which together allow a company to achieve the luxury fashion status and integrity in this attribute. Within the product range, the importance of design signature along with iconic products, eminent designers and brand livery was considered vital in the creation of a luxury brand. The importance of price relevance was clearly identi? ed in the literature19,26,43,83–86 and similarly by each of the case companies.
The following component, exclusivity, relates to accessibility of the brand and the need for this to be strictly controlled, in terms of product availability and distribution, in order to be coherent with the rest of the attributes. The subsequent component relates to the history and heritage of a luxury brand, which © 2009 Palgrave Macmillan 1350-23IX Brand Management Vol. 16, 5/6, 347–363 359 Fionda and Moore was considered crucial for the brand, as it brings an element of authenticity. The store environment and service appear together, as each of the case companies considered the store environment part of the service. The environment within the context of the luxury fashion market is encapsulated in the form of the ? agship store and the superior service, which provide customers with the ultimate brand experience. Culture, the ? al component, refers to the expertise behind the brand, which must be coherent and consistent from management, manufacturers and designers to the sales staff, to ensure the success of the brand. All of these elements are interdependent and need to be maintained simultaneously, as independently they do not infer luxury status. In each of the cases, however, the ? rms placed varying levels of emphasis on each of the components illustrating the path-dependent nature of luxury fashion brand creation and development. ?agship experience and ? nally, Milan, New York, Paris or London fashion shows. All of these are considered vital in the quest to achieve ‘fashion’ status.
The greater the emphasis placed in these characteristics, the greater the fashion orientation of the luxury brand. This study has identi? ed an empirically developed model, the elements of which are interdependent and cohesive. These attributes must be managed concurrently in order to create and maintain a luxury fashion brand positioning. Thus, the management of the luxury brand demands a consistent and coherent approach. Limitations and future research It is noted that this study has limitations, most notable of which is the scale of the research. Moreover, all of the case companies were British, because of accessibility issues, which results in the study being culturally narrow.
Although the brands’ country of origin is limited to the British perspective, the parent companies of the brands are diverse, with representation from France, Italy and Japan. There are a couple of areas that could be considered for future research. Firstly, there is an opportunity to extend the study to a larger number of companies, which would help to identify the extent to which these ? ndings have a wider application. Secondly, investigating the brand crossculturally would provide an insight into any cultural differences in the marketing of luxury. CONCLUSIONS Despite the importance and growth of the luxury sector,3,5,16,19,42 investigation into the creation and maintenance associated with luxury fashion brands has received limited empirical exploration within the research literature. 6,28 The research that is available, despite Beverland’s16 study, which is con? ned to the wine sector, is not developed from an empirical basis or directly focused on the fashion sector. Therefore, this investigation sought to address research neglect through the provision of a framework for luxury brand marketing in the fashion sector. Although these components could arguably be applicable to a generic luxury brand, the differences among luxury fashion brands stem from the emphasis placed on the speci? c elements, namely, the investment into innovative and seasonal new product development, the appointment of a renowned fashion designer as a creative director, directly owned stores and CONTRIBUTION OF THE STUDY
This study has examined the issues intrinsic to luxury fashion marketing, and has identi? ed the areas that need to be considered by brand managers and marketers, although creating and maintaining the luxury fashion brand. The key ? ndings include nine inherent interrelated attributes crucial for creating a luxury fashion brand in the context of the luxury fashion market, and the 360 © 2009 Palgrave Macmillan 1350-23IX Brand Management Vol. 16, 5/6, 347–363 The anatomy of the luxury fashion brand successful management of the luxury fashion brand demands a consistent and coherent approach from the brand custodians. Furthermore, it can be concluded from the key ? dings that the process of creating and maintaining the luxury fashion brand is an extremely complex activity that requires continual planning and investment of resources in conjunction with coherent and consistent marketing and management decision making to generate the possibility of achieving success. Finally, through an in-depth analysis of the marketing issues inherent to luxury fashion branding, this study has contributed to the growing body of research available on luxury fashion brands.