Author Archives: Philippe Mihailovich

Parlons Luxe – François Némo

If you read French, I hope will enjoy reading François Némo’s views on Branding. I like what he has to say about luxury branding today. See extract from his site below:

Parlons luxe

Le luxe 2

Euphorie oblige, on a vu ces dernières années une quantité de niches fleurir autour du luxe, « Nouveau Luxe », « Hyper Luxe », « Luxe accessible »… que j’avais abordé sans le développer, à travers ma précédente note sur Zadig & Voltaire… Chacun cherchant légitimement sa part du gâteau, les recettes foisonnent pour répondre aux bouleversements et à l’essor qu’a subi le secteur. Mais la confusion est totale et le rétrécissement du marché entraînera à coup sûr une redistribution des cartes. N’est-ce pas aussi une bonne occasion de faire le point, revisiter les critères, revoir ses fondamentaux à la lumières des nouveaux enjeux. Redonner une lecture à un secteur dont le principal moteur est, et restera, la passion.

Retour aux sources

Le luxe est dérivé du mot latin « luxus », un adjectif qui signifie « pousser de travers », puis « pousser avec excès », pour devenir « excès en général ». Le luxe est excessif et (a) normal. Excessif par qu’il vise l’excellence, la perfection, le superflu, les meilleurs produits, les meilleurs créateurs, les meilleurs artisans… (a) normal parce qu’il impose ses propres règles. En opposition à la grande distribution qui répond à une demande, le luxe émane d’un créateur qui construit son propre univers et flatte le goût pour la singularisation. Avant d’être un marché, le luxe est d’abord une culture liée à la réussite personnelle et sociale.

Mise en tension

De par son histoire et par sa relation au temps et à l’humain (la construction d’une marque de luxe est faite par des hommes et s’inscrit dans la durée), le luxe est fortement rattaché au passé et aux racines. Au confluent de l’art, de la créativité, de la mode, de l’argent, dans une relation au temps et à l’avant-garde qui n’en finit pas de l’interroger, le luxe est au cœur de multiples contradictions qui le placent aujourd’hui dans un état de tension permanent. Comment gérer ces multiples contradictions ? Qu’est-ce qu’une marque de luxe aujourd’hui ?

Un laboratoire de création

Un laboratoire de création et de réflexion. Un magma en perpétuelle fusion qui interroge l’entreprise, ses valeurs, sa culture, ses racines. Qui interroge l’idée même de créativité. Ses différentes formes et fonctions dans le monde contemporain. Ses relations avec l’art, la mode, l’argent. Ses relations avec l’héritage. La part de l’intemporel, de l’éphémère. Qui s’interroge sur les nouvelles technologies, la relation à la matière et à la planète. Un laboratoire ou (co) « habitent » des créatifs, des stratèges, les gardiens du « temple » autant que des visionnaires.

Un laboratoire de développement

Quel équilibre commercial ? Où situer le curseur du marketing (rationaliser les pratiques commerciales) pour à la fois préserver le « noyau dur » de la marque et répondre aux exigences de développement. Comment satisfaire à la fois ceux qui achètent les produits pour l’appartenance et le plaisir et les autres par goût de l’ostentation. Quid de l’extension de gamme, de la diversification…

La nécessité d’un référent

Face à de telles exigences, la marque de luxe nécessite la présence d’un référent qui détient les « clefs » de la marque comme on détient les clés d’un paradis. C’est le personnage aux « manettes ». Un non-spécialiste, un genre d’homme à tout faire (qu’importe d’où il est issu) qui doit cumuler sensibilité, culture, intelligence, sens de l’art, vision du monde, ouverture, parfaite connaissance de l’entreprise et de sa culture, un homme qui saura digérer la multitude des contradictions et des enjeux artistiques, commerciaux, symboliques, pour donner du sens et de la raison d’être. Un visionnaire. Il y a bien sûr les fondateurs qui ont cette vision dans le sang. Mais il y a aussi les suivants, et là je citerai en exemple M. Dumas (un grand magicien), qui a conduit Hermès là où l’on sait.

Le luxe et l’argent

Si l’argent est un moteur du luxe (les produits de luxe généralement sont chers et imposent une stratification sociale), il ne constitue pas sa finalité. Luxe n’est pas synonyme d’argent. Il est d’abord synonyme d’appartenance, de culture, de créativité, de sensibilité. L’argent est la conséquence de produits généralement complexes et raffinés. Le luxe est réservé à une élite, bien sûr ! Mais quelle élite ? Ne doit-on pas privilégier celle que le produit fait rêver plutôt que celle qui s’affiche. Toujours ce « noyau dur », objet central de la marque. Peut-on classer dans le luxe des produits bon marché qui adoptent strictement les critères du luxe. Je pense à Apple….

Autant de questions et de contradictions qui font de ce secteur un phénomène culturel et social à fort contenu humain. Un phénomène placé au cœur de nos identités. Et qu’importe les appellations, « Nouveau Luxe », « Hyper Luxe », « Luxe Accessible »… pour être luxueux, le luxe doit être exigeant, « excessif », (a) normal…

Haute Consciousness

How to build a socially good brand

Extracts from Fruitful Strategy

Creating the socially good brand is likely the single biggest opportunity for internal and external collaboration for companies today. Employees and customers want to be part of something bigger. And more importantly, it alleviates the risk of PR fiascos, builds consumer trust through consistent words and actions, and has a positive bottom-line impact even in the downturn.

So how do you shift from fragmented programs to a unified strategy to build a socially good brand? Here’s our top 10 list. If you have more suggestions, comments are very welcome on the Fruitful blog post.

  1. Ensure executive leadership in recognizing the company’s role in the larger societal ecosystem, committing to conscious capitalism, and being willing to make tough decisions that align actions with rhetoric.
  2. Gain buy-in across departments that “singing from the same songbook” will lead to significantly greater impact than one-off programs.
  3. Be willing to cut pet projects in favor of a laser focus on initiatives that drive brand and business goals.
  4. Develop a deeper understanding of what each group can bring to the party. For example, marketing should be bringing stakeholder insights and competitive analysis to work with CSR pros on identifying the most fruitful way to build brand equity through social impact. Marketing is also great at simplifying messages to be readily understood by stakeholders.
  5. Leverage innovative thinkers and departments to come up with your company’s version of GreenWorks or Ecomagination – profitable ways to demonstrate your company’s commitment. This is how we shift perceptions of CSR beyond “BDF” (babies, dolphins, and forests) and create sustainable, meaningful change.
  6. Before committing to a cause-related direction, be sure to understand whether your brand has any credibility among your stakeholders. If the answer is no, figure out exactly what actions you need to take in order to gain credibility, and create an evolution strategy to get there. Or switch to a cause that is more believable for your organization.
  7. Understand the customer touchpoints that drive purchase and loyalty, and find ways to ensure that your customers fully experience your social commitment. While you’re at it, look for ways that your customer experience might be sending mixed signals and contradicting your public rhetoric.
  8. Don’t demand from suppliers what you’re not willing to do yourself. If you want suppliers to adhere to codes of conduct, create one for your own company that ensures realistic expectations and outlines ways to collaborate rather than dictate.
  9. Establish metrics across the business, not only for internal initiatives like carbon footprint but also for customer perceptions and attitudes. How are you closing the gaps between customer expectations and their beliefs about your brand? (And do you even know what those gaps are?)
  10. Collaborate with customers. The more you engage them in honest and transparent dialogue, the more trust can be built. You can even solicit their feedback on what metrics they’d like to see instead of unilaterally deciding what to measure.

Haute concept store – Merci

New concept store in Paris: Merci 111 bvd Beaumarchais (metro St Sebastien) – really worth checking out.

http://inandoutblog.wordpress.com/2009/02/

image from inandoutblog

From flowers, to fashion to one-off crafted homewear items over three floors including a massive bookshelf with used books and a spanking new super-cycle called PHILIPPE! Apparently 100% profits go to helping poor kids in Madagascar, but when will they declare a profit?

Haute Power skin care and Haute Soul

Now you can personalise the power of your skin care products – check out the innovative My Blend line from Dr. Courtin (Head of Clarins Group Labs and son of the founder) see info here.

For top natural skin care, the brand I’m addicted to, Elemental Herbology, high in performance, passion, authenticity, and soul, click here.

Haute Haggling: Sign of our times

Here’s a tip from Ahdi Al-Hunaif from Kuwait fist posted on smallworld.net:

“I walked in a very high end watch store, and bought a $25,000 Audemars Piguet watch for $15,000.. you know how? cos I haggled.. nowadays are the bad days, people need cash, if they can sell with getting the money they invested, they will go for it, research the luxury item you want, look for the lowest price on the net, and walk in the store with that amount on your hand in cash, throw it on the table, more times than not, they will take it.. even with a very very small marginal profit, or breaking even, they will take it.. I know it’s not fair, but it is one of the few times the consumer has the upper hand, especially in luxury stores..”

Haute-mosphere: Loft resto

If in Paris you must check out my favorite new resto ‘Derriere’ 69 rue de gravilliers tel +331 44 61 91 95, just a green door, no signage, table tennis in middle of lofty resto, table with double bed upstairs and if you walk into and through the cupboard you find yourself in a funky folly smoking room. they are trying to avoid press. Mourad (Momo, Sketch, 404 and Andy Wahloo) and his brother Akim Mazouz are ‘derriere’ it.

Haute Visage: make-up

ELLIS FAAS to launch soon! Look out for the revolutionary Ellis Faas colour cosmetic line to be launched early 2009 in all trendsetting stores around the world. Finish up all your make-up this year because the new Ellis Faas line for all skin shades will make everything you’ve been using look like colours and tools from the last century. You heard it here first! Nov 08

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‘LuxYOUry’: Trendwatching.com

On to every brand professional’s favorite topic (or so it seems at times): The Future of Luxury. How will luxury brands fare in 2009? What will define luxury over the next few years? The answer to a large degree is, ‘luxury will be whatever you want it to be’. After all, what constitutes luxury is closely related to what constitutes scarcity. And while scarcity in traditional consumer societies was for decades defined by the biggest, the best, and the most expensive ‘items’, the consumer arena in 2009 shows a bewildering number of ‘scarcities’, some of them invented purely to overcome the abundance now found in traditional sectors. More than ever, scarcity is in the eye of the beholder, especially those beholders who are desperately trying to be unique.

So in 2009, instead of worrying about missing out on the next big thing in luxury, focus on defining it. Declare that the end is nigh for anything that’s getting a little too affordable, too accessible, or just too well-known. Then introduce something very different (if not the opposite), appealing to the in-crowds ready to jump ship anyway. Two fun and very ‘now’ examples from the hospitality industry:

  • Named after the ‘rough luxury’ trend that was coined by the hotel’s owner, Rabih Age, Rough Luxe is a new London hotel with small, funky rooms, some of which share a bathroom, while also offering fine wines, plush bedlinen, carefully curated art, and top-notch personal service. From their site: “Rough Luxe is a new way of looking at luxury as part of time and not only part of an object of consumption. Luxury is an enriching personal experience and not only an ownership or consumption of an expensive object. Therefore, the Rough Luxe definition of luxury is: time for reflection, personal encounters with people, nature, architecture and environment as well as food and social and cultural experiences linked to geographic locations.”
  • Along the same lines, though a little bit more ‘Deluxe Bohemian’ than ‘Rough’, is the soon-to-be-opened Ace Hotel New York. Its ‘resourceful rehab’ approach will include (re-upholstered) furniture from salvage shops and flea markets.

Want something to play with? How about DISCREET-CHIC? RECESSION-CHIC? FRUGALITY-CHIC? UNDERSTATED-CHIC? Or anything that’s commissioned? Access? Secrets? Stories? Time with one’s loved ones? Time for oneself? All things local? Peace and quiet, if not escape? Eco-friendly? Human-friendly? Caring? Empathy? PERKONOMICS? Craft? Friends? Having a larger-than-life perspective? Households of six or more? Eccentricity? Appointment-only? Opinionated? PREMIUMIZATION? Fuck You Money? Philanthropy? Bespoke? Knowledge? Skills? Health? Etiquette? Or a mix of any of these?

Whatever angle you may go for, luxury in 2009 will comprise much, much more than ostentatiously flaunting wealth (which, by the way, will still enjoy considerable popularity among emerging middle classes around the world). Find the right (status) trigger for the right audience, then coin it and build on it. This one is all yours. Downturn or upturn.

http://www.trendwatching.com/briefing/

Haute cuisine: Food for thought?

see Haute Cuisine hits a fashion high!

Gourmet food at home may be the only luxury that will survive the credit crunch!

Which cheese, chocolate or other digestible luxury would you consider to be haut luxe – meaning unique, made by hand, rare, to die for? Epoisses cheese for instance? Pierre Hermé pâtisserie? Gillardeau Oysters? According to chefs of France24 TV, Spanish Caviar is the best! see more about it on http://www.eurocommoditytrading.com/