Monday, July 11, 2011

Luxury brands

A guest blog from the MCI sales and marketing team:

Last week Natasha and Jenna attended an alumni “Business of Luxury” event. The panel discussion included Kevin Nicholls (Director of Sales and Marketing for Porsche Australia) Melinda Stewart (Finance Director for Louis Vuitton Oceania) and Dr Rebecca Huntely (Director of Ispos Mackay Research.) The event was held at the Porsche Centre in Sydney; the perfect location for a luxury event! Here are the key discussion points:

Dr Huntley said that when the GFC hit the media was flooded with articles saying that consumption and consumerism is over; however the research shows Australians still love luxury brands. Research also found that ‘the average Australian’ felt “strained” but was still spending. The focus of investments was on future gains and satisfaction: renovations, children’s education and personal wellbeing.

Interesting branding facts about Louis Vuitton:

- They never go on sale

- They own all their production factories

- They only sell through Louis Vuitton stores – to maintain control of the selling environment

- Every Louis Vuitton store has the same shop window. They run a centralised campaign so that you can visit any of their 457 stores and have the same “experience”

Top Gear’s Jeremy Clarkson called Porsche’s design team “the laziest in the world” for never changing the 911 design but as the company holds onto their classic designs they are constantly expanding their range to meet demands. The automotive industry, like many others in Australia, has a finite number of buyers and only a certain number can afford the luxury version of that good – in this case Porsche.

Branding facts and ideas from Porsche:

- Consistency is very important to the brand – all showrooms have the exact same lights, floor tiles and paint colour

- Less than 100,000 Porsches are sold worldwide in one year. That is as many cars as Ford produces in a week. For small players in any market your focus needs to remain on having personal relationships with your customers. Stay true to your core values.

Kevin noted that marketers tend to group people because it is easier and cheaper than breaking them down further or putting the effort in. In today’s world people want a personal relationship – we need to remember this all the time.

Online purchasing has been a hot topic in recent months and Dr Huntley explained that consumers are now well informed, and they know their facts and figures and comparisons. Now more than ever we need to ensure that when we meet our customer for the first time we build a quality relationship, because that is what will make the difference.

Melinda ended off by saying that no brand is resilient to changing customers and environments. Even luxury, timeless brands cannot stop evolving. You need to constantly re-evaluate your product and your strategy – and train your staff.

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