The Anti-Laws Of Luxury Marketing #8

Jean-Noel KapfererSeptember 19, 20092 min

#8. Protect clients from non-clients, the big from the small.

Modern luxury works on the open–close principle. Too much ‘open’ is harmful to the brand’s social function – Ralph Lauren’s success undermined one of the foundations of his success with professionals in Europe: sporting the polo shirt enabled them to be different from Crocodile, the other great casual wear premium brand, from whom Ralph Lauren got his inspiration when he was starting out in the United States. On the other hand, too much ‘closed’ is too confining and leads to financial suffocation.

In practice that meant that the brand became segregationist and forgot all society’s democratic principles. In stores, for example, it is necessary subtly to introduce a measure of social segregation: ground floor for some, first floor for others. Armani set up specialist stores for each of his product lines. Advertising and promotion is for all, but public relations are ultra-carefully targeted, like the CRM for the privileged (personal invitations to meet the designer, the brand perfume nose, or the head wine buyer).

In aviation, these days everything is done to ensure that clients of the new first class (Emirates offering pictured above) never have to meet other passengers, whether from business class or (heaven forbid!) from economy class, and this is not just on boarding, but right from leaving their office until their arrival in the office at their destination – just like being in a private jet. A truly superior private club depends on how successful staff are in preventing ‘other clients’ from imposing on their own clients.

Excerpted in part from: The Luxury Strategy: Break The Rules of Marketing to Build Luxury Brands by JN Kapferer and V. Bastien, in partnership with Kogan Page publishing.

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