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Rohit Arora, Strategic Planning Director, Bates Pan Gulf (BPG Group), Dubai, UAE

or being at the red carpet herself and - Qualitative research, UAE, 2010.

Luxury brands have always been a fascinating space and luxury brand marketing one of the most complicated ones.
So, going by the above consumer quote, this paper attempts to decode what makes Louis Vuitton, Louis Vuitton;
Chanel, Chanel in simple words what makes a luxury brand desirable? What are the ingredients/components that
make up a luxury brand?

Is it the physical / functional attributes like the product quality, craftsmanship, design, technology? As one
respondent in one of the qualitative research in UAE said twith really high-quality, you
/ its minute

Or is it the self-asserting emotional stimulation of l l
finer things in life not common to many? A respondent said I bought my BMW, just to keep my key on the table
during the Another respondent said If I stop at a signal I feel I will attract attention of people

Or is it that luxury brands are just the stepladder to move to the right circle or an appropriate thing to have or wear
in that circle? A respondent said d


In my assessment, by-and-large the above are the three major motivators that drive people to desire and acquire
1 important to acknowledge that they are not mutually exclusive.

L 8 the definition of
exclusivity goes through an evolution. At the early stage, having the ability or affluence to own a luxury brand
desirable and recognizable by everyone is exclusivity. It is a means by which consumers assert themselves - whether
it is to fit-in or simply to make a statement.

As the consumer moves on and with more people joining the circle, just owning a recognizable symbol
is not enough differentiate sets in to further confirm their social status and to stand-out among
the equals. The source of exclusivity, then, can manifest in form of acquiring limited editions or something with
extraordinary product capabilities or rare materials, craftsmanship distinctive
personality or simply the knowledge of the brand legacy. One can also observe that people who seek differentiation
tend to have larger repertoire of luxury brands, have a choice of not-so-common luxury brands, have a definitive
reason for their choice and sometime even prefer to stick to specialist brands. Few of the consumer quotes (below)
from various quantitative researches in UAE emphasize this point:

I prefer to buy my watch from an expert watch-brand, not a fashion label.

I like things that are exclusive and specialized like the really top suit ies. You know, where one tie is
the price of a good Armani suit, bu/branches
d and wear it a few
times on specific occasions

While genuine appreciation for product excellent needs no explanation, as mentioned earlier it is not mutually
exclusive. In simple words, it does not mean that people who acquire luxury brands for either asserting-self or
differentiation have no appreciation and love for beautiful products. But, then there are others who buy luxury
without having any baggage of what others think. They buy it because they genuinely love the physical / functional
attributes that the product delivers or because they find a profound connection with the brand / the brand story.
The bottom line is that whether it is self assertion, differentiation or genuine appreciation for product excellence,
these stories and the aura that surrounds the brands is what makes luxury brands desirable.
of luxury brand marketing, this paper attempts to bring together the elements and interplay between them that are
employed in the luxury brand marketing mix. Some of the elements have been named to fit the 8P packaging and
therefore, my humble request to readers will be to take the broad-point made versus getting stuck in semantics.
Yet, another point important to acknowledge is that the degree of significance of these elements may vary from
brand-to-brand and market-to-market. The point-of-view of this paper is more that of a practitioner, than a



Performance refers to the delivery of superior experience of a luxury brand at two levels first, at a product level
and second, at an experiential level.

At a product level, fundamentally it must satisfy the functional and utilitarian characteristic as well as deliver on its
practical physical attributes a recipe of quality or design excellence ingredients like craftsmanship, precision,
materials, high quality, unique design, extraordinary product capabilities, technology & innovation. For example:

On their 70th anniversary,
Patek Philippe unveiled a
new complicated
wristwatch. Along with a
unique column wheel
chronograph movement,
the day and month appear
in a double window at 12

indicating the date around
the moon phase. The leap
year is displayed in a small
round window at 4:30
opposite a matching
window for the day/night display at 7:30.

interchangeable backs - one in sapphire crystal that
reveals the movement complexity and the elegance of
its finishing, the other, a white gold solid back that can
be personalized with a dedication or an engraving.
Omega Speedmaster Chronograph the moon watch:
Selection by NASA, a walk
in space in 1965 and since
1969 six mission to the
moon is what makes this
series with extraordinary
capabilities. After it
became a life-saving
instrument during the
Apollo 13 mission, the
Speedmaster went on to
become a symbol of peace,
as both American & Soviet
astronauts wore it in the
first joint space-mission
during the cold war. It
never left the Space
Program as it still the only
watch certified by NASA for
all EVAs (Extra-Vehicular

A luxury brand must perform at an experiential level as well, i.e. the emotional value of the brand the consumers
buy into beyond what the product is to what it represents. For example: Rolex stands of symbol of heroic
achievement & Tiffany is a symbol of love and beauty.


Many luxury brands have a rich pedigree and extraordinary history that turn in to an inseparable part of the brand
mystique. This mystique is generally built around the exceptional legendary founder character of the past, making
up an integral part of the brand story and brand personality.

So, when consumers buy say a Cartier or a Chanel product - it is not only because of the product performance
factor, but lineage, heritage and the years of mastery.

Coco Chanel started her business in
1913 and within a few decades,
became a revolutionary couturier.

Karl Lagerfeld took the helm
in the 1980s and has been
modernizing the brand ever

With Chanel Coco Mademoiselle campaigns
in 1981, 2008, 2009 & the recent 2011,
Chanel has continuously leveraged its
pedigree / brand mystique.

Gucci opened the doors of its own museum in Florence to
mark the completion of the house's 90th-anniversary

Similarly, Rolls-Royce celebrated the 100th anniversary of its
iconic emblem, the Spirit of Ecstasy with '100 cars for 100 years'
and featured a collection of Rolls-Royce models, supplied by
members of the Rolls-Royce Enthusiasts' Club, dating back to 1911


Over-revelation-and-distribution of luxury brand can cause dilution of luxury character, hence many brands try to
maintain the perception that the goods are scarce. Case in point - Burberry diluted its brand image in the UK in the
early 2000s by over-licensing its brand, thus reducing its image as a brand whose products were consumed only by
the elite. Gucci, now largely sold in directly-owned stores, following a nearly crippling attempt to widely license
their brand in the 1970s and 1980s.

8 the actual scarcity), the technology-led paucity and the tactical- driven paucity.

Natural paucity is triggered by scarce ingredients like platinum, diamonds, etc. and/or those goods that require
exceptional human expertise, for example handcrafted quality that constraints the mass production.
Technology-driven paucity is as a result of conception-time involved in continuous innovation and research-&-
development process.

Tactical- driven paucity are more promotional in nature such as the limited editions or the special series to
generate artificial desire and demand. Another deviation within this is the customization of luxury good, e.g. Garson
USA custom made a diamond-encrusted Mercedes SL600 for Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal of Saudi Arabia in 2007.

The persona of a luxury brand is largely a result of first, its distinctive projection plus coherence of its applications
across consumer touch-points and second, the brand communication through its advertising.

The visual brand identity 1
and consistent orchestration of the identity is central to establishing the visibility, familiarity & common identifiable
brand imagery. The visual brand orchestration can manifest by way of its coherent application of its identity, the
brand color(s), the other design elements like icons, the uniquely identifiable design, branded environment and
even the tone-of-voice.

While the luxury brands visual identity is a fairly stable factor, luxury brand advertising is a more dynamic and
versatile marketing vehicle. While the pedigree of the brand has its role, keeping-up the contemporary-appeal and
the newness-factor is crucial for enduring brand relevance. Therefore, luxury advertising not only needs to generate
the desire for the seasonal collection, but at th -quotient, thereby
making it continuously desirable and aspirational.

At an overall level, luxury advertising messages can be
As more emotional and sensual to distance it
from mass-premium brands
Create a world and an aura that is truly
exceptional to their brand signature
Generate major differentiation in its production
and execution

One of the relatively new trends within luxury brand communication is the use of the long-form-commercials or the
short-film-videos to generate interest with the online audience. It is clearly a pursuit where luxury brands are
looking to bridge the gap between the familiar world of print and the fast-evolving world of online. It has also
proved impactful as in a matter of few minutes, the viewer can have a clear understanding of the brand image or
the story the brand is trying to convey or simply promotion of the new collection.

The short-flash-videos at Montblanc
website focuses on its craftsmanship legacy:

Louis Vuitton created a 3-minute
thematic video

A one-and-half minute video by Tiffany
& Co. focuses on promoting gifting
during holidays.

Apart from these, with the intent of enhancing mindsets, luxury brands
have been exploring the digital space by engaging them in their activation programs. The objective is to generate a
genuine affinity with the brand that transcends beyond the product, to an extent where, the consumers feel that
they have found a soul mate.

With the objective of association to
love and romance Tiffany & co. launched and iPhone app as a guide to those
who want to take their romantic relationship forward. The
website also showcases select true love stories of real people
to give that personal touch.

, each year showcases
pioneering projects of real people that demonstrated
innovative thought and betterment of human-kind. Thereby,
establishing a personal affinity with their audience, beyond
celebrity endorsement.

Some of the luxury brands have also utilized the social media. The objective may not necessarily be, as deep as,
engaging the audience in their storytelling, but it has been done largely to generate the desire or the lust for the
brand or the product. It is also an effective tool to keep-up the contemporary-appeal and the newness-factor by
having a continuous dialogue.

Jimmy Choo organized a real-time treasure hunt around
London via Foursquare to engage fans both online and off.

Gucci has
successfully kept
their high numbers
of Facebook fans
engaged by
continually updating
their content,
thereby sparking
conversations in the



Public-figure or celebrities have been traditionally employed as one of the marketing mix in luxury brand
advertising and they still continue to garner attention, credibility and impact. Public figures can span from film-stars
to music personalities, from sports personalities to royal families and even the designer themselves. But because
celebrity endorsements are no longer exclusive to luxury space and extensively used (and abused) across mass
categories, it take a different meaning when it comes to luxury brand endorsement.

Not only personality have to resonate with that of the luxury brand
aura role is crafted, executed and strategically utilized. Beyond
traditional advertising (largely print in selected media), less in-your-face advertising tools are employed like
accessorization or dressing celebrities for their walk down the red carpet, product placements within movies and
television programs, invites to special events. This strategy attempts to remove the appearance of selling while
still promoting the product thereby positively affecting

Chopard has been official partner of the
Cannes Film Festival since last 14 years,
showcasing and premiering their
collection by accessorizing celebrities on
the red carpet.

The Lebanese singer and UNICEF goodwill
n A C
special guest at the Cartier International
Dubai Polo Challenge held in Dubai, UAE
in 2010.

Omega have sponsored the James Bond
franchise since 1995 earlier with Pierce
Brosnan and now with Daniel Craig

Long-form-commercials / short-films have also utilized the celebrity-factor. Chanel for instance recently created 3-
minute short film with actress Keira Knightley who replaced Kate Moss in its ads for its Coco Mademoiselle
fragrance. Other previous faces of Chanel have included French star Catherine Deneuve and Nicole Kidman, who
represented Chanel No. 5.

Similarly, as a part of their co campaign, Louis Vuitton used their website as the online medium to
travel and inspiring legendary journeys.

The Coco Mademoiselle campaign with Keira Knightley

Angelina Jolie C
one of the celebrity stories featured on Louis Vuitton website

The retail branded environment in luxury branding is all

amplifying the brand aura. Hence, the branded
environment, the movement of truth, is where it must

that engages all senses of the discerning audience.

Starting from the choice of store location, the chain of
presentation and the impact of each touch-point is
critical in creating a unique indulging experience.

That said evolving luxury consumers are increasingly seeking beyond the typical sophisticated, over-the-
top, cosmetically elegant presentation or even the exclusive invites, privileged previews. With the increasing
democratization of luxury brands and the rapid emergence of masstige brands the luxury consumers have
become more discriminating and demanding. They are seeking a more knowledgeable and professional assistance,
a trusted and reliable collaboration helping them to manage their stature and lifestyle. Not only has this led to the
new business offerings like Quintessentially (more below), but also luxury brands are increasingly investing in
training and empowering their sales staff.

Another important point to note within the placement factor is that it is not limited to the physical environment
where the brand retails, but it extends to all the environments or consumer touch-points that the brand associates
itself with. This spans from the extremely selective niche media where it advertises to the sports, the events, art,
conversations that it places itself with.

If luxury is about environment and aesthetics, then fashion
magazines like Vogue, InStyle, Vanity Fair, P 8,
etc. provide that complementing environment and aesthetics
for luxury brand to advertise in print media.

Rolex associates itself with more than 150 events in golf, sailing,
tennis, motor-sport, arts and at equestrian tournament vs.
associating with sports like football / cricket that have more mass

Due to their origin in the writing culture, Montblanc supports
and honors modern-day patrons of the arts through forums
like De La Culture Arts Patronage, Young Artist World
Patronage, Young Directors Project, the Montblanc Cultural
foundation and the Unicef cooperation.

Italian carmaker Maserati placed its GranTurismo coupes in "a
guerrilla-style-product-placement for the 2011 Limitless movie
where the main character needed a ride to express luxury, style
and performance.

E.g.: Quintessentially, a British company with 60 offices

that provides concierge services to affluent and high net worth
individuals. Their services include exclusive access to the hottest
VIP-events, cultural happenings, once-in-a-life time experiences,
top restaurants, clubs, spas and hotels, access to fine wines,
private jets, luxury cars and yachts, party planners; art, education
and investment consultants; travel and adventure specialists,
bespoke gifting and styling services and much more.!

PR in luxury branding plays an enormous role in image proliferation of the brand, thereby subtly influencing public
opinion. It is also employed to convey other supporting messages and attributes of the brand which cannot be
explicitly captured in advertising, but by no means are less important to create and
emotional values -figure any of the previous 7

It is also a sophisticated branding machine for maintaining ongoing relevance and dialogue with the luxury
consumer, especially so in fashion, technology and seasonal trends driven categories. At a tactical level, PR is
utilized to generate buzz & convey the brand news, point of views of inspirers and influencers (celebrity talk or the
designer speak), a crucial support for brand activation (like the fashion weeks, sport-events, themed previews, etc.).


Pricing plays a quite a big role in the way consumers perceive luxury brands. Consciously or sub-consciously,
consumers tend to generate a mental luxury stature or image with the price-range that the brand operates.
Therefore, it is important for luxury brands to price thmeselves right as setting the price lower than the consumer
expectation and willingness to pay can potentially harm the brand value, whereas the reverse can potentially not
given enough justification for consumers to go ahead and buy.

The pricing strategy in luxury brands gained spotlight in the recent past not only because of the challenging
economic environment, but because of more informed-and-exposed consumers who are more discriminating and
demanding, for whom premium pricing without substance A recent research by Unity
Marketing suggests that affluent shoppers -times more for something only three times better. The
luxury- on top, thereby keep-
up and maintain a higher perceived value.

The sales promotions also tend to be handled differently by luxury marketers. While few have resorted to sales and
discounts, most others play it by adding more value to the purchase like gift with purchase, gift-certificates or
rebates for the next purchase, multiple item discounts, online or email exclusives, more loyalty points, no shipping
and handling charges by online retailers, etc. Luxury brands also use the channel of luxury retailers like Harvey
Nichols, Saks 5
Avenue who offer annual sales by offering them slightly lower prices.

Another way employed by luxury brands is by creating an extension into a secondary line with relatively lower price
points like Giorgio Arman - Armani Exchange 8 C - ! C Miu Miu, Alexander
McQueen - McQ lines.


In conclusion, the key to luxury brand marketing boils down to the following three points:

x Product excellence by itself in not enough, the luxury brand must perform at an experiential level as well.
As luxury consumers evolve, not only these act as points of differentiation, but also substance
a premium value and pricing.
x While pedigree factor is important to exuberate the years of mastery or lineage, it is crucial to generate
ongoing relevance and dynamism through the persona, PR & public-figure factor.
x Luxury brands must continue to maintain a certain degree of exclusivity and stature with the paucity factor
and the placement factor from the retail experience to the touch-points it associates itself with.

1 of luxury brand marketing can provide a holistic framework to luxury marketers. 1 may not be a
to audit and leverage the brand potential.
That said, a pragmatic approach must be underlined, as the situation and challenges would differ from brand-to-
brand and market-to-market.

Rohit Arora is Strategic Planning Director at Bates Pan Gulf (BPG Group) in Dubai, UAE.
Within the luxury segment, he has worked on the strategic communication projects of
De Beers, Ford-Lincoln, Al Tayer Group, Omega watches, luxury real-estate projects,
luxury healthcare project, high-end consumer durables and banking designed solutions
for the high-end consumers. with agencies that also include JWT and Y&R where he
worked previously.
Official contact: