Four strategies for a better retail holiday season

3 11 2009

Uno degli articoli più interessanti e stimolanti sul tema del Marchandising e del rapporto tra centro e periferia.

Che ne pensate?

From www.retailcustomerexperience.com
Author: Dan Wittner
Date: 30 Oct 2009

Following one of the worst holiday sales seasons in history, retailers recognize the need to prepare for the upcoming season with carefully planned merchandise assortments, inventory levels and cross-channel promotions that drive sales. While some economic reports have shown bleak outlooks, several indicators suggest the economy is beginning to improve. With so much uncertainty, how will retailers prepare?

Retailers may not have control over how much the economy will bounce back, but they do have control over the successful execution of their holiday in-store product marketing campaigns and promotions. <b>In the world of retail, execution is the most important component to any successful merchandising campaign</b>. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the most disorganized and difficult processes to go through.

With 85 percent of purchasing decisions being made at the shelf, the optimization of merchandising and promotional strategies is absolutely critical. However, only 37 percent of retail merchandisers are confident in the ability of store operations to execute these strategies.

Without the proper processes in place, retailers lack the ability to run holiday campaigns quickly and efficiently, and consequently, fail to convert the sale during the critical final interaction with the customer. In fact, tens of millions of dollars are lost each year because employees don’t properly execute on their headquarters’ in-store directives.

So what’s a retailer to do?

In order to help retailers cut costs associated with holiday marketing and merchandising campaigns while significantly improving customer engagements that ultimately drive sales, we’ve included below some key tricks of the trade.

Streamline your Operations:
A critical first step in carrying out any in-store merchandising campaign is to streamline operations and create a single platform to manage all merchandising processes. Companies like Oracle, JDA, SAP and RBM Technologies have paved the way in providing comprehensive and highly-effective merchandising platforms specifically designed to improve in-store merchandising and marketing execution. By simply streamlining operations, retailers are able to significantly cut costs and improve revenue.

Improve your Communications Skills:
Timely communication related to training, in-store execution, and promotions are critical to the success of any retail operation. And in this challenging market where every sale counts, it’s critical that all stores be compliant with corporate direction.

Unfortunately, studies show that most retailers are still using outdated processes — like excel spreadsheets, phone, fax and mailings — to communicate in-store merchandising changes. This is a major driver of non-compliance, which negatively impacts sales performance. Retailers should focus on visual, two-way communication with store employees. This means giving store teams images of how they want displays to appear and where they should be placed within the store.

Store employees can in turn provide faster feedback when a campaign has been executed so corporate has a clear understanding of compliance and the impact an accurately executed campaign has on sales.

Prepare to ‘Get Local’:
A few months ago, Macy’s CEO Terry Lundgren told the attendees of Macy’s annual meeting that their localization plan, which the company implemented last year, will save the company approximately $400 million annually beginning in 2010.

Many other large retailers have jumped on the localization bandwagon for quite a few reasons. Local stores are able to provide insight into a particular market to improve campaigns and sales in those particular areas. Localization efforts will be particularly critical this holiday season because they show how customers are responding to a particular campaign or promotion.

Despite the growth of this trend, localization can be a complicated process. To maximize revenue for each customer that enters a store, retailers must display the exact products and messaging that will compel a purchase. That means tailoring merchandise to unique local consumer needs. Many savvy retailers understand this, but too often leave such localization decisions solely up to the “gut-feel” of local store managers. While these managers do play an important role in the process, retailers must better leverage the data they already have by automating the localization process. The result will be a stronger, more targeted connection with the customer.

Improve your Organization’s Sustainability Efforts:
It’s not only good for the environment; it’s good for your bottom line. While almost every retailer offers recyclable bags or employs energy saving practices in their stores, they often forget to focus on greening their back end as well. In-store campaigns can be a tremendous source of inefficiency and waste. In many cases, retail corporate headquarters don’t have a clear idea of what is happening at each store level in terms of POP requirements. Many retailers are still using generic POP kits for all of their stores, which can lead to as much as 30 percent of received POP not being used. Not only does this process waste time and effort from both a store and corporate level, it also increases campaign costs and produces a great deal of waste.

Visual merchandising management solutions provide the necessary tools to help retailers create a localized POP platform to help take the “guess work” out of the merchandising process and reduce production of POP materials. In addition, retailers are able to significantly reduce paper waste and money, by ensuring all corporate directives and campaigns are being communicated online.

The impending holidays will undoubtedly be a major challenge for all retailers. In order to survive and even thrive, retailers need to be smart, organized and cost-conscious. Implementing the right in-store merchandising technologies and processes will undoubtedly help retailers achieve these goals and prepare not only for the coming months, but for many holiday seasons to come.

The writer is Chief Customer Officer at RBM Technologies.

Annunci




Il Consiglio dei ministri non congela la legge 99 sul Made in Italy

11 09 2009

Il dilemma non sembra di facile soluzione: è chiaro che una definizione univoca del significato “Made in Italy” è necessaria.

Una strada percorribile potrebbe essere quella di realizzare una gradazione dell’applicabilità, rendendo l’etichetta “made in Italy” un contenitore: quindi “made in Italy” (al 100% della catena produttiva escludendo la provenienza della materia prima (naturalmente dove non sia caratterizzante essere di provenienza italiana), “designed in Italy”, “assembled in Italy”, “embedded in Italy” e così via.

Personalmente sono più drastico, dovendo difendere il concetto del “Made in Italy” ogni lavorazione del prodotto, anche la più piccola deve far decadere il diritto di dire che il prodotto è “Made in Italy”.

La chiarezza e semplicità delle definizioni paga sempre nei confronti del cliente finale.

Cosa ne pensate? Come si stanno comportando le vostre aziende?

Fabio

La legge 99 (che punisce l’apposizione dell’etichetta made in Italy su merce prodotta in tutto o in parte all’estero), introdotta lo scorso Ferragosto, per il momento resta in vigore.

Non è passato in Consiglio dei ministri di ieri il capitolo sul congelamento temporaneo della norma fino alla pronuncia definitiva degli organismi europei.

Si cerca ancora una mediazione politica tra le diverse forze in campo su questo delicato tema, che vede divisi settori dell’industria e dell’artigianato in Italia.

Alla base ci sono infatti interessi divergenti tra imprenditori a monte e a valle della filiera: per i primi appare, infatti, di primaria importanza valorizzare l’aspetto della tracciabilità dei prodotti, per i secondi, che in molti casi delocalizzano fasi della produzione, logicamente non è lo stesso.

La lotta è in corso, aggravata dalla crisi che ha investito settori importantissimi dell’economia italiana, come il tessile-abbigliamento, per il quale la battaglia su Made in Italy appare di stringente attualità.





Il mercato libero? ma mi faccia il piacere!

30 07 2009

Di chi è il canale di vendita ecommerce? è delle marche o è un mercato libero dove la concorrenza si gioca su un tavolo di dimensioni diverse rispetto a quello reale?

Perchè una marca accetta di avere più negozi in una stessa città (anche distributori laddove ha dei negozi diretti), ma non accetta di avere più presenze di vendita in Internet con un concetto di raggiungibilità dei clienti simile?

Perchè non si riesce a comprendere che la partita potrebbe giocarsi sulla capacità competitiva invece che sulle regole (che, naturalmente s’invocano solo quando convenienti….)?

Se io avessi la possibilità di acquistare lo stesso prodotto da più fornitori, oltre alla leva dello sconto (che in questi prodotti non può essere giocata più di tanto), cercherei la capacità di fornirmi servizi, di sentirmi parte della community dei clienti, insomma comprerei dal sito ufficiale.

Oggi è tecnologicamente possibile “segmentare” prodotti, servizi e clienti su base geografica con maniera semplice per ovviare ai problemi della distribuzione geografica, certo altro discorso è la capacità organizzativa e di realizzazione che dovrebbe essere il vero fattore competitivo, altro che lobbying……

Mercato libero? ma mi faccia il piacere!

Fabio

LVMH, Chanel Force EU to Modify Draft Law on Internet Sales

By Matthew Newman – July 27 (Bloomberg)

Luxury goods makers LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA and Chanel SA may win more control over how Web-based retailers sell their products after a last- minute lobbying campaign over a draft European Union regulation.

Makers of watches, handbags and perfumes argued early proposals would allow EBay Inc. traders to sell unlimited amounts of their goods on the Internet, undermining investments in stores in expensive areas.

The latest version, obtained by Bloomberg News and scheduled for release as soon as tomorrow, gives brand owners the right to dictate the ratio of products sold online compared with “bricks-and-mortar” shops.

“EBay has done a huge lobby campaign and it doesn’t look like they have been successful,” said Denis Waelbroeck, a partner at Ashurst LLP who represents the European Cosmetics Association, a perfume makers’ lobby group in Brussels. “I’m pleased with the text, though there are still issues.”

Brand owners such as Chanel, known for $2,000 quilted handbags and No. 5 perfume, and Cie. Financiere Richemont SA, the world’s largest jewelry maker, argue that removing restrictions on Internet sales will damage an industry with annual sales of 65 billion euros ($92 billion).

Cosmetics and perfume makers contend consumers need to touch, smell and experience products at stores and claim that online retailers degrade product image.

‘Print Money’

Those arguments, presented by Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld when he met European Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes in Brussels on Feb. 11, helped persuade regulators to change an initial draft.

Under that text, Internet resellers would have had the right to sell unlimited quantities of luxury goods as long as they were authorized distributors through bricks and mortar stores.

After the draft was circulated in April, luxury goods companies’ lobbying campaigns switched into high gear.

Lawyers for the companies, as well as company executives, urged Kroes to change the wording.

The final version adds a footnote that gives the goods makers more control over sales.

“Selective distribution, whether real or virtual, has always been fundamental for luxury brands,” Andrea Ciccoli, a fashion industry analyst for Bain & Co. in Milan, said in an interview about an earlier version of the law. “Not just anyone can sell products by Chanel and Prada in stores and there’s no reason why they should be able to on the Web. It would be like giving people a license to print money.”

The European Commission, the 27-nation EU’s antitrust regulator, will distribute the new guidelines on the extent to which companies can restrict trade through authorized dealers this week, said Jonathan Todd, a spokesman for the commission.

‘Consumer Interests’

The plans explain how the regulator will apply competition rules to agreements between producers and sellers. The regulations needed to be updated to take into account the growth of e-commerce and potential barriers to online sales.

EBay, owner of the most visited U.S. e-commerce Web site, said that the commission needs to be sensitive to any restraint of online sales.

The priority has to be consumer interests,” San Jose, California-based EBay said in an e-mailed statement.

Paris-based LVMH spokeswoman Sonia Fellmann declined to comment. Cathy Daumerie, a spokeswoman for Chanel in Brussels, also declined to comment.

The guidelines aren’t a complete victory for luxury goods companies. A section on “hardcore restrictions”specific rules that prevent distributors from restricting retailers’ sales — may put luxury goods makers’ distribution systems at risk of being undermined by Web resellers, said Jacques Lafitte, founder of antitrust consulting firm Avisa Partners in Brussels.

According to the plan, companies will no longer be able to stop an Internet retailer from selling their goods in countries where there isn’t a distribution system.

“The commission has made up its mind on 99 percent of the issues, and most of it makes perfect sense,” said Lafitte, who has lobbied for luxury goods makers.

“If they were consistent with what they now seem to want, they should ensure that there isn’t a backdoor that undermines selective distribution systems, but this extra bit can’t be taken for granted.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Matthew Newman in Brussels at Mnewman6@bloomberg.net.





Saks Chief Cuts Orders to Avoid Stiletto Discounts

23 07 2009

Non mi entusiasma molto l’idea della strategia della “scarsità” intesa come “riduzione del livello del servizio”, soprattutto se realizzata dai retailers.

Un conto è “combattere” per avere qualcosa che è scarso a partire dalla fonte, un altro è trovare poco sugli scaffali perchè poco è stato acquistato.

Se così fosse, dovremmo riabilitare il marketing della vecchia Unione Sovietica dove gli scaffali dei negozi erano sempre vuoti (di qualsiasi prodotto).

Come cliente mi sento “spremuto come un limone“….

Volendola vedere come opportunità i negozi diretti potrebbero controbattere con il “giusto” assortimento e la “giusta” quantità sugli scaffali, non determinata esclusivamente, dal P&L.

Altra opportunità potrebbe essere quella dell’ecommerce che risente meno dei costi di vendita rispetto agli altri canali tradizionali.

Naturalmente occorre produrre la “giusta” quantità con la “giusta” flessibilità.

Questo non sempre riesce a un sistema che, salvo poche eccezioni, non ha la mentalità organizzativa “giusta” per l’ottimizzazione dei processi aziendali che si muovono con molta approssimazione e senza un’armonizzazione comune a tutta l’azienda e che quindi produce in maniera ondivaga, schizofrenica e isterica.

Nella mia esperienza gli interventi di ottimizzazione della logistica hanno sempre prodotto risultati interessanti, anche con piccoli sforzi (spesso solo di buon senso…).

Mi sembra infine che si sta perdendo il concetto di personalizzazione del prodotto che, con le risorse tecnologiche oggi a disposizione è un’arma in più.

Commenti?

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By Cotten Timberlake (Bloomberg.com)

Saks Inc., Neiman Marcus Group Inc. and other luxury retailers are reducing orders this year to limit supply and boost profitability.

The cuts may rein in what Saks Chief Executive Officer Stephen Sadove calls the “enormous excess” that existed last year in stores that cater to the wealthy.

“Across the board you are going to find less of the sizes, less of the availability in almost all of the categories,” Sadove, 57, said yesterday in a telephone interview. “You are probably going to see less aggressive markdowns than you saw last year.” Saks operates 53 Saks Fifth Avenue stores.

The company, based in New York, is aiming to order at least 20 percent less from its vendors in 2009 and forecasts a jump in gross margin.

Scarcity drives profit because when consumers fear missing out, chains can sell goods earlier in the season at higher margins, said Antony Karabus, CEO of the retail- consulting firm Karabus Management in Toronto.

Last year, retailers marked down leftover $3,795 Thom Browne suits and $520 Ferragamo loafers.

This year may give way to emptier shelves, fewer brands and styles, Karabus said.

“People are going to have to come in earlier if they want to make sure they get the items they want,” Karabus said.

Total U.S. retail sales will rise 1.1 percent in the second half of 2009 compared with the same period a year earlier, after dropping 2.6 percent in the first half, estimated the International Council of Shopping Centers, a New York-based trade group.

Shares Recover

Saks shares fell 13 cents to $3.73 at 4 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The shares have more than doubled from a low of $1.55 in March.

Seattle-based department- store chain Nordstrom Inc., whose inventory reductions have outpaced sales declines, declined 67 cents to $18.27, after bouncing from $7.81 in November.

Neiman Marcus, based in Dallas, is owned by Warburg Pincus LLC and TPG.

The chain cut orders 25 percent in the quarter ended May 2 and said on June 10 that it is being “conservative” for the rest of the year.

Both Neiman and Saks have said they are weeding out underperforming labels.

Nordstrom and Cincinnati-based Macy’s Inc., the owner of Bloomingdale’s, have said they are buying less, too.

Executives at Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom and Macy’s declined requests for interviews for this story.

U.S. luxury retailers already have been working for months to align inventories with sales trends by offering more discounts, returning merchandise to vendors and canceling orders.

Nordstrom’s inventory per square foot fell 12 percent in the first quarter from the prior year, faster than the company’s sales decline of 9.2 percent, the chain said May 14.

‘Scarcity’

“Luxury has always been about scarcity, about limited distribution, so if you don’t buy it at a certain point in time, there won’t be anymore of it in your size,” Sadove said.

Designer shoes may be hardest to find, according to New York-based research firm Retail Eye Partners. Stores already have cut purchases of new styles, said Sapna Shah, co-founder of Retail Eye.

Jimmy Choo Ltd. is focusing on must-have exceptional styles, such as $1,395 embroidered stilettos, and on the lowest- priced shoes in the collection, CEO Joshua Schulman said at a Monaco conference this month.

New autumn shoes start at $365, according to its Web site yesterday.

The company was founded in London and its shops include locations in New York and Beverly Hills, California.

Gucci, Paris-based PPR SA’s biggest luxury label, said it is cutting production and the number of styles.

75 Handbags

We don’t need 75 variations on the same handbag,” Gucci CEO Patrizio di Marco said in an interview in Florence, Italy, last month. “Two or three are enough.”

In this economy, it is better for retailers to risk missing sales than to have to mark down merchandise as much as they did last year, Karabus said in a June 16 phone interview.

Discounts reached 70 percent on some items, eroding profitability.

Our whole industry is trying to get inventory down to a level that scarcity is a part of the equation that the customer is doing,” Neiman Marcus CEO Burton Tansky, 71, said on a March 11 conference call.

Neiman Marcus’s gross margin — the share of sales after subtracting the cost of goods sold — in the quarter ending in January will widen to 26.4 percent from 23.9 percent, estimated Grant Jordan an analyst for Wachovia Capital Markets LLC in Charlotte, North Carolina.

‘Very Unusual’

Saks forecast that its gross margin will recover to as much as 37 percent in the second half of 2009. That compares with a margin of 27.5 percent in the same period of 2008, according to third- and fourth-quarter sales data compiled by Bloomberg.

Saks’s losses will narrow this year, while Macy’s, the second-biggest U.S. department-store chain, will return to profitability, according to analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

“There was an enormous excess in the system,” Sadove, the Saks CEO, said. “That was something that was very unusual, and it is unlikely that you will see levels like that again.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Cotten Timberlake in Washington at ctimberlake@bloomberg.net





The terrible truth about shopping – Come spendere, essere felici e sentirsi in colpa…

11 03 2009

La pulsione all’acquisto (di lusso o no), e il piacere che ne deriva sono le risposte moderne al ricordo atavico dell’essere evolutivamente nati come cacciatori prima e raccoglitori poi.

Questo è probabilmente il motivo per cui l’e-commerce (cioè la caccia su Internet) non potrà mai soppiantare la caccia in terreno aperto: troppo semplice e troppo “aiutato”…..ma questo è un altro discorso.

L’articolo che vi riporto è interessante perchè, ci piaccia o no, indica che le persone (e non sono poche, in pratica sembrerebbe che tutte quelle non toccate dalla crisi si comportino nel modo descritto) preferiscono correre rischi “etici”, piuttosto che riunciare alla caccia e alla predazione.

Rinunciano però a mostrarla la preda, come se possa esistere un cacciatore che non si vanti dei suoi trofei.

Non credo quindi che questa compressione/reticenza possa resistere più di tanto; chi per primo riuscirà a soddisfare i bisogni, oggi opposti tra loro, di soddisfazione e di status symbol, potrà raccogliere molto anche nei terreni aridi della crisi.

Non a caso la cura del corpo (e dello “spirito”) sotto forma di spa, viaggi cultural-enogastronomici, e simili sembrerebbero non risentire poi molto della crisi.

Fabio

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by Huma Qureshi

The Observer, Sunday 8 March 2009

Madame Bovary and Rebecca Bloomwood make an unlikely pairing. But the 19th-century tragic literary heroine and the Gucci-obsessed star of latest chick-flick Confessions of a Shopaholic have two things in common: they both shop and they both lie about it. A lot.

They are not alone: when it comes to shopping, money and credit cards, it seems many of us are prepared to tell more than a few little white lies – particularly if it makes us look less frivolous in a credit crunch.

According to research from insurer eSure, one in 10 Brits has resorted to lying about how much they are spending or what they are buying because they do not want to be seen as showing off in a recession, while statistics from Kensington Financial Management Consultants show 38% of shoppers feel guilty spending in a credit crunch, but carry on shopping nevertheless, and 50% admit they hide their purchases from the prying eyes of partners.

“The credit crunch has left a lot of people feeling uncomfortable with shopping, even if they can still afford to, because they may have friends or family members who are not in a position to do so any more,” says Marisa Peer, a life coach and behavioural expert.

“When people you know have lost jobs and are not as financially comfortable as they once were, it can make you feel very uneasy. That’s why we’ll embroider the truth and say we’ve had something for years, or bought it in the sale, or got it as a gift, when the truth is, it’s new and expensive.”

Recessional guilt

Psychologist Cary Cooper calls it “recessional guilt” – and he believes many people are suffering from it.

“When large numbers of people are losing their jobs, those with reasonable job security – who still have a disposable income – feel conflicted about their spending habits,” he says. ”

In boom times, people talk openly about the expensive things they’ve bought – it’s part of the materialistic process. But now, nobody wants to be seen as part of a greed culture, particularly since greed has been blamed for playing a part in causing the recession.

Therefore, consumers who can still afford to shop will try to justify it, or rationalise it, by buying in sales or hiding things they have bought or implying that something was a better deal than it might really have been.”

In New York, shopping in a recession is becoming some people’s dirty little secret.

Recent reports have emerged on news channel NBC of shamefaced shoppers asking for plain, unbranded paper bags at top-end stores such as Hermes, Tiffany and Chanel so they can covertly carry away their wares without looking like they’ve splurged.

British shoppers at Harvey Nichols and Harrods haven’t asked for a similar discretion service yet – but online shoppers at luxury website Net-a-Porter.com can request “discreet packaging” whereby orders are delivered in plain brown paper bags – so no one needs to know.

The website says: “Psst … your secret’s safe with us! Your order will be delivered in an unbranded, recycled brown paper bag.”

Sensitivity

Georgie Coleridge Cole, editor of shopping guide website Sheerluxe.com, says: “No one really wants to flash expensive things in other people’s faces right now. There is a certain sensitivity around in response to the recession. ”

Claudia Falla, 26, from Fulham, London, goes to extreme lengths to hide her shopping.

She says: “I do feel really guilty shopping in the credit crunch and I will often pretend that I’ve had something for ages so that my boyfriend doesn’t realise it’s new.

Sometimes he’ll say ‘When did you get that? Is it new?’ and I’ll say ‘No, I wore it ages ago when we went to that place, remember?’ and change the subject.

“It gets a little difficult as we live together, so sometimes I leave shopping bags at work or rip off the labels as soon as I have bought it and wear the new clothes home.

One thing which is easy to hide is spending money on beauty treats, which I have been doing more and more – it’s a less obvious way of shopping.”

But her credit-crunched guilt is catching up with her: “It’s definitely at the back of my mind that I should be saving, not shopping, but then work and life is so stressful at the moment that I want to treat myself more.”

According to eSure, 54% of shoppers feel it is insensitive to talk about expensive purchases in front of friends at a time when most people are feeling the pinch more than ever.

That’s when the whitewashing starts.

Stylists’ agent Desreen Brooks booked an expensive luxury romantic weekend in Paris as a gift for her boyfriend for Valentine’s Day – but pretended to her friends like it was a last-minute bargain and a simple low-key trip away.

“When my friends asked me how the weekend was, I made out like we stayed in a simple hotel and spent the weekend browsing and walking and window-shopping – I basically played the whole thing down,” she says.

Inappropriate

In reality, Brooks and her boyfriend stayed in a luxury boutique hotel, ate a five-course meal and sipped champagne on the train journey.

“I thought it would be inappropriate to talk about splashing out because I know friends who have lost their jobs,” she says.

“I had budgeted and saved up for the trip, so it’s not like I had overspent – but I know everyone is telling you to cut back and save more.

“I know I could have used the money to pay off my overdraft, but doing something special with my boyfriend was important to me.

Besides, I can justify it by saying we’re doing our bit for the economy.”

Clare Rauth, from Essex, recently got married and used the gift money to pay for a new bathroom.

“It’s quite luxurious,” she admits. “We’ve got lights in the tub.”

But Rauth says she still feels guilty about the cost, even though the money was a present for the couple to spend as they wished.

“Our friends and parents think we should have saved the money – they don’t know what the point of spending so much is and it’s a bit embarrassing to tell them how much the total bathroom costs,” she says. “A lot of our friends have been made redundant and I don’t like talking about it in front of them, but we just wanted to have a bit of luxury at home.”





Luxe labels are the way forward

18 01 2009

Ancora un nuovo articolo che spinge all’undestatement esclusivo.

Personalmente credo che rifocalizzarsi sulla qualità “reale” dei prodotti e della comunicazione e non sulla affermazione dell’appartenenza a un “brand lifestyle” possa essere anche la miglior strategia per competere in questo momento di crisi.

Il problema è che l’understatement esclusivo comporta una riduzione dei volumi che difficilmente potranno di conseguenza sostenere i ritmi di crescita degli utili che tutti gli azionisti richiedono alle marche.

“Un filo di perle, un filo di trucco, un filo di tacco” non genera molto volume, ma potenzialmente molto valore.

Da un lato sembrerebbe quindi che nessuno dei grandi marchi possa reinventarsi in tempi brevi e senza una profonda ristrutturazione dell’organizzazione, ma soprattutto della cultura aziendale, che richiede necessariamente una capacità di investimento che in questo momento nessuno sembra in grado di mettere in campo.

Dall’altro lato i “non-marchi” (piccole o micro aziende che sempre hanno coniugato qualità e sobrietà), sopravvivono a stento a causa della loro limitata internazionalizzazione (generata dalla non conoscenza delle regole e della prassi), dell’accesso al solo mercato locale, e dal mancato accesso a una conoscenza manageriale meno “istintiva”.

Stiamo assistendo al passaggio epocale del tramonto dello “strapotere” del branding e all’alba della capacità di ascolto e di implementazione dei bisogni di ogni cliente, preso singolarmente.

Solo chi ascolterà la Voice Of the Customer e saprà orientare i suoi processi e organizzazione aziendale potrà evitare di trovarsi seduto tra le macerie.

Io credo che questo sia un obiettivo fattibile e possibile.

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Feeling the fashion frost of January?

Then why not broaden your horizons and invest in understated luxe pieces that will last right the way through the credit crunch, says Bethan Cole.

Last Updated: 6:09PM GMT 13 Jan 2009

It’s that strange, gloomy seasonal hinterland of January: the jollity of Christmas is over and the rites of spring are distant on the horizon.

There’s a feeling of austerity and bleakness around, partly due to the weather, partly the economic climate. Only the other week, Karl Lagerfeld said in an interview with the BBC, “I see (the recession) like a cleaning up. (The economy) was too rotten anyway – so it had to be cleaned up”.

Perhaps not for those poor souls who worked at Woolworths, but for the superannuated and those whose wardrobes are bulging with excess, it’s certainly time for a reality check.

It goes without saying that ostentation is seriously de trop right now. “There’s a change going on that could be termed the ‘baglash’,” says Juliet Warkentin, content director of trend forecasters Worth Global Style Network (WGSN). “It’s a movement against de rigueur, It bags and conspicuous consumption. In its place there’s a humbler design approach to luxury that’s all about understated perfection and unconscious simplicity.” In other words, it’s time to purge pieces that exude the hubris of boom time.

Logos, bling and handbags dripping with trinkets are declasse.

According to Dana Thomas, author of “Deluxe – How Luxury Lost its Lustre” (£8.99, Penguin), ostensible luxury is over because it has become ubiquitous. For example, Louis Vuitton’s logo, the intertwined “L” and “V”, once the signpost of exclusivity, has become the badge of every aspiring WAG. “For the modern consumer the placement of a perfect seam or an immaculately-sculpted collar is more awe-inspiring and authentic than any logo,” says Warkentin.

Thus Bottega Veneta’s woven handbags, with their intricate craftsmanship and subtle, yet unmistakable, transmission of brand identity chimes with the times more than a vast tote adorned with logo-ed gold stirrups or padlocks.

Ditto red-carpet-ready, Swarovski crystals-encrusted sandals, which have been replaced by butter-soft leathers (see Rupert Sanderson and Christian Louboutin) and brightly-hued suedes (see Jonathan Kelsey for Mulberry).

A precision-cut LBD by Balenciaga has usurped Roberto Cavalli’s slit-to-the-navel confections which screamed wealth, privilege and OTT glamour from every ruffle.

Even Versace have ditched their signature sexy dresses (at least temporarily, anyway) in favour of a more refined, pretty aesthetic thanks to haute eccentric illustrator Julie Verhoeven, who created their quirky prints for spring/summer 2009.

In these nebulous and grey times most of us are seeking to build a core collection of investment pieces – items fashioned from the finest fabrics – in our wardrobes. The labels to covet are Bottega Veneta, Calvin Klein, Chanel, Jil Sander, Hermès and Martin Margiela who all speak a quiet, measured language of luxury, of quality built into to every seam.

“The ultimate in discretion is Bottega Veneta,” says Warkentin. “As for pared down opulence? Miuccia Prada leads the zeitgeist and her spring/summer 2009 collection is no exception. Her spare, elegant line is classice yet feels at once fresh and new.”

Averyl Oates, buying director at Harvey Nichols, is treasuring a heavy sculptural Jil Sander wool coat she bought this season. “It’s so couture-like and Raf Simons (creative director of Jil Sander) has kept the detailing to a minimum to better serve the dramatic effect of the exaggerated collar and augmented sleeves,” she coos. “It’s a truly beautiful investment piece that has taken me from 2008 to 2009 and is still going strong.”

Brix Smith-Start of London’s hip clothes boutique Start feels we should be treasuring the high quality classics along with the recherche. “If you’re doing an edit on your wardrobe, keep anything black and anything unusual, such as a beautiful ancient silk kimono.”

The moral of the story is consign anything that shouts “I’m considerably richer than you” to the cupboard, charity shop or eBay.

“Store anything with too much bling – the new fashions are dynamic, sensual and free of gimmicks and unnecessary hardware,” confirms Harriet Quick, fashion features director of Vogue. Victoria Beckham got it very, very wrong when she sported an £80,0000 Hermès special edition Birkin the other day. Whilst a classic Hermès is a great investment right now, anything that trumpets extreme wealth, as this jewelled version did, looks frankly ugly and insensitive in the current climate.

Seems like old WAG habits die hard.





The Bare Necessities: Marketing Luxury Goods in a Bad Economy

24 12 2008

Credo che nel mercato americano sia ormai consolidato il trend dell’austerità nei comportamenti d’acquisto. Spero però non nasca l’avversità verso chi compra “Luxury” simile alla gogna a cui vengono sottoposti i fumatori.

I tagli degli articoli che incontro sui maggiori media americani mi sembrano tutti orientati in quella direzione….

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The Wall Street Journal

By CHRISTINE ROSEN

Pity the luxury-goods industry. It faces one of the more daunting marketing challenges of this holiday season: persuading the anxious consumer, in an economic recession, to spend thousands of dollars on a purse or a bauble.

For nearly a decade, the makers of luxury goods have tried to reconcile their marketing efforts, which have broadened their customer base by appealing to a less élite clientele, with the need to maintain the haute image that provoked that clientele’s purchases.

Brands like Tiffany & Co., Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Chanel have promoted their products as luxurious yet attainable investments, all the while trying to remain above the scrum of middle-class consumer culture.

As reporter Dana Thomas noted in her 2007 book, “Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster,” Chanel positions itself as the embodiment of cultured Parisian elegance, but throughout the 1990s its highest-selling store was in a shopping mall in Waikiki, Hawaii.

High-end watchmaker Patek Philippe adopted the slogan “You never really own a Patek Philippe. You merely look after it for the next generation.” The words are meant to provoke family feelings rather than status anxiety — yet the accompanying image almost always features a father and son yachting rather than, say, squirrel hunting.

Perhaps the most outrageous example of aspirational marketing was Louis Vuitton’s “Core Values” campaign.

One of the commercials running on television and in movie theaters took the notion of retail therapy to a new level, marrying lush visuals to fortune-cookie philosophy. As poignant guitar music played, fast-paced images of people in contemplative poses appeared: A man, lakeside, performed tai-chi; a dewy-eyed model gazed longingly at the camera; a man stood alone in the middle of a desert, his linen shirt flapping in the breeze.

Each stirring picture was accompanied by haiku-like text: “What is a journey?” . . . It’s a process . . . A discovery . . . A journey brings us face to face. . . With ourselves.” As the commercial progressed, one almost expected New Age guru Eckhart Tolle to trundle by with an LV-bedecked tote bag.

In the end, however, the viewer was left with only a brief, shimmering glimpse of the iconic Louis Vuitton logo (no crass product-pushing here) and a question: “Where will life take you?

This Christmas season, it will be taking a lot fewer of us to the Louis Vuitton store.

Luxury purveyors’ standby tactic — subtly stoking envy — may well appear unseemly in these times. Yet traditional American marketing strategies, such as celebrity endorsements or the use of adorable spokescharacters, won’t work for companies like Louis Vuitton. What’s a purveyor of wallet-emptying handbags or big-ticket jewelry to do?

Some luxury brands have taken a direct approach, focusing on their most likely customers — those with the most disposable income — and conducting business pretty much as usual. The message of their ads is clear: If you need to ask how much our stuff costs, you can’t afford it.

One recent Louis Vuitton print ad for its line of jewelry (it has branched out from bags) featured a close-up of a hefty gem. “Ring in 18K gold with diamonds, red, pink and blue spinels,” read the straightforward text, but there was no mention of price.

Cartier is upfront about the cost of its $9,950 Pasha Seatimer Chronograph watch in an ad that carries the tagline “Take Your Time.” One imagines the jeweler is not referring to its layaway program. And we can still open the newspaper to find Chanel gamely hawking a $2,150 “Essential” lambskin pouchette.

Other luxury brands have opted to step gingerly around our current economic crisis, like a graceful hostess who changes the subject when someone brings up something embarrassing. Earlier this week, Tiffany & Co. took out a full-page color ad in the New York Times to sell diamond rings, the cheapest of which costs four grand. “Dreams Can Still Come True,” read the sweetly optimistic ad copy. “Give her the ring of her dreams. For less than you imagine, the best there is.”

But the DeBeers diamond company has adopted the most creative strategy. Its recent ads attempt to convince us that expensive diamonds are not luxuries but thoughtful investments — better, in fact, than putting your money in the stock market.

Riffing on DeBeers’s familiar “A Diamond Is Forever” slogan, one full-page newspaper ad declared: “Here Today. Here Tomorrow. In times like these, it’s perhaps wise to reflect on the things that last rather than the things that come and go.” A diamond, DeBeers tells us, “has outlasted all that history can throw at it, from the formation of continents to the turmoil of markets. Across the generations, in a thousand years’ time, a diamond will still be here. Just like love.” Just not like your 401(k).

Another DeBeers ad appeals to the thrifty natures of the men who supposedly do the bulk of retail diamond-buying: “Here’s to Less,” it begins. “Our lives are filled with things. We’re overwhelmed by possessions we own but do not treasure . . . Perhaps it will be different now. Perhaps now is an opportunity to reassess what really matters. After all, if everything you ever bought her disappeared overnight, what would she truly miss?

The ad features a pair of diamond stud earrings and, as its tag line, “A Diamond Is Forever.” Not only does DeBeers apply a thin veneer of faux virtue to the vice of luxury shopping, but it engages in a sophisticated sort of intellectual bullying: Go ahead and buy her that cashmere sweater for Christmas, it seems to say. Unless she’s buried in it, you’ll have nothing to show for your purchase in the long run.

Some respect is due the luxury purveyors who have wholeheartedly embraced the current mood, damn the consequences to their bottom line. Their ads have an appropriately funereal quality.

A recent advertisement for clothing designer Tom Ford’s New York store looked more like a condolence card: a black background with white lettering bore the stark and regrettable message: SALE. A nearby Gucci ad, with cowering lower-case text, stated simply, “now on sale with additional markdowns.”

In “Luxury Fever” (1999), Cornell University economist Robert H. Frank argued that “the runaway spending at the top [of the income scale] has been a virus, one that’s spawned a luxury fever that, to one degree or another, has all of us in its grip.” Our frantic pursuit of fancy watches and sports cars, he said, won’t ultimately make us happy.

Perhaps this is why, much further down on the merchandise scale, marketers are now opting for warmer, cheerful (and more blatantly manipulative) messages to consumers. Best Buy’s recent ad campaign, whose slogan is “You, Happier,” actually features employees helping the elderly and the blind.

Perhaps we should follow the advice of high-end companies like DeBeers and “reassess what really matters.” If we do, we might discover that this current recession is a good opportunity to break our luxury fever.

Ms. Rosen is a fellow at the Ethics & Public Policy Center in Washington.