Explain Critical evaluation of luxury brand stores? Compare and contrast the stores (DOS or Flagship) of Louis Vuitton & Gucci. You should analyse and compare the consistency of marketing message, which the stores provide in relation to their other ‘brand touch points’. Include an analysis of the respective brands’ heritage and DNA and how these are communicated via the retail store.
Gucci is one of the world’s prominent luxury Brands in the Fashion world. The Company was founded in the year 1921, which became renowned for its high quality Italian craftsmanship, high quality of fashion goods and innovative designs. The company manufactures and distributes, high end fashion goods including, handbags, luggage bags, fine jewellery, time pieces, shoes, fragrances, ready to wear silks and eye wear products. The Gucci products are mostly available exclusively at directly operated boutiques and with a handful of authorized department and specialty stores (Lloyd et al., 2006).
Louis Vuitton is a French fashion house and the world’s largest and valuable brand of luxury goods. The company is in to manufacturing of leather goods, watches, jewellery, shoes, trunks, handbags and other accessories that are adorned with the LV monogram. This international fashion house sells its products via standalone outlets, high end departmental stores, and through online retailing of its products through its company website. Many of the products manufactured by this company have the signature brown Damier and monogram Canvas Material used that adds iconic value to its products. The Company has its presence in over fifty countries, with more than 460 exclusive boutiques operated worldwide (Edberg, 2010).
2. Brand Overview:
A Brand is a graphical identity of image of a company that represents the company and helps build emotional connectivity with the Target Audiences and customers of the company. It is a symbol of collection of experiences, associations and trust of the stakeholders with a company. The Brand image of a company can be further strengthened through visual representation and efficient brand communication by the company (Atwal & Williams, 2009).
(a)Brand Positioning and Perceptual Mapping: The Brand Positioning for both the brands Gucci as well as Louis Vuitton has always been close to differentiation by positioning the brands as sophisticated, innovative high quality and elite brands. The strategic orientation of this positioning for both these brands is based on utmost adherence to the desired quality and performance of the products offered by the brands (Flueckiger, 2009). The Symbolic expressive value of these brands further ads up to the high class positioning of these brands in the international markets.
The concept of perpetual mapping revolves around the display of the location of these brands or products using more than two dimensions. The act of perpetual mapping through development of ad campaigns and web promotions thus pulls customers towards these brands and increases the overall brand appeal for the product and offerings by these brands (Vi Nguyen, 2004).
(b) Brand Heritage and DNA: Brand Heritage has an indispensable connection with the history and DNA of organizations, that posse these brands. The Brand heritage is one of the prominent strengths of several responsible and ethical organizations, which work as a link to strengthen the emotional connection between the company and its target Audience (Fabrikant, 2002). The Brand Louis Vuitton is accordingly a French brand, who DNA may be traces down to the country France in the European region. The Several Art forms used by this brand in its designs are observed to have a deeper connection with the French culture. The Brand heritage of Gucci may be accordingly traced down to the Italian culture and its contemporary traditional designs (McKnight, 1987).
(c) Brand Identity: The Brand identity is a way in which an organization wants its target Audience to perceive its brand name, logo, communication style and other visual elements associated with the brand (Tungate, 2009). The luxury brands Gucci and Louis Vuitton have indeed developed and extended their respective brand identities through iconic yet innovative luxury products that have attracted huge reputation and popularity to these brands. The inscribed ‘G’ monogram for the Italian brand Gucci, is explicit representation of luxury and glamour that is recognized globally (Appendix 1.2). The Brand Louis Vuitton also inscribes the letters ‘LV’ on few of its signature products that displays a potent symbol of modern luxury (Appendix 1.1). The exclusive boutiques by Gucci as well as Louis Vuitton, and the established distribution networks limited only to high end stores, further enhances the Brand identity of these luxury brands (Luxury Daily, 2013).
3. Brand Communication and Message/ Brand Touch points:
Directly owned Stores or Flagship stores for Gucci are about 280 stores across the globe, mostly in the developed and developing markets in the world. These stores are directly operated by the company and houses exclusive Gucci products and offerings. Gucci was awarded the 38th most valuable brand in the world by Forbes in the year 2013. The company enjoys high brand equity throughout the world and has helped the society in with standing several economic down turns (Kalfopoulos, 2012). The Brand Message of the company Gucci has always been closely associated with sex appeal (Secara, 2012). Attracting the target Audience through its vibrant and controversial visuals as a Brand Messages has always been a part of the Communications and advertising promotions of the Brand Gucci. The company has experimented using floral patterns in its men’s spring collection of the year 2014, which was a grand success (Cognizant 20-20 Insights, 2012). The Company had participated in several fashion shows to reach out to its target customers and convey its brand message (Refer to Appendix 2.2). ‘Exclusivity’ is the prominent message that this brand has conveyed from time to time in all of its advertising campaigns. Many of the advertising campaigns, especially the print ads reflect a sexy and vibrant image of female characters. The same is also displayed undoubtedly thorough participation in the numerous fashion shows across the European region. Gucci has also attracted a lot of attention from the elite target audience through several controversial advertisings and promotion. The Promotion of the perfume ‘Opium’ by using the naked image of celebrity Sophie Dahl, was one of the most controversial promotions of this brand. Gucci even had an extreme print advertisement in Vogue that created controversy due to the inscribed ‘G’ in the public hair of a woman’s image (Luxury Daily, 2013). These actions and brand touch points helped gain better media coverage for the company that boosted brand awareness of Gucci.The Brand Louis Vuitton has more than 500 stores around the world and is one of the largest luxury brands in terms of total Revenues and sales attracted by its parent company. The company however, is working on a strategy to limit its new store openings, and in turn focus on preserving its exclusive image (Palmitessa, 2012). The company had successfully managed to present its print campaigns to the Audience through a new mobile application (Refer to Appendix 3.1). The Brand Louis Vuitton maintains its effluent brand touch points by neither having any discount nor any duty free stores across the globe (Jones, 2014). The company in addition to its flag ship stores sells its exclusive products through its online shopping platform, ‘Louisvuitton.com’ that can be accessed from any part of the world (Cognizant 20-20 Insights, 2012). Its newest mobile application Amble, allows all the users of this application to follow their favorite celebrities’ favorite city experiences and has several features of creating one’s own videos and notes with those celebrities (Clow et al., 2010). The Brand Louis Vuitton has always preferred celebrity advertisement and endorsement of its newly arrived products thorough celebrities (Refer to Appendix 2.1). Thus, the logo of this brand, the visual identity of the style displayed by its products and the exclusive monogram canvas of ‘LV’ on its products all protects and strengthens Louis Vuitton’s Brand Identity and sails it effectively conveying a ‘Heritage Brand Message’.
4. Critical Comparison of Gucci and Louis Vuitton Companies:
Gucci has built a very strong image in the Fashion market, like its competitor Brand Louis Vuitton. The Brand Gucci has always tried to market its brand in innovative ways. The Advertisements of this company, like a girl performing martial arts, gives a clear message of the comfort level of the fabric that this brand offers. The Brand Louis Vuitton on the other hand, prefers to highlight eminent personalities and celebrities while advertising and endorsements. The use of Artistic symbols in the product designs of the Brand Louis Vuitton are widely spotted as compared to the traditional designs of the Brand Gucci.
The Brand Gucci has shown a higher degree of corporate social responsibility over the Brand Louis Vuitton for its partnership with the UNICEF since the year 2005. The Brand Gucci makes a generous donation every year to UNICEF, by offering a fixed percentage of revenues generated by the directly owned flagship stores of the company (Bengtsen, 2007).
The products and offerings by the brand Louis Vuitton are more influence with artistic patterns and graffiti. The company has always strived to collaborate with several renowned artists to reflect various art forms on their products designs and offerings. Takashi Murakami, the artist who created the much copied cherry blossom print for the Brand, is an example of how the Brand is highly reflects the innovative art forms by renowned artist across the world, from time to time basis.
1. Remaining Consistent and Authentic in terms of the range of products and offerings to the elite target segment is the primary recommendation for the Brands Louis Vuitton and Gucci.
2. These Brands may look at constantly updating and modifying the designs of their luxury offerings to suit the tastes and preferences of the modern consumer at a global level. The Luxury brands have to more often server as the cultural references points towards the innovations and changes in the global lifestyle habits of the respective target consumers (Okonkwo, 2009).
3. The Brands can also think of innovative communication channels for connecting well with their Target consumer and keeping these high-end target audiences, loyal to their respective brands. Maintaining an updated global customer database and sending them cards and goodies on special occasions like Anniversaries and Birthdays would strengthening the customer relationship with these brands.
4. These Luxury brands Gucci may follow Louis Vuitton’s innovative offering idea of providing customized offerings to its customers. Many of the products offered by Louis Vuitton are made to order, beaming in exotic skins that create invitation spaces in their exclusive brand stores (Palmitessa, 2012).
5. Maintaining enhanced personal relationships with the customers through Social media networks is a technology enabled strategy that has become the need of the hour for all the premium brands (Kim & Ko, 2010). Also a lot of demographic information of the prominent customers using these luxury brands may be extracted through social media. This information may be further used to track the tastes and preferences of the luxury goods users, to provide vital inputs for research and developmental activities in terms of manufacturing innovative product offerings.
The both the luxury brands Gucci and Louis Vuitton have adopted a brand strategy of addressing the niche elite segment in different manners. The various aspects of Brand communication and messages delivered to the target audience though differing to a high extent, both these brands have been successful in managing the cut throat competition in the luxury products segment across the international markets. It is now imperative for both these brands to extend its retail horizon beyond the brick and mortar stores to virtual stores maintaining the desired brand heritage and brand exclusivity and creativity of these luxury brands.
Atwal, G., & Williams, A., 2009, Luxury Brand Marketing -The Experience Is Everything, Brand Management, Vol. 16, 338-346.
Bengtsen Peter, 2007, Branding of Brand Hacking, MA dissertation, Department of Arts and cultural sciences, Lund University.
Camps Samuel and Jones Mayuko, 2014, The Art of Luxury Branding, ADMAP.
Clow Kenneth and Baack Donald, 2010, Integrated Advertising, promotion, and marketing communications, fourth Edition, London: Prentice Hall.
Fabrikant Geraldine, 2002, The media business: Advertising, Gucci’s current Campaign: recovering its elite image, the New York Times.