What means Co-Branding? To make it simple, it is the alliance of two brands, or a brand with a person (designer, artist etc.), or a customization in the creation of a new product or service. This product or service can be a limited edition or not. The objective is to bring an added value in term of design and/or innovation. By doing Co-brandings, companies ensure:
– Brand recognition for one or both parts,
– A larger product/service assortment (diversification) with a “more flexible” positioning (upgrade or more accessible),
– The growth of sales & new business openings.
Co-brand is not a new phenomenon! From the beginning of the 60’s, it has grown through laundry brands to create, for the first time, an image and a brand strategy. Today, this phenomenon has become a common practice of marketing and communication. Luxury houses haven’t hesitated to adopt it, for obvious reasons: expanding the customer base, conquer new territories, image transfer, legitimizing a product diversification, etc. But, what are the consequences of this communication tool on the Luxury sector?
Luxe & fashion: beginning of the “Masstige” development
Appeared over the last ten years, the Masstige term means the union of a prestigious brand with a consumer brand. The Co-branding + Masstige is a concept that is becoming more and more common. It allows, among other things, to a Luxury brand to be visible by a customer who is not yet a client of its products, by creating a strict range which doesn’t hit its Luxury image. In addition, they allow those who are unable to afford it, to access to a part of the dream that is Luxury. For example, we had the chance to purchase Karl Lagerfeld/ Versace/ Isabel Marant/ Lanvin/ Sonia Rykiel products by H&M, also Jean Paul Gaultier in La Redoute & in Target and Max Azria in the well-known french store, Carrefour. This is the current paradox of Luxury. Recently, Luxury clientele has expanded and this is probably the concept of co-branding that drives people to know more & access Luxury, or rather make them believe they buy it. It is true that from this point of view, with this new concept, the Luxury sector questions itself. We can’t neglect the fact that Luxury clients are aging and that the new generation is digital. As a consequence, the Luxury sector adapts itself to its future customers, but while necessarily preserving its own codes (story-telling, limited editions, sizes, etc). The objective is to increase the brand awareness & to recrut new and younger clients without losing their Luxury image.
Strengthening of the Luxury democratization
Nowadays, everyone can access to Luxury, every single person can have its piece of dream and reach expensive but reasonable pleasures. That is, at least, the message that many Luxury brands are developing in their communication. Before the 90s, there was a major difference between the communication of Luxury brands and masses brands. Today, the differences are reducing. The biggest factor of the Luxury democratization is not the fact that stores are increasing but it’s all about advertising. From the moment that you have pages and pages of advertising in “Elle” or “Vogue” magazines, you turn into a masses brand and you are less a Luxury brand. “Today, everyone wants a piece of luxury”, this quote shows that we are in the midst of a consumerism society that drives us. We want to have everything and consume everything. This democratic Luxury permits to meet the needs of mass populations who have a fascination for the world of Luxury.
Glamorization and opening of some sectors to Luxury
With the massive appearance of Co-brandings in the Luxury goods sector, some sector that doesn’t confer, at first sight, luxurious character, are placed on the front of the stage. In this way, they glamourize and diversify, increasing their visibility and attracting more and more customers. We have seen original Co-brandings that open the doors of Luxury to new sectors, such as aviation or even transport. For example, the Four Seasons and the 757 Boeing Jet created a private Four Seasons jet together. The famous hotel will offer to its more affluent customers, the chance to make a world tour of its hotels for 15 days in extraordinary destinations and providing visits of the most beautiful monuments of each city. The tour price is $ 100, 000… We told you, aviation can be very glamorous!
Another example, at the occasion of the “The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier, From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk” exhibition, the international company Thalys, decided to redecorate one of its trains with the colors of the French fashion designer Jean-Paul Gaultier, blue, white and red. It was attractive enough for us to board this fashion train.
To finish, Guerlain associated with Fiat to create « The Little Black Dress » car, after associated with Agnelle to create perfumed gloves. We can wonder if these Co-brandings announce the Guerlain diversification in leather good & Couture?
A new way of consuming: the Luxury hyper- personalization
In front of this democratization and those Co-branding accessible to the “masses”, brands have found a solution to meet their prestigious clients’ needs, who want exclusive products. Unique pieces, limited editions, custom objects… all are handmade with rare materials: Luxury brands want the ultimate to sign their superiority. For example, despite its Luxury reputation, the Louis Vuitton leather worker was no longer luxurious enough for the avid of exclusivity customers. To avert the risk of commoditization due to the success of its monogrammed canvas, the LVMH group puts the turbo on the hyper-luxury, adding “high leather” to his already lucrative structure. The trend is general. All brands are speaking of upmarket, which they describe with the ugly word “premiumisation“.
To talk a little more about Louis Vuitton, the brand launched in 2014 June, the “Icon & Iconoclasts” project that gives a white card to 6 designers for a collection of bags and luggage in limited edition. Called about the project, the designers Christian Louboutin, Karl Lagerfeld, Rei Kawakubo, Marc Newson, the architect Frank Gehry and the photographer Cindy Sherman has imagined a bag in Monogram canvas, available for sale in selected Louis Vuitton stores from mid-October.
In front of the discovery of these new processes in the Luxury market, we are eager to find out what will happen in 15 years. At the speed where the creativity of these brands goes, we can’t imagine the wonderful promises that they reserve to us.