The NEW affordable luxury brands

The NEW affordable luxury brands ….
GANT store
The international financial crisis which is far from over in most parts of the world is set to have
diverse lasting effects on fashion retail. Long considered mid range, brands such as LACOSTE,
more regarded as premium brands and this is the case especially in emerging markets where
consumers are constantly learning.
The shop fittings, the merchandising, the atmosphere and the similarities in design of the
products almost create a confusion among consumers who evidently identify in pricing as the
only major difference.
Therefore, more and more consumers perceive these brands as premium or even
luxury. For example, there are hardly any differences between a HUGO BOSS store
and MASSIMO DUTTI one, from the fittings, furniture to the window displays.
The similarity is even stronger when it comes to the products sold by the two brands which are
mostly made in the same factories in Turkey, Mexico, Romania etc, using the same raw materials
and finishes. The same comparison is valid between a LACOSTE store and VILEBREQUIN
one, both having almost identical furniture and displays.
Take for instance RALPH LAUREN (POLO) and TOMMY HILFIGER the second being
positioned lower than the first one. By using the same suppliers not only for their merchandise
but also for the furniture, the two brands seem more and more alike, although differently
positioned in the past.
A third such striking comparison is between GANT and PAUL & SHARK, whose collections
and shops look more and more alike. The ebbing purchasing power but also a psychological
desire against the all too familiar ''mix and match'' trend have contributed to the luxury
positioning of these brands, with an increasing number of consumers going back to the ''total
look'', which was a must a decade ago.
This is not only a response to the mix and match trend but it also constitutes a very practical
approach, wealthy consumers being able to afford more products for less money when shopping
for these brands. In the past year, I have often come accross very satisfied wealthy consumers
leaving these shops with a stock of shoes, shirts of dresses, of different colours and styles.
Are these consumers forming a new intermediate target segment of those who no longer buy
luxury brands or is it just a timely matter till the crisis will be completely over?
I believe this is a huge opportunity for these brands on how they position themselves and how
many of them understand they can win by marketing more, promoting more, although their
initial core strategy was lack of promotion. If tackled strategically, these new brands also have
the opportunity to attract the traditional ''mix and match'' consumers, especially those who are
growing dissatisfied with the poor quality of a garment from a mass market brand. I refer to ''mix
and match'' as the look which includes an expensive luxury branded product, especially
accessories such as shoes and bags and a mass market products, usually apparel (i.e. Hermes bag
with an H&M shirt).
Pierre Moise
Affordable luxury brands monitoring
C Luxury
London office Dec 4 , 2010