Image courtesy of Fashion Times
"Luxury brands always need a back story" stressed Dr Timothy Jackson, journalist for the Financial Times and Director of the Luxury Brand Management MBA at Glasgow Caledonian University at our Future Cities Forum 3 held last week at The Clubhouse, St James's, London.
These "back stories" relate to heritage, craftsmanship and authenticity and have always marked out luxury products from the ordinary and mass market. Lamborghini cars had a heritage although it was an agricultural one Dr Jackson pointed out. Yet the back story has always needed money to exploit it.
The marriage of Bahrain-based Investcorp's financing with Tom Ford's creative talent saw Gucci repositioned and reinvigorated in the 1990s luxury market. Ford had a vision for what modern luxury brands should be and he fundamentally changed operating practices in the sector, by moving from third party and franchising models, to directly controlled stores with a strong, centrally controlled brand.
Dr Jackson also talked about how 'legitimacy' is a new part of the luxury brand success story. Products such as watches are being defined by "extreme" users as in sports stars, divers, and pilots - all is "tested on the battlefield".
Mobile, he continued, is now the base-line for all millennials' buying decisions and this was echoed by CEO of De Beers, Bruce Cleaver last week talking on CNN about this age group being avid readers of blogs, needing to understand the story behind the brand.
Watch Dr Tim Jackson at the Forum:
The younger generations in China are climbing the connoisseurship ladder. They are also embracing some of China's history and traditions rather than being defined as consumers by buying only Western brands.