American luxury brands pride themselves on status and exclusivity; however this has been a challenge to maintain in an on-demand world. There’s a fine balance between being luxury and being accessible and many believe that some brands have not thought this through. In the last couple of years, a few American luxury brands have realized that they had become too available and accessible. In this blog, we will examine a few aspects that have definitely played a part in American luxury brands becoming too accessible.
Overexpansion is something that brands such as Michael Kors have been guilty of — it’s a problem that runs rampant with American luxury brands.
This is considered a huge problem with the accessible luxury sector as it is easy to become slightly too mass-market in a bid to chase sales. Michael Kors and Coach were both guilty of this, although both are now rebuilding their brand equity, however, is it a little too late for the brands?
Not only does overexpansion make a brand more accessible (and thereby less desirable), but it also makes it harder to sell the products at such high price points, another surefire way to decrease luxury… and to hurt a business’s bottom line. At some point, these brands are pressured into downward pricing that may not ultimately fit into the company’s rent/lease structures, which can create more problems on top of declining sales. This is even harder when there’s already pressure to put items on sale, which can be considered creating a “highly promotional environment.”
Technology and Social Media
As you know, we live in a world where almost everything is accessible through a computer, smartphone or tablet. Digital has democratized so much of what had only been attainable by the few – whether that is through access to information or actual ownership. But now, technology is being used for American luxury brands to tap into the sharing economy and it’s hard to know what is exclusive or not any more. Many believe that the sharing economy and the luxury economy are now coexisting. And nowhere is that more obvious than in social media. Several communities have sprung up on Instagram and Snapchat that promote American luxury brands and a luxury lifestyle, making brand promises everywhere and promoting themselves as accessible to everyone.
Creating a balance
To manage the balance of exclusivity and accessibility, it is essential that luxury brands maintain their perceptions of exclusivity and uniqueness by carefully designed marketing strategies. This can be done by offering a signature product along with product line extensions which can be marketed at almost any capacity. With this strategy, American luxury brands can have the best of both worlds, maintaining exclusivity with signature products and utilizing the sharing economy with product extensions.
By Lolita Alford