down market

A New Bulgari

Isaac Mostovicz writes...

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Today I came across an interesting commentary item from Unbound Edition, a publication by marketing consulting firm Patrick Davis Partners. Last month Bulgari announced that they are overhauling their business starting with their flagship New York boutique. The reason? They’re being left behind as Gucci, Louis Vuitton and other luxury companies actively court a broader (i.e. less wealthy) range of buyers. Bulgari’s plan is to focus less on the fine art gems they’re known for and more on relatively affordable accessories such as watches and handbags.

We’ve discussed the dilemma of keeping the brand exclusive while also bringing in new buyers on Janus Thinking before. Patrick Davis frames it in an interesting way in the article:

Once one can afford anything – a jet, a six-figure watch, the walled spread on Anguilla – luxury transforms into something shaped by knowledge and access, not acquisitive binge. … Buying luxury is no longer about money; the currency of knowledge is more powerful. In other words, the driver of luxury markets is not price, ubiquity, inventory availability or distribution, yet that all seems to be part of Bulgari’s move.

Knowledge worth paying for is certainly a phenomenon that’s picking up steam—greater interest in things from online review sites to concierge services reveals this to be the case. Would Bulgari be smarter to keep their exclusivity and do a better job of getting the knowledge out rather than going down-market with accessories? We’ll find out after their revamp.

Patrick Davis says of this article...

Janus Thinking: Many thanks for the kind reference to the article on Unbound Edition. Seems we are thinking about many of the same things. Luxury is becoming evermore complex, and good dialogue like this certainly helps. Currently very interested in how luxury marketing is “less glamorous” than ever. See, for example, PlumTV ( http://www.plumtv.com ) and the brilliance of the easy / good / relaxed life in small communities. Luxury is part of the hyperlocal movement, at least in this example.

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