The Blake Project, the brand consultancy behind Branding Strategy Insider, delivers interactive brand education workshops and keynote speeches designed to align marketers on essential concepts in brand management and empower them to release the full potential of the brands they manage.
18. Don’t relocate your factories
Reducing cost prices is vital in the mass consumer markets, and this often means relocating factories. Luxury management does not apply this strategy. When someone buys a luxury item, they are buying a product steeped in a culture or in a country. Having local roots increases the perceived value of the luxury item. BMW, which is successfully pursuing a luxury strategy, builds all of its automobiles in Germany – apart from the entry line: the 3 Series – and is keeping production of the Mini in the United Kingdom. Keeping production of its models and engines in Germany is at the heart of its brand identity: every BMW is an authentic product of German culture – apart from which, producing them in Germany is perfectly viable, there being no difficulty in passing any such additional costs on to the client.
In addition, BMW has a factory in the USA for its current models (3 Series), and also produces some of the 3 Series models in Thailand and elsewhere; these relocated models are no longer true luxury products, but they do serve as access products – products designed to initiate customers into the brand – like the small leather goods at Louis Vuitton: as soon as they can, every purchaser of one of these locally produced 3 Series will want to buy a ‘real’ BMW ‘made in Germany’.
Not relocating factories is as much a question of creativity as of production. When you no longer have a manufacturing workshop near you, creativity takes a nose-dive, because you lose the contact with the raw material and the way of working to be able to sublimate it into a luxury product. Once prêt-à-porter’s production facilities were moved abroad, French haute couture gradually went into decline; but, on the other hand, locating manufacture in China is going to lead to the emergence of haute couture in that country, especially as China has a history of luxury clothing – for the emperor’s court – going back several thousand years, and of producing very high-quality fabrics, silk in particular.
Excerpted in part from: The Luxury Strategy: Break The Rules of Marketing to Build Luxury Brands by JN Kapferer and V. Bastien, in partnership with Kogan Page publishing.
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