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US versus European Brand Building

Former Chief Marketing Officer at Bottega Veneta, Kering

IP Interview
Published on May 11, 2020

Why is this interview interesting?

  • Comparison of how Europeans approach building luxury brands versus American companies
Executive Bio

Lisa Pomerantz

Former Chief Marketing Officer at Bottega Veneta, Kering

Lisa is a luxury goods marketing veteran and has worked at a handful of the world’s most valuable brands. Lisa is the former CMO Bottega Veneta, the Italian brand with €1.1bn in revenue and owned by Kering, where she has spent a total of 10 years leading marketing during two spells working at the brand. Previously, Lisa was SVP, Global Communications and Marketing at Michael Kors for 7 years after spending 6 years leading marketing for CELINE, the luxury leather goods brand owned by LVMH, in North America.

Interview Transcript

How do the European brand houses roll out those entry products to recruit consumers? It seems, with the US brands, to get into the mass market or to grow a business, to a large extent, you have to go down that price point ticket, to capture the mass consumer. How do the brands, the Louis Vuitton, Bottega, the European brands, get that entry point or recruit that younger customer, into the brand?

Very carefully, very thoughtfully. Firstly, starting with the brand promise and what is authentic. Looking at the landscape and where there is opportunity. That includes, what are the styles, what are people looking for? What seems to be trending? Most recently, it’s been the smaller, cross-body bag. When everyone started to have a cell phone in their hand, all of a sudden, hands free became critical. This cross-body bag was everywhere, where you could have a way to put the bag across your body. This then led to a smaller, almost like a wallet on a chain idea, which then allowed the luxury players to have an entry price point. What I appreciate is that they don’t come at it from, how can we make more money; let’s just make up this thing and put it out there. They’re very thoughtful about, what’s going in today’s world that we could participate in, that would allow us to do this, but only in the most authentic way, where it’s believable that it’s coming from us. We’re not going to start making yoga mats now, because that’s another thing we could stick our logo on.

I think that there has always been the licensed products and a lot of them are now in-house. Eyewear, fragrance, lipstick, that’s obviously been around for a long time and it’s a great way to start to engage a younger consumer and have them enter into the brand world. The story, the promise of that brand. From there, ideally, you move them up the purchasing frequency and price point. But I also look that a Louis Vuitton, for example, who is selling a lower price point, in a leather good product, through watching and learning and seeing how consumers are evolving and what end use do they need? What are they looking for? All of a sudden, it became the tech toys, so all of the tech accessories, from the phone case with the wallet, where you could put your credit cards, with a chain that comes out, so you can loop it across. Just really keeping their ear to the ground and being globally, constantly, looking at consumer behavior and how you react. Having a very organized supply chain vertical, where you can quickly bring product to market. That is also important.

When they market these things, it’s very much under the guise of the overarching brand DNA. It’s not a product that’s pulled out, per se, and marketed to you. It’s very subtle in the way they always include it under the umbrella of the bigger brand promise. Whereas, I would say, the Americans are far more likely to focus specifically on that item and really drive it home until they’ve sold the numbers. One could argue, well, the money that’s made could be the same and maybe it’s faster here or slower there. But I always question, then, how are you denigrating the brand? If anything, that your most valuable asset is your brand – brand story, brand promise – and your customer. If, in any way, shape or form, you are eroding the authenticity and the credibility, long term, you are going to have a problem.

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