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Former Marketing Director at Richemont, IWC Schaffhausen

IP Interview
Published on April 20, 2020

Why is this interview interesting?

  • Why heritage is so important to building credibility and trust with consumers
  • How new brands can enter the luxury field
Executive Bio

Jens Fabian Herdieckerhoff

Former Marketing Director at Richemont, IWC Schaffhausen

Fabian has over 20 years experience marketing luxury watches. He started his career as a product manager in Germany for Cartier before moving to Richemont when the company purchased luxury watchmaker IWC in 2001. At Richemont, Fabian was the Marketing Director for IWC where he was responsible for the international marketing strategy over 7 years. He then spent 2 years running Burberry Watches at the Fossil Group and is now a luxury market consultant.

Interview Transcript

More broadly, looking at your experience in building luxury brands. How do you think about what defines luxury and the mystery or elevation around building a luxury brand?

I think I said that earlier. The key is the credibility and the authenticity. You have to have something that stands out to make it. Every year, there are thousands of people that think they want to launch a luxury brand. It’s very hard because the barriers to entry are very high and the investments you need to build something from scratch are huge. You need a really solid foundation.

Ideally, there’s some sort of heritage. Even if the heritage has been hidden away or the brand has been out of production for many years, it doesn’t really matter, as long as there’s a true heritage, a true story behind it.

When LVMH relaunched the Moynat luxury brand, which is the high-end travel goods. That company had not produced anything for I think about 100 years. Before that, they were at the same level as Louis Vuitton and Goyard. LVMH said, okay, there is a heritage there. We have archives. We have all designs. We have history. We can create that. We can be honest about the fact that we’ve been off the market for a year, but we have something really valuable there. This value of this heritage, you cannot just create. If you want to create a brand without any heritage because you have a brilliant idea, then that’s possible, too, but the idea has to be brilliant. It has to really stand out from the rest. You need a lot of investment to get the message out. All successes of brands that have come basically out of a brilliant idea in the luxury sphere in the past few years, then taken a lot of investment to build a brand.

What is your favorite example of a new brand that’s come to market in the luxury space that has done that?

For example, you can take Jimmy Choo in a different world, that was founded by Tamara Mellon about 20 years ago. Jimmy Choo himself was a watchmaker based in Belgravia who had a very small shop, was making bespoke shoes for high-end clientele. Mrs. Mellon decided, wow, these shoes are fantastic. Let’s make this into a brand. How did she do it? Well, that success of the brand was really built on testimonials and public relations. Without having the budgets to print large ads or whatever, she just gave away brilliant shoes to celebrities that would wear them on the red carpet. She did that to a huge extent. Then the fashion press obviously caught up, if at the Oscars suddenly five of the top actors wear a brand with an unusual name, people start taking note. Out of this brilliant idea of just giving away the product to the right people, she built a global luxury brand. Which is definitely rare.

It’s been in that network of people that can be a marketing platform for you in a way, for those new brands?

Right. The founder of the brand was part of that world anyway. She would have perfect access to all sorts of celebrities. It became the shoe to wear at the time. That’s how it became a hot item without any advertising. Then later on of course, when the company reached a certain size, the cashflow was there to use all of the other marketing channels. At the end of the day, the success of the brand was built on testimonials and giving away the product to the right people.

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