Luxury brands: passion for things well done.
It is usually said that we come to this world to fulfill three missions: plant a tree, have a child and write a book. Juan Hernández Aguirán has managed to achieve at least one of these goals. This ESADE graduate is only 28 years old, but he already managed to write and self-publish the book "El Marketing del nuevo lujo" - "New luxury marketing" .
This small but content-rich book surprises due to its clarity, its writing style and, above all, the valuable lessons it teaches on the luxury sector. And this sector, as we will see, has a special conception of what it means to create and manage a brand.
What does luxury mean for you?
Quoting Coco Chanel: luxury does not lie in wealth or ornamentation, but in the absence of vulgarity. In order to be part of luxury, a product or an experience must satisfy certain conditions but, above all and independently of its price, it must provide a great meaning with which to strongly connect to its fans (consumers).
Why talk about "new luxury"?
Up until a few decades ago, superior experience consumption was only available to a very small group of people with high purchasing power. But more recently, the middle class has increased not only its purchasing power, but also its sophistication. Many corporations have become aware of this fact and have created what is known as Accessible Luxury: products and services of a high quality and style, but not forbiddingly expensive.
What is the secret to the longevity of luxury brands?
Coherence (they must say no every day to business opportunities which would be profitable but which would erode its brand positioning in the middle- or long-term), respect for tradition and constant adaptation to sociological changes and lifestyles, in order to continue being meaningful to its fans.
How has the luxury market evolved in Spain?
In Spain we can be proud of the fact that we have great and highly valued designers, high quality craftwork, an avant-garde cuisine, etc. The problem was that until recently Spanish corporations worked independently, but now they are beginning to create associations to align luxury brand strategies, something which has been done for decades in France and which will help to make the Spain Brand stronger in the luxury market.
Do we have Spanish ambassador brands in the luxury market?
Possible the best acknowledged Spanish luxury brand is Loewe. The problem is that there are many well-known brands throughout the world, but people do not associate them with Spain, or they are even unaware of the fact that they are Spanish. In this sense, chefs like Ferran Adrià, José Andrés, etc., are becoming great ambassadors of the more and more valued Spanish cuisine.
Market research, marketing consultancy... do they vulgarize products? Do they make them become just more of the same old thing?
I do not thing that market research per se is to blame for this, for as a tool it offers very valuable information. The problem is that there are many things which it does not reflect or which one must know how to interpret, and for that it is essential to have a good knowledge, not just of our fan niche, but also a sociological one in general, in order to be able to adapt to future changes in the market.
How does one achieve the superior emotional value which these brands display?
If there is a word which is repeated among the sector professionals, that is PASSION; these brands have been working for decades to offer superior products and experiences and they have managed to transmit this passion to their fans. They have managed to create a strong emotional bond which few corporations can boast about nowadays.
Is it now necessary to invent a new category in order to create a luxury brand, or can one compete with the existing ones?
The most important thing is to have passion, for, at the business level, a luxury brand, independently of its category, needs a lot of time and investment to begin to work and offer profits. Be it in an existing category or in a new one, these brands must be able to communicate, in a real way, the reasons which make them so exclusive and be scrupulously coherent so as not to lose that image (which is extremely sensitive to wrong decisions).
Talk to us a bit about stores as a brand experience in the sector. What is special there?
Here is where the brands, independently of their category, can learn the most valuable strategies. Luxury stores are characterised by an exquisite treatment, a polite personnel with good appearance (which transmits perfectly the brand image) a deep knowledge of its products and services (in order to be able to explain the sophistication which makes their price so exclusive) and everything which is necessary to create an exclusive experience, one which is tanglibly superior to the one we can find in traditional stores.
Is the luxury market a laboratory for what will happen later in the mass market?
As luxury is moved by the passion to create superior experiences and products, no doubt many of its innovations end up adapting to the mass market. However, we cannot consider the Mass Consumption brands as mere copies, since many of them have developed a valuable ability to innovate and differentiate itself.
Thank you for your time, Juan, and I hope the future will reward you with the success you deserve.