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May 30, 2008

Coach Goes on the Offensive

Jill Stoddard
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Even as U.S. consumers are trimming spending, Coach chairman and CEO Lew Frankfort ’69 is going on the offensive, according to an interview in the WSJ. Frankfort has opened nearly 30 stores in China and has plans for 50 more. He is also broadening Coach’s consumer base by introducing more high- and low-end styles.

Will this dilute the brand? Here’s what Professor Bernd Schmitt told Public Offering:

Judging Coach’s approach by the traditional standards of “Perhaps we are decreasing the overall image and prestige of the brand by making it too widely available” is not necessarily the right way of looking at it.

The concept of luxury has been changing over the years. The old “elitist” concept of luxury, which is high-priced, hand-crafted goods manufactured in Europe, is not the only concept anymore. Luxury nowadays is much more associated with lifestyle, with doing innovative things, doing something special for the consumer. And “special” can mean various things — it can mean using high-end materials or using low- and high-end materials together or bringing the brand close to where the consumer lives.

Coach’s approach makes a lot of sense to me. What Coach is saying is that while you of course need a presence in all the major cities where luxury products are bought — the world cities for example, including New York and Hong Kong and Tokyo and certain European cities — you also need to bring the luxury product to other cities where consumers live and shop, so as not to make the consumer come to you.

Comments

by Adaezi Ezinwo | May 30, 2008 at 6:11 PM

Prof. Schmitt hit the mark. How I see it is not only will broadening the consumer base fit a lifestyle, I want to stretch it and say that it creates an honest one too. The knock-off market generates millions of dollars off the "concept" of living in luxury. By increasing the number of stores to where consumers live, then the item is no longer conceptual- it's now attainable. And if it's attainable, why not make it affordable? That's not watering down a brand, that's being smart. Coach's approach will strengthen the brand and I think that it will become a trend-setter for some of the other high-end luxury brands. My question is "What took them so long?"

by Brian | May 31, 2008 at 8:04 PM

Totally disagree with Schmitt. All he's really saying is: Coach is ditching luxury-status, and becoming a lifestyle brand. Nothing wrong with lifestyle brands, it's just that 'luxury' cannot become 'commonplace lifestyle', or it ceases to be a luxury.

by Brian | May 31, 2008 at 8:09 PM

I might also add that "moderated comments" are quite lame in a Web 2.0 world. It's assumed that you'll take offensive stuff down. But to stop the conversation in order for a gatekeeper to synchronously authorize the comments is a big mistake and contrary to the culture of blogging. Just have the comments CC'd to the moderator and posted simultaneously. Use CAPTCHA to avoid spam. If you don't like a comment, take it down. That's the way every other site does it.

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