Luxury & Fashion Biz News: August 4th, 2012 (Perfume News, Michael Kors vs. Coach, and boutique shops discover the power of the internet)
IT SMELLS LIKE THE 21ST CENTURY: Experimental concept device prints smells from daily life onto postcards — “Li Jingxuan, from the Fashion and Art Design Institute of Donghua University, invented something called a food printer in honour of her love of good food and travel. The idea is that if you are enjoying a trip away you can try local food and then use the machine to take pictures and collect its fragrance. You can then print the picture and smell onto a postcard to send to friends.”
The smell printer is still very much in the development phase, but it could single-handedly revive interest in sending cards via post. Just think of the possibilities — the smell of the air during your tropical vacation (“Wish you were here!”), the hamburgers on the grill, the flowers in your garden, the cookies you just pulled out of the oven, the Michelin-starred restaurant you visited . . .
*Speaking of restaurants and smells: Famous French Pastry Chef Creates Desserts That Taste Like Perfume — “Since many perfumes have notes of food-related fragrances, such as peach or vanilla, it wasn’t extremely difficult for Herme to interpret them into tarts. For example, the famous Rochas perfume “Femme” mixes scents like rose, peach, patchouli, moss and sandalwood. Herme then took the three dominant notes — peach, rose and spice — and created a Peach, Rose and Cumin tart.”
And just in case all those perfume-related desserts are too much for your wardrobe to handle, there’s always Diet Perfume! Yes, you read that correctly. The fragrance is called “Prends Moi”, and features notes of bergamot, mandarin and grapefruit so that you can spray and starve to your heart’s content.
XOJane states that “‘Prends Moi’ is French, which makes it automatically skinnier and more sophisticated than you”, or, as other writers have pointed out, World’s First Weight Loss Perfume Smells Like Depressing Bullshit.
“Sniff those stubborn pounds right off!”
*OTHER PERFUME NEWS: Internet scent queen Katie Puckrik partnered up with former NYTimes scent critic Chandler Burr to reveal the second fragrance in his Untitled project. The scent was the mass-market Thierry Mugler Cologne, which he dubbed “one of the most extraordinary works of olfactory art ever . . . ever!”
Skepticism at the hyperbole abounds, not least because Burr now has a job with the Museum of Arts & Design in New York, and museums are famous for cozying up to fashion brands and corporations in return for generous donations.
This museum exhibition is Louis Vuitton approved
*In Summary: When it comes to fashion brands and corporations, you’re either with them or against them.
It aint your grandmother‘s fame
About 1800 Tokyo fans waited forty hours in line to be the first to snap up the latest mass-market celebuscent. For a noisier, giddier, fan-filmed peek inside the pop-up shop, click here.
Michael Kors is slowly yet surely eating away at Coach’s lead in the affordable luxury category: Coach Drops as Kors Grabs Handbag Customers in Slowdown — “The largest U.S. maker of luxury leather goods is facing rising competition from companies, such as Michael Kors, piling into the lucrative handbag category that Coach has dominated for more than a decade . . . In addition to Kors, Coach is facing competition from Tory Burch, Kate Spade and Ralph Lauren.”
Coach reported a dramatic 60% sales growth in China for the last quarter, but it was the North American results that pulled the brand down as a whole — specifically, the fact that Coach tried to ditch couponing promotions at its North American outlet stores for a “lower prices every day” approach. Which backfired, miserably.
Coach pays the price for ditching coupons: “For all its image as a high-end brand, Coach’s factory outlets, where it sells handbags and wallets for up to 50 percent less than at its stores, generate twice as much business as its full-service stores by some estimates.”
*NOTE: A similar strategy-fail occurred at JC Penney after the company adopted a “no sale” policy in January of 2012, resulting in a near 20% drop in purchases, forcing the company to resume hosting sale events just six months later.
Generally, customers like to feel as though they’re getting a deal. When a company takes that away by eliminating annual seasonal sales or 50% off promotions, many customers lose the incentive to engage in impulse purchasing as they can’t emotionally justify those same purchases later.
Or, as Derek Thompson writes in his article, The 11 Ways That Consumers Are Hopeless at Math: “Bargains literally make us feel good about ourselves. Even the most useless junk in the world is appealing if the price feels like a steal.”
*As long as we’re talking about emotional incentives: Boutique shops embrace the internet customer, taking advantage of their small size and dedicated staff to offer unique service and hard to find items — “Owners of local boutiques stress that their personalised viewpoints give them an advantage in the crowded retail field. ‘We like to think our editorial decisions are unique for our audience,’ Joe Cole, an owner of Tenoversix, said. ‘Larger stores may carry a much wider range, but we’re more focused. We find new and unexpected things you can’t carry everywhere.’”
Another shop owner in the article mentioned that the online presence of large retail operations like Nordstrom and Amazon has created a much more savvy consumer. “It makes me feel like what I need to do is become more specialised, find smaller, newer lines, and get more things that no one else has.’”
Marketing analyst Macala Wright echoes that sentiment in her article, MR PORTER Creates Connective Consumer Experiences, explaining how the internet menswear site MrPorter.com caters to its demographic by offering a type of customer engagement that goes beyond merely serving up the latest styles: “MR PORTER is one of the strongest examples of an online luxury retailer focusing on consumer experience when it comes to marketing to affluent customers online . . . Mr. Porter develops a comprehensive strategy (and) leverages an episodic approach to it’s branded content . . . each piece slowly builds upon the story being told, giving it more meaning or showing another layer of it.”
*Relevant Aside: Where’s the beef (and beer)? Grocery store gives guys a ‘man aisle’
*LAST BUT NOT LEAST: It’s tough being me! Billionaire Italian designer Giorgio Armani says he has sacrificed his life for fashion — “‘Life, I have sacrificed life,’ he laments. ‘The life of a young man when I first started out and the life of a grown man at the age I am now. ‘It is even more so now. Even harder, which is very sad because life is all about friendships, discovering people’s personalities, falling in love, not just once or twice, but often.’”
Well, Giorgio (can I call you Giorgio?), that’s kind of part and parcel of amassing a seven billion dollar fortune. You have to make a few tough choices here and there which you may (or may not) regret once you hit 80.
But whinging about how hard it is to find true friendship and love when you’re running an unbelievably successful business certainly isn’t going to win you any public sympathy — especially, you know, when you’re stabbing your fellow Italian designers in the back as “vulgar” and “burlesque”.