Understanding The Power Of Luxury’s Iconic Products
The debate on luxury products should not be so much about logos or no logos or about carryover versus seasonal products but about what’s iconic and sticks and what doesn’t
The pandemic has increased the focus on bigger brands, and within them, iconic products
As the world reopens hopefully later this year, it is likely that bestsellers will continue to outperform as the luxury sector remains driven by first-time purchasers
When I worked at Cartier in marketing, friends of mine would ask me “is there really an important marketing department there as they seem to be selling the same products.” Today, still, I am being asked how the brand can be so successful while seemingly selling the same product ranges for decades. Well, maybe that’s precisely the point. Opening the New York Times style section last Sunday, you saw a sober Cartier ad with packshots of the Just Un Clou, Trinity, and Love jewelry ranges, as well as the Ballon Bleu, Tank, Panthère and Santos watch ranges. All but two were already resounding successes 15 years ago. Of course, some have benefited from slight design adjustments, but not all.
Last summer, Cartier relaunched the Pasha watch range, which again, was very successful. Newcomers to the brand likely thought it was incredibly slick and innovative — a rare round watch for the brand. Older nostalgic folks like me were also enthused to see this model from the 80s get a facelift. Cartier’s CEO explained the fascination of historic icons by citing writer Italo Calvino on an essay on why read the classics: “The first time we encounter a classic is not really a first time. It feels familiar because it was part of our collective imagination beforehand. We know the hero and the story, we have heard the melody somewhere, even if we don’t remember when. Conversely, when we rediscover it the second time, it is a new first time.”
As Cartier icons go, so goes the 2.55 leather bag and the little black dress at Chanel, the bar suit from Dior, the Burberry trench, the Hermès Birkin bag, the Gucci loafers or Bamboo bags and so much more.
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