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Burberry: Ideas Method Framework Case Study

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Updated: May 3rd, 2022

The British luxury fashion house Burberry used to be the traditional provider of luxury goods in clothing, shoes and accessories, fragrances and cosmetics items. The history of the firm dates back to 1865, which presupposes the reputation of the traditional brand. In many ways, the company, famous for its recognizable checked pattern, for a long time has stuck to the conservative designs and patterns, and rather simplistic motives. Those factors created the impression of ubiquity that does not correlate with the items advertised and perceived as luxurious (Ahrendts 40). Thus, this paper’s objective is to analyze the strategies used by Burberry in the rapidly developing and highly competitive industry of luxury goods from the perspective of the ideas method framework.

The definition of the main problem

With the new CEO Angela Ahrendts entering her post as the highest paid CEO in the UK, the policy of the company had to face some alternations (Petroff par.3). The ubiquity of the products was the main issue. Following this direction, the new management, including, Ahrendts and her team had to ask themselves, why the products that on the outside seemed to preserve their main features, like trenchcoats that had not changed their design for years, were not popular anymore. On the one hand, the core customer appeal was the same, but the company growth according to different sources was 2 to 5 % (Hass par.3).

The problem with universal marketing appeal is always that it aims to find customers among everyone in general and no one in particular. Such strategy can show itself as an effective one in the case of the mass-market brands but the level at which Burberry aimed to sell their products has its different special demands. As rather an expressive brand, the company is to be able to offer something that other cheaper equivalents cannot. This objective can be achieved by means of finding the unique strengths of the product.

Ideas method: strengths and improvisation

According to the framework of the ideas methods, there is a number of ways how. Some luxury and niche manufacturers give up on any mass production and make each their products unique and customized. However, for Burberry, it would mean a shortening of the production (McDowell par.1). Such a step would be drastic for the production, especially, considering the fact that the Burberry Group had had already to move some of their factories from the UK to China (Cadwalladr par.4).

However, other brands, like Louis Vuitton and Gucci did the opposite of drastic customization, and were, in some way, a role model for Ahrendts’s improvisation because they made most of their profits from their original core products. For Burberry such product is, of course, their trench coats.

Thus, the main challenge for the company was not only to revive the traditional Burberry trench coat but also to find a marketing strengths, something that other fashion houses could not offer. And the thing that always makes Burberry stand out among other fashion brands is its Britishness.

Ideas method: design, experiment, and aesthetics

In terms of design, Ahrendts made a bold move showing her ability to experiment. For the new design teams the focus on the core product, the trench coat, gave space for creative thinking. Meanwhile, the accent on the concept of being a British fashion house and the heritage of the brand, and the flavor of royalty and aristocratic past associated with it, has certainly given the reviving strengths to the brand that was previously considered somewhat out of date. It dictated the aesthetic outline for the designers. They are encouraged to experiment with different ranges of products, including new perfumes and cosmetics, but the heart of attention is always innovating the trench coat as the British classics.

Another challenge, however, is that in case of Burberry, the luxury fashion is quite a specific area of the market that puts the extreme demands towards both quality and authenticity of the products. Which is why, another additional challenge for Burberry with its recognizable patterns was the problem of cheap imitation clothes with the fake Burberry labels on them (Roberts par.6). So, the main aim of the CEO of the company and her team should be not only to “go back to roots” of the traditional brand items and patterns but also make the quality visible, so that it could not, in any case, be confused with the mass market fake analog.


In the context of the ideas method framework, the Burberry CEO Angela Ahrends has successfully employed the strong sides of the brand, its heritage and past. She and her team improvised with the ways of how to revive their core product. The result of their experiment is that the main basis of the luxury goods is their recognizable design and focus on the heritage and tradition. Which is why, even those Burberry produces a range of different products, their main focus of attention is improving, innovating and promoting their trench coats.

Given this fact, the most important recommendation concerns the aspects of strengths of the brand and its aesthetics. The recommendation is to be more consistent in their marketing policies and to make their quality visible so it cannot be confused with fake products.

Works Cited

Ahrendts, Angela. “Burberry’s CEO on Turning An Aging British Icon into a Global Luxury Brand.” Harvard Business Review 1.1 (2013): 39-42. Web.

Cadwalladr, Carole. “The hypocrisy of Burberry’s ‘Made in Britain’ appeal.” The Guardian. 2016. Web.

Hass, Nancy. “Earning Her Stripes.” The Wall Street Journal. 2010. Web.

McDowell, Colin. “Christopher Bailey: Burberry’s golden boy.” The Times. 2009. Web.

Petroff, Alanna. “Top paid CEO in U.K. is an American woman”. CNN Money. 2013. Web.

Roberts, Andrew. “Burberry Designer Bailey to Become CEO as Ahrendts Goes to Apple.” Bloomberg. 2013. Web.

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