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The Burberry Company/Brand
Burberry is a modernized fashion and a luxury retail company that emerged around 1856 from the United Kingdom when a twenty-year man, Thomas Burberry, opened a shop for selling drapers in an area known as Basingstoke in England (Moon, 2004).
In a short span of time, Thomas Burberry managed to invent three important retail products: a waterproof, a gabardine, and a breathable fabric that quickly penetrated into the market and emerged as the most preferred fashion for persons interested in exploring extreme atmospheres (Moon, 2004).
Since the First World War, Burberry Company has managed to become the fabric of choice after the British Army preferred them to design official coats for the army.
Throughout the years, the company expanded gradually and dominated several markets within the European world before venturing in the Asian Pacific regions and China emerged as one of the suitable destinations (Moon, 2004). Burberry introduced their checkered pattern that involved light brown, red, black, and white tartan designs that officially became the signature check trademark.
Throughout the beginning and mid-1990s, the company was facing structural and strategic control dilemmas and questions of quality were emerging, although the profitability remained high (Moon, 2004). Reformists thought that the brand of the Burberry Company was lacking modernity, as it seemed turgid and conventional, and thus appealing only to the older consumers.
Rose Marie Bravo, a native New Yorker with over 25 years working experience in the fashion and luxury industry assumed the position of Chief Executive of Burberry and immediately proposed a series of innovative strategies (Moon, 2004). It was in 1997 and towards the new millennium, when the new chief executive emerged and begun reinventing the brand and trademark of Burberry.
Bravo repositioned the brand by introducing stylish and innovative luxury lifestyle brands, which seemingly attracted the younger consumers. Burberry has now diversified to women’s apparels, men’s wear, and various accessories (Moon, 2004). Burberry brand went through a series of innovative transformations until lately in China, when the Chinese trademark office revoked its copyright on red, black, and tan designs.
Reformists believe that the modern business world is dynamic and businesses depend on the interplay of various internal and internal environmental factors to succeed. Modern businesses and marketing of retail products depend on several business laws and marketing principles for perfection and survival (Bastien & Kapferer, 2013).
One luxury theory that has been repeatedly important in describing the consumption of goods and services and its relationship with marketing of luxury products within the luxury industry is the conspicuous consumption theory.
The most likely theory to fit in the case of Burberry is the theory of conspicuous consumption that directly relates to the innovations and inventions within the management of performance of luxury stores (Bastien & Kapferer, 2013).
The theory of conspicuous consumption reveals that the trends in purchasing of products depend on the social status. Essentially, the theory postulates that the higher the class a person seems, the more luxurious one deems. Luxury is a secondary want in the classification of human necessities.
The position of this analysis is positive on the question whether revoking the signature check trademark of Burberry on its red, black, and tan designs would influence its market viability.
Based on the conspicuous consumption theory that majorly considers luxury products to be secondary products, whose purchasing depends on social class and not the direct efforts of strategic marketing of a company, the luxury marketplace for Burberry may remain intact (Bastien & Kapferer, 2013).
Luxury anti-laws oppose the common marketing strategies that companies use to enhance brand reputation and sales promotion, and this notion typically means the luxury marketplace depends on individuals’ product preferences (Bastien & Kapferer, 2013).
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Based on the luxury anti-laws that Burberry may demonstrate based on its specialization, it is clear that the effectiveness of its products is on neoclassical approach and individual preferences that influence purchasing. The idea of revoking the signature check trademark for the Burberry luxury products may, therefore, have a mild impact on its market reputation.
Before the revocation of the signature check trademark, Burberry had recorded commendable reputation high class and celebrity consumers. The assumed classy association has significantly motivated the consumption of Burberry products within other medium and lower-class individuals.
The theory of the leisure class that Veblen developed postulates that within the conspicuous consumption trend, low profile individuals tend to imitate the consumption patterns of high profile individuals (Bastien & Kapferer, 2013). Changes in the social norms that determine such emulation trends tend to change significantly depending on changes in the social fabric and regional economy.
The impact of revoking the signature check trademark on Burberry products or services as luxury products oppose most of the marketing principles and rely on the anti-laws of marketing.
Bastien and Kapferer (2013) state that market positioning, customer demands, pricing strategies, customer relations, and business repositioning are the basic business-marketing laws that seldom apply to the luxury market, since the notion is that the perceived luxury or prestige makes the service of the product sellable.
Burberry in Dubai
As aforementioned above, fashion and luxury companies such as Burberry have little reliance on the principles of marketing that aim at attracting and sustaining clientele.
Luxury and fashion companies deal with conspicuous products or credence products, and advertisers use people in the higher hierarchies as pacesetters of the consumption trend. Joy, Sherry, Venkatesh, Wang, and Chan (2012) state that, “while the dream quality is essential for a luxury product, in some instances, a long history and heritage further intensify a brand’s strength” (p. 287).
In contravention of the marketing principles and pursuing the market using the anti-laws of marketing, business positioning as a competitive advantage is insignificant to most of the luxury companies.
Joy et al. (2012) postulate that the anti-laws of marketing presume that luxury and fashion businesses tend to ignore business strategic positioning as a significant marketing strategy that modern businesses utilize. A closer look and overview of Dubai setting or positioning for Burberry brings some mixed perceptions, but anti-laws of marketing are applicable in such positioning.
High pricing power and business location and relocation are not part of the marketing rules that most leading luxury brands follow. In Dubai, Burberry positioned its retail store within the Dubai Outlet Mall (DOM) alongside several other international luxury brand companies, including Nike, Timberland, Paris Gallery, Sketchers, Adidas, Massimo, and the Versace.
Dubai Outlet Mall is the biggest and most visited shopping mall for luxury and credence products or services in Dubai, where conspicuous buyers meet and compare product prices for efficient purchasing. The strategy of positioning store seems complex in this scenario, as such positioning means that Burberry might have ignored its competitors and decided to position itself with Dubai Outlet Mall.
Contrastingly, Burberry must have considered the market positioning since most luxury and fashion companies consider positioning their stores within accessible price segments. This also means that Burberry considered targeting the pool of consumers and the luxury reputation that the mall dominated within Dubai.
Most interesting and important to understand, however, is the actual positioning of the Dubai Outlet Mall, where the Burberry luxury retail store operates. The location of the Dubai Outlet Mall is metropolitan since it is within the traditional deserted and desert-like Dubai sub-town, which is far away from the busy skyscrapers in Dubai City.
According to Bastien and Kapferer (2013), the anti-marketing rules that luxury and fashion businesses use include concentrating on the brand attractiveness, dominating the client, communicating to the untargeted consumer groups, and going against the consumerism trend.
Joy et al. (2012, p. 277) postulate that high-class consumers have anti-market stance that includes “consumer resistance, rebellion, boycotting, countercultural movements, and non-consumption traits.”
Joy et al. (2012) notes that the conspicuous consumption theory and the anti-laws of marketing assume that luxury companies dwell on the stubborn notion that most high-class consumers are independent clients, who love uniqueness and credence rather than relying on the consumption trends of the majority consumers in the society.
Within the Middle East retail business environment, most of the marketing anti-laws, such as brand market positioning, art improvement, product flaws, are more dominant than others.
Major issues that are rising from the Middle East retail business regarding marketing is that Dubai and others are emerging economies that are increasingly witnessing economic expansion that has significantly changed the social fabric of the Emiratis (Bastien & Kapferer, 2013).
In Dubai, most retail businesses have breached the anti-laws that leading luxury brands use in their marketing, since product advertising is relatively high, product pricing is low, market communication is targeting main consumers, selling is the aim of marketers.
Based on the perceptions of Bastien and Kapferer (2013) concerning consumer trends, the social fabric of the Emirati people is changing and the economic classes are reshaping and increasingly developing, with the majority of the conspicuous buyers being the youths, who are either low or middle-class individuals.
In emerging economies, business competition is high and marketing strategies are becoming necessary for product penetration and market dominance.
The issues unfolding from the above information and the question that has arisen from the case of Burberry, there are numerous real-world challenges facing Burberry and its fashion and luxury brand.
Four critical things that are emerging from the case of Burberry are consumer preference quandaries on luxury products, intellectual property rights, counterfeit regulations, and issues regarding business positioning and brand marketing.
As it is clear that the fashion and luxury industry intensively dwells under the principles of intellectual property in business, extra keenness in innovation must prevail to avoid signature check or trademark controversies (Bastien & Kapferer, 2013).
Whether issues of trademark for Burberry are lawful or it is just a malevolent practice resulting from the Chinese capital behavior against international trade, the brand of Burberry is under difficulties.
Burberry may potentially face marketplace censure and lose its reputation following its association with alleged imitation practices. According to Bastien and Kapferer (2013), quality of products associates with high status and is always a paramount consideration that conspicuous buyers look after during purchasing.
Since conspicuous buyers will always have a propensity for quality, fashionable and flashy materials, their association with products perceived as counterfeits is almost impossible (Joy et al., 2012).
Among conspicuous buyers, the urge to search for exemplary, fashionable, and luxurious products from other industries may enhance purposely to avoid any connection with Burberry that currently may probably be having a tinted Chinese market image.
Its historical positive market reputation may not be enough to maintain the skeptical consumers, so its future may depend on the efforts of the incumbent marketers who are to retain the image. Advantageously, there is enough history about the product branding of the Burberry Company and consumers with ample passed-on knowledge about the company will definitely maintain the rapport.
Marketing techniques for luxury products come into interplay here, and if at all, consumers need less to understand such techniques, Burberry shall continue to suffice. A major quandary is the market position of Burberry in Chinese market.
Consumer behavior is critical and is very important as it determines the present reputation and future survival of Burberry and its luxury marketplace in China. The reality is that conspicuous consumption is on luxury products and services where consumers tend to vary depending on their choices and purchasing power of the luxury product or service (Joy et al., 2012).
Anti-consumerism is the behavior of most conspicuous buyers who have an anti-market stance and an attitude that is completely different from other groups of consumers, who believe on a multitude of consumers to consider a product or service as reliable.
The decisions of most conspicuous consumers are independent and rely on their inner desire and the instant purchasing power to buy a product or a service (Joy et al., 2012). Burberry may survive in the market based on its specialization on luxury goods that depend on high-class consumers, who act as the pacesetters for another medium and low-class product or service buyers.
The most difficult and challenging business marketing aspect for the marketers is the behavior of consumers and product markets that keep transforming. The case of Burberry losing its signature check trademark in the Chinese market involves interplay of several regional, consumerism and marketing factors that would influence its present reputation and future survival.
The theory of conspicuous consumption and the anti-laws of marketing in the case of Burberry significantly reveal a very crucial business marketing quandary where product marketing, product pricing, consumer relationship, business positioning, product designing seem to differ between businesses dealing with retail consumer products.
Apparently, conspicuous buyers tend to buy what they feel pleased with and not what pleases a community of consumers.
Such perceptions of the conspicuous consumption theory and the business marketing anti-laws give the company the survival probability in the Chinese luxury marketplace. Most worrying is that same anti-consumerism among conspicuous consumers, may make them develop a negative attitude against Burberry alleged imitation scandals.
Based on the critical analysis of the issues unfolding before the case of revoking the signature check trademark of Burberry and the interplay that comes from the conspicuous consumption theory and the business anti-laws, this report recommends the following for Burberry fashion and luxury company.
- Although higher pricing power is the privilege that most leading luxury brands enjoy, there is an urgent need to redefine its stand about marketing. Giving enormous discounts to trusted and reliable consumers would serve them an advantage.
- The notion of protection of consumers from non-clients as the marketing anti-laws suggest, and communicating with the potential buyers as opposed to the marketing anti-laws, would significantly boost the reputation of Burberry.
- A relentless diversification approach is essential to broaden the brand diversity and constant redesigning would help to pull a pool of potential consumers willing to acquire a variety of products in a single purchase and at the perceived discounted rates.
Bastien, V., & Kapferer, N. (2013). More on Luxury Anti-Laws of Marketing. In K.
Wiedmann and N. Hennigs (Eds.), Luxury Marketing: A Challenge for Theory and Practice (pp. 21-34). New York: Springer.
Joy, A., Sherry, J., Venkatesh, A., Wang, J., & Chan, R. (2012). Fast Fashion, Sustainability, and the Ethical Appeal of Luxury Brands. Fashion Theory, 16 (3), 273-296.
Moon, Y. (2004). Burberry. Web.