Lacoste is a luxury brand that has mostly relies on online distribution channels for its marketing and public relations exercises. Through this online strategy, Lacoste is able to maintain its position as a luxury brand. Direct channel marketing in Lacoste’s case involves use of various tennis and golf personalities, a strategy that has been a trademark of the brand since its inception.
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However, the brand ventures into online marketing in the late 1990s in a bid to remain a relevant trendsetting brand. Although some of the brand’s merchandise can be found in departmental stores, its most exclusive items are only available to consumers through its website. As a luxury brand, Lacoste enjoys both advantages and disadvantages of direct channel marketing.
One advantage of direct channel marketing is that it helps maintain the status of Lacoste as a luxury brand. All potential customers are aware of where they can access the luxury brand’s items. Use of retailers makes the brand more visible and easily accessible but it also has the potential to make it a household name thereby eliminating its exclusivity.
Direct channel marketing also helps Lacoste to avoid high instances of bootlegging that are often associated with other luxury brands. It is common knowledge that some luxury brands such as ‘Dolce N Gabana’, Chanel, and Gucci among others are often the target of counterfeiters.
The reason for this vulnerability is that these are easily accessible through the ordinary retail channels. Therefore, customers are not able to verify the manufacturer’s signature distribution channels when they are purchasing these items. On the other hand, Lacoste’s most exclusive and pricy items are often sold through its website and customers are assured of the brand’s quality when they make purchases through this channel.
Direct channels also give Lacoste a global reach at a low cost. For instance, 90% of Lacoste’s total purchases are from countries outside France. In addition, the company has presence in over 114 countries around the world (Lacoste, 2015). Direct channel marketing enables a company to “connect consumers with its product, especially via a web-based channel….most importantly, web-based selling has low overhead and gives a product a potentially global reach (Kapferer, 2012).
In this day and age, direct channel distribution comes with a convenience that is better than that of indirect channels. Consequently, a direct channel means that consumers can be able to access Lacoste’s product anytime of the day and also have them delivered to their doorsteps. As a luxury product, Lacoste also aims to give its customer’s ‘luxurious’ service through its online channels. Indirect channels deny Lacoste control over the level of service that is offered to its customers.
One disadvantage of using direct channels is that it denies Lacoste’s products a verifiable geographical reach. For instance, not all global consumers are conversant with online shopping. Consequently, Lacoste cannot realize its full market share through its current online forums. Lacoste’s direct channel strategies also mean that the company lacks the services of specialists in various fields (Nicolau, 2013).
The company’s main goal is to achieve a certain level of quality in all its products in line with its croc logo. However, it is apparent that the company neglects other aspects of business such as marketing and web-design. For example, a quick glance at Lacoste’s website does not reflect the luxury aspect of the brand. Other similar luxury brands have done a better job in marketing and web design. Indirect channels can grant Lacoste access to various experts in fields such as marketing and branding.
Luxury brands should only sell their brands online because their most prized asset is their brand names. Consequently, the ability to maintain brand integrity is a main priority for most brands. Online avenues eliminate the chances of proliferation of counterfeited products and increase consumers’ level of confidence. For example, if a certain product is never stocked in retail outlets, this would reduce the value of other similar fake products.
Another reason why it is prudent to market luxury products online is that this avenue gives luxury products a global reach (Nicolau, 2013). In the information age, most luxury products are recognizable throughout the world. However, their access in the global front might be limited by the manufacturers’ choice of marketing channels. Marketing luxury products online does not reduce their ‘luxurious’ aspect of a certain product as it was earlier assumed.
Some of the websites that specialize in luxury products utilize modern information-technology tools such as high-resolution imagery to maintain a high level of luxurious appeal. On the other hand, the retail market environment features several aspiring luxury brands. Consequently, a legitimate online luxury brand has an obvious advantage because it means the item has achieved a certain level of legitimacy.
A luxury brand that sells products through online channels also means that manufacturers have an avenue of tracking consumer response and feedback. For example, some online shops allow users to post pictures of themselves sporting the items that they purchased. This avenue can also act as additional advertising in for a luxury brand.
Kapferer, N. (2012). The luxury strategy: break the rules of marketing to build luxury brands. New York: Kogan Page Publishers.
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Lacoste. (2015, November 15). Lacoste: What’s new. Retrieved from https://global.lacoste.com/en/lacoste/
Nicolau, L. (2013). Direct versus indirect channels: Differentiated loss aversion in a high-involvement, non-frequently purchased hedonic product. European Journal of Marketing, 47(2), 260-278.