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Market Position and Sustainability
In 1997, Burberry was in need of developing a new strategic plan that would help the company gain a competitive advantage. Brand repositioning was one of its primary goals, as it sought to appeal to younger demographic and preserve the existing customers simultaneously. Finally, a decision was made regarding the company’s market position in between brands such as Polo Ralph Lauren and Armani regarding clothing and Coach and Gucci regarding accessories. In relation to the competitors, Burberry’s goal was to become a brand associated with luxury that was accessible. The aspect of functionality played a key role in repositioning Burberry’s.
Thus, Bravo addressed the issue of gaining a competitive edge by emphasizing the aspect of accessible and functional fashion. The company was eventually placed in between Ralph Lauren regarding lifestyle and Gucci regarding fashion aspects. Thus, sustainability is a crucial issue for Burberry. However difficult the task, Burberry is a brand that stands the chance of maintaining sustainability over the long term.
Even though the competition includes both fashion and lifestyle brands, Burberry’s flexibility, accessibility, and functionality, coupled with Bravo’s highly professional management is a promising combination that will allow Burberry to keep its competitive position sustainable over the years.
Nowadays, customers’ purchasing patterns are rather unpredictable, as middle-income consumers can purchase luxury brand products and high-income consumers may visit discount stores. However, the chosen brand positioning put a great deal of pressure on the company, as it required maintaining its strategic position in between brands both of lifestyle and fashion direction while promoting Burberry’s image as a luxury retail brand. Regarding advertising, changes were introduced in order to create a modern and fashion-oriented brand image. However, preserving Burberry’s heritage was also of great importance.
Bravo managed to position Burberry as a classic, as well as a modern brand, which aimed at targeting more market segments, mitigating the risk profile. On the other hand, promoting its image as a modern brand exacerbated the risk of losing the core customer segment loyal to its heritage, as they could have difficulties accepting Burberry’s new look. Burberry’s increasing popularity among young people and music stars could exacerbate these risks.
Sub-brands and Licensees
Licensees assist Burberry in manufacturing, design, and distribution of products that the company does not have enough expertise to launch independently, i.e. childrenswear, fragrances, etc. Licensees manage the mentioned aspects while the products are distributed under the company’s name. A wide-ranging distribution system was developed, that included flagship stores in Barcelona, London, and New York. Company-owned stores are aimed at presenting the products, introduce Burberry’s new vision, as well as seek new ideas for design and conceptual framework.
Burberry includes many sub-brands, such as London, Prorsum, and Thomas Burberry. Launched in 1999, The Prorsum sub-brand was developed in order to strengthen the company’s new market positioning in luxury products (“Burberry Ltd.” par. 15). It was meant to emphasize Burberry’s potential as an haute couture brand. Due to the Prorsum, the company captured the attention of the media and demonstrated its renewed vision.
It provided the much-needed publicity for new collections and market positioning. London was the basic Burberry label, while Blue and Black sub-brand were distributed exclusively in Japan and Thomas Burberry in Spain and Portugal. Cross-generational womenswear and menswear collections allowed for targeting a wide array of consumers. Moreover, as a wide pricing range was introduced in accessories collection, it allowed for attracting new customers, as well as gaining higher margins and minimizing the risks due to a lesser degree of a fashion focus.
Prior to the arrival of Rose Marie Bravo, Burberry was considered excessively conservative and lacking in strategic vision and the potential to become a luxury brand. Due to the changes implemented by Bravo’s team, the company has successfully become one of the most famous luxury brands. Nearly every aspect of the Burberry brand was subject to certain modifications, including the company’s name, logo, and packaging.
By positioning Burberry as a luxury brand that is accessible, functional, and an important high-fashion house, Bravo’s team has managed to elevate the company’s status. Updating the product line was an important step in this process. Traditional products were subject to redesign and new collections were developed. Creating a cohesive and appealing brand image was identified as one of the basic goals. The sensational success of Burberry is explained by a combination of all the mentioned factors.
Use of Check
Created in 1920, the check design has become a hallmark of Burberry. It was used virtually in every possible product category to various extents (“On Burberry” par. 6). Nearly 10% of all clothing featured check, while in accessories the percentage went up to 70% (Moon 7). However, Rose Marie Bravo believed it was necessary to modify the approach by introducing a “check undercover” strategy, where the design would not be seen instantly in products but would have to be found inside a trench, or under a collar (Moon 8).
Restraining the use of check design was a risky decision since a large part of the target market was loyal to Burberry due to its famous plaid. Bravo acknowledged these expectations that the company faced. Making the check design less prominent could have a serious impact on the company’s sustainability. It could lead to losing some of the customers that belong to the core market segment, who appreciate the brand for its heritage and conservatism.
In recent years, Burberry faced certain problems related to its famous check design. According to London, due to the lack of use of a check, the Chinese office revoked the legal protection of the design (par. 1). Burberry filed an appeal to reinstate its rights to the check design, hoping it would help strengthen the company’s position. Such problems are partly caused by the strategy of restrained use of the check.
Burberry goes to great lengths to target cross-generational male and female market segment. After the arrival of Rose Marie Bravo, the company embraced both categories of customers – those loyal to Burberry’s traditional and conservative image, as well as those looking for fashionable and trendy design. Thus, the company’s customer base includes both young and older people, thereby responding to both tendencies: contemporary and conservative.
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As a consequence of the innovative approach adopted by Bravo’s team, the non-target consumers became an important issue for Burberry. In 2003, the Burberry brand gained popularity among the music stars, especially hip-hop artists, and “urban youth” (Moon 7). Certain TV celebrities were often seen in Burberry apparel. Even though it was considered a beneficial development, it also created a range of problems regarding the collision of Burberry’s modern image with its conservative dimension.
In the long run, it could result in losing a number of core consumers. In order to respond to this popularity, it is crucial to emphasize the two-dimensional nature of the company’s brand image. To retain the core customers while continuing the development of Burberry’s modern brand image requires a balance between the two aspects. Burberry’s popularity amongst the young should not diminish the value of the company’s heritage. Such an approach would allow Burberry to secure the loyalty of both customer categories.
Moon, Youngme. 2004. Burberry. Web.
On Burberry. The Brand, the Business & Luxury Branding. n.d. Web.