MBA Luxury Brand Management

MBA Luxury Brand Management
Class of 2016-2017

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Boutique Internship at Dior

By Maya Kvaratskhelia, MBA in International Luxury Brand Management 2013-2014, Georiga/Russia

The MBA in International Luxury Brand Management provides every student with a chance to do a one week boutique internship to get a real life, hands-on experience in luxury brand retail. At least two months before the internship begins, the Director of Career Counseling conducts a one-to-one interview with each student to determine their sphere of interest within the luxury industry. Afterwards, the students' field of interest is matched as accurately as possible with the brand that operates its core business activities in that field. In my case, since I am interested in fashion and accessories, I was placed in a luxury brand whose core activities are in fashion & accessories.

Over the past few years, key luxury market players have immensely expanded their business activities throughout the world, either through directly operated stores or through partnerships with local retailers. The biggest luxury brands try to expand through directly operated stores whenever possible, as this allows them to ensure the consistency of the brand’s image across the retail network and to maintain high quality customer service. Despite the high fixed costs associated with direct operations, the profitability increases over a longer time period.

It’s no surprise that retail plays a significant role in a brand’s success. Retail is where direct contact with the customer takes place, which allows the customer to have a sensory experience in the brand’s universe. It allows the brand to obtain a profound understanding of the client and to formulate strategies aligned with the client’s reality. The key role of retail has been repeatedly emphasized throughout our classes and conferences we have attended, so I was really curious to experience the retail work environment first hand.

Ten MBA Luxe students, including myself, had an opportunity to do an internship at Dior. We had one day of training at Dior Academy to learn about the brand, the founder, and the inspirational story behind every product creation. Afterwards, each of us was placed in a different store to work in different product category departments. Dior is more than a fashion brand; its diversified product portfolio makes it a lifestyle brand offering customers a 360° brand experience through apparel, accessories, shoes, high jewelry & watches, Dior Homme, and Baby Dior collections.

I was placed in the leather goods & accessories department of the Galeries Lafayette boutique. The first day of my internship was very exciting and intense at the same time, as I had never worked in a luxury retail store before and had to absorb a great deal of information quickly and effectively. My day started with a tour around the apparel and high jewelry & watches, and ended with the accessories department. I had the pleasure of working with the professional team of Dior, who were extremely open and helpful in explaining and teaching me different aspects of their daily tasks. During the first two days I basically observed and shadowed the sales advisers as they served clients throughout the day. As the Galeries Lafayette is a tourist destination, the clientele of the Dior boutique is extremely diverse. This diversity and high foot traffic make for a fast-paced work environment that is both demanding and exciting. I had a chance to observe customer behavior of different nationalities including Russians, French, Chinese, Arab countries, and so on.

During that week, I became aware of how important it is to have a feel for the product to better serve the client. Developing a feel for the product means knowing the details of the different materials used in its creation in order to describe its benefits and functionality, knowing the history and inspiration behind every piece to spark the “dream factor,” knowing the length and depth of the assortment in stock to respond quickly to customer requests and to know what to offer, learning the prices of every single product by heart to reduce response time, etc. I tackled almost every single aspect of daily operations including: opening and closing the store, arranging the stock, processing payments, dealing with after-sales, learning the art of packaging, and even cleaning the product display cases several times per day.

Although one week is quite short, this internship really enabled me to have a better idea of what the real retail workplace is like and what I want to do in the future. I think knowing the client is very important and the best way to enhance your knowledge about them is through direct interaction. My week-long internship was full of activity and I couldn’t have wished for a better opportunity than working at the Dior boutique in Galeries Lafayette.