MBA Luxury Brand Management

MBA Luxury Brand Management
Class of 2016-2017

Monday, May 19, 2014

Learning from the Italian Luxury Business Model

By Emily Albright, MBA in International Luxury Brand Management 2013-2014, USA

Recently, our class was fortunate enough to spend a week in Italy for the third and final round of our international field trips. We spent a total of four nights in Milan and two nights in Rome attending company conferences and enjoying the Italian culture.

Our trip began with a visit to the hills of Milan at the Ermenegildo Zegna manufacturing plant. We met with several senior members of the Zegna team and had the opportunity to experience the history and heritage of the company, see how the clothing is made, and generally enjoy the experience at Casa Zegna. The following day we were invited to a presentation by Loro Piana in the Milan headquarters, where we were greeted by the entire team and spent the morning discussing the history, current position, and future vision for the brand. That afternoon was free, and a few of us took the opportunity to visit The Last Supper in the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie, which was as impressive as The Da Vinci Code portrays!

On our third day, Armando Branchini,the Executive Director of Altagamma, presented the existing and projected status of the luxury industry, both globally and in Italy. That same evening we met with several alumni from our program working in Milan for Zegna, Yoox and Intercos who explained their journey before and after the MBA in International Luxury Brand Management at ESSEC and how they went about their job search.

After arriving in Rome the afternoon of our fourth day, we attended a conference and presentation by Fendi, which highlighted their heritage and connections with the city of Rome as well as product development, licensing, and merchandising. Our final day included a visit to the high jewellery workshop of Bulgari just outside of Rome, where we were able to see the production process. The workshop visit was followed by a company presentation by the CEO that highlighted Bulgari’s international presence and future direction with regards to digital and online.

All in all, Italy was a wonderful way to wrap up our field trips to different luxury markets!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Baselworld 2014

By Pawel Zawisza, MBA in International Luxury Brand Management student 2013-2014, Poland

It’s that time of the year again! When everyone even slightly interested in watches invades a sleepy town in Switzerland, an hour ride from Zurich, in order to discover what outrageously priced watches we will get to enjoy later on in the year! As luxury watches are a very important part in the luxury industry we couldn’t have missed it – some MBA students decided to travel to Baselworld to see what the big fuss about things you wear on your wrist is about!

Did the brands deliver? They sure did! What was striking at first was the innovative designs of some of the pavilions – a heaven for fans of visual merchandising. Omega used a number of screens to showcase their brand video, where every object was constructed using the watch movements – people on the streets, boats, cars, even the solar system – all that nicely tied to ‘Omega universe’ the brand was trying to project. Opposite Omega Breitling had a live aquarium filled with fish, or maybe just really good digital screen!

Two Japanese brands – Seiko & Citizen – decided to showcase their products in a very different manner. Seiko attracted a large crowd with a public demonstration by a master engraver, who demonstrated in front of a live audience how to engrave the back of the watch. Citizen, meanwhile, created a stunning installation by hanging thousands of watch movements high up in the ceiling, creating an illusion of stars!

But in my opinion nothing could beat what Charriol presented to its audience. A brand I didn’t know much about, Charriol was located on a jewellery floor, where the traffic was lighter than in the main watch area. Their booth, however, was something one had to experience. Starting with a smoke ‘wall’ that acted as a screen for images projected on it, to innovative use of touch screens to showcase the product – the booth was a perfect combination of fun, digital, and visual merchandising.

In terms of product, I was disappointed by lack of Richemont brands, who instead exhibited in Geneva in SIHH in January. Since Baselworld sees more than 100 000 visitors over a few days one would think the company would want such exposure. Then again, the show was a testament to the power of the Swatch group, with brands like Breguet, Omega, and Glashütte Original with booths in the prime location right in front of the main entrance… Surprisingly, LVMH brands ‘beat’ them in a race to the main door – TAG Heuer, Zenith, Bulgari and Hublot were the very first brands one saw upon entering the main hall.

It was my first visit to Baselworld, and, as someone who is interested in watches, it was surely a memorable experience – to see all the different pavilions, as well as see all the new watches. The day couldn’t have been better! See you next year, Basel!


Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Learning Outside the Classroom

By Emily Albright, MBA in International Luxury Brand Management 2013-2014, USA

Since the beginning of the year, our entire MBA class has been looking forward to the field trips to Hong Kong and Dubai. Having heard rumors from previous classes that the field trips are not just a great opportunity to network with companies and potential employers, but really a chance to enjoy our classmates and spend time together outside of the classroom, we could not wait for the adventure. Both Hong Kong and Dubai lived up to our high expectations of what the field trips would entail!

When we arrived in Hong Kong, aside from being jet lagged, we were all surprised at how cold the temperatures were (given that we had all packed clothes for slightly warmer weather). Despite the dip in climate, we all made the most of our free time. Hong Kong was filled with countless dim sum dinners, visits to the local malls, boutique shopping, too much time at the spa, and traditional Cantonese meals. Several students also took the opportunity on our free days and afternoons to visit the Tian Tan Buddha, known more widely as the Big Buddah, at Ngong Ping, Lantau Island. Many more students also took time to visit The Peak (sometimes referred to as Victoria Peak), the highest mountain on the island.

Dubai, on the other hand, was warm and sunny and the complete opposite of Paris (and Hong Kong) weather-wise! Our time there was filled with decadent breakfasts all week long (thanks to our five star hotel accommodations), visits to the local art galleries and exhibitions, discovering the Dubai Mall and Mall of the Emirates, dipping our toes in the nearby beaches, authentic Lebanese and Indian dinners, and visits to the local souks (markets). Some students also took the time to go on an authentic desert safari, which included a drive through the UAE sand dunes, a falcon show, camel rides, owl holding, an Arabic style dinner, henna tattoos, a belly dancing show, and star gazing. All in all, Dubai and Hong Kong were educational and amazing both inside and outside the classroom!

Friday, May 2, 2014

Learning about Luxury in Dubai

By Pawel Zawisza, MBA in International Luxury Brand Management student 2013-2014, Poland

Dubai; a city of great contrasts, a place where everybody can find something for themselves... as long as it’s a. sand, b. malls, c. huge construction projects serving as tourist attractions e.g. BurjKhalifa, Burj-al-Arab. But we were not here to get lost in the desert (although some people decided to embark on desert safari) – much like Hong Kong, Dubai is a large regional market, accounting for approximately 36% of all luxury spending in GCC countries. If you want to make it big in the Middle East you need to be in Dubai, which is the reason all the major luxury brands have their operations here.

Dubai is a very specific market, however, which we learned about on the first day during our conferences with Clarins & Chanel. As religion plays a huge role in the lives of the people in the region, this restricts the products one can offer – as most women from the region wear abayas, loose clothing covering their body in accordance with Muslim faith, one cannot sell a lot of ready-to-wear clothes. Accessories, leather goods, sunglasses and watches remain the preferred choice for customers. For the cosmetic market, customers prefer heavy, oriental scents, something they can apply multiple times throughout the year.

On the second day we had a chance to meet with representatives from the Chalhoub Group. As the region encourages partnerships with local companies (in some Gulf countries it becomes a requirement mandated by the law), the Chalhoub Group plays an important role as a distributor for multiple luxury brands.

On the third day we had a chance to meet with the CEO of regional branch of Van Cleef & Arpels. He was another person who presented the regional specificities of all the different countries in the region. Afterwards we met with people from the L’Oreal Group – after the short presentation we were delighted to take part in the workshop focused on presenting a new concept of retail space for perfumes.

Our last day of conferences had us visiting Christian Dior Couture, where we toured the company’s boutiques in the Dubai Mall, the largest mall in the world! Visiting a Dior store is always an event, and we were delighted to be given a tour through all the product categories!

Our last visit in Dubai took us to Armani Hotel, located in BurjKhalifa. Learning about luxury hotel operations was certainly refreshing and I’m sure everyone enjoyed it a lot!