Why are some of us willing to spend thousands of dollars on a Birkin bag and wait months to get it? Why are we behaving like kids in a candy store upon entering Barney’s in New York or Collette in Paris? What magic is it that allows marketers and brands to seduce us into becoming irrational accomplices in the construction of dreams?
Over the past four years, the blog editors JP Kuehlwein and Wolfgang Schaefer have studied what drives the success of prestige brands and premium priced brands across industries. They dug into how Cirque Du Soleil or Grey Goose succeed despite foregoing the conventions of their categories like showing life animals or having an eastern/cold country provenance. They found why and how Nespresso’s approach to marketing has many things in common with that of LaMer or MINI (the new and old). How Freitag is a gritty, eco-industrial version of Hermes. And they got closer to an answer as to why some people pay a small fortune for niche Renova toilet paper or Aesop detergent even though they don’t seem to have any functional advantage over much cheaper supermarket alternatives – and have not even been ‘seen on TV’.
Wolfgang and JP studied over a hundred brands in the premium space and interviewed as many analysts and practitioners in the field, gathering a wide array of psycho-social and cultural insights. They extracted what looks like a common set of underlying success drivers that even the experts interviewed lauded for its precision and completeness. Having been asked many times to share, they decided to start capture their knowledge and case study illustrations in this blog in 2012.
The blog is meant to be a stimulating dive into the enticing world of premium and prestige brands – and our collective obsession with them. JP and Wolfgang seek to eschew marketing jargon in favor of a conversational, essayist language and visually attractive form – educational yet also entertaining for marketing experts as much as all the rest of us brand connoisseurs.
… and now you can order the book “Rethinking Prestige Branding – Secrets of The Ueber-Brands” at Amazon and other fine book retailers across the globe.
Wolfgang Schaefer is Chief Strategy Officer at a boutique brand building and advertising agency with offices in Europe, the US and Asia. JP Kuehlwein is EVP of a premium hair salon and retail hair care brand.
Together, they have a half century of global experience in all aspects of consumer goods marketing and business model creation: From developing global category strategy to executing the launch of brands in-market. They have consulted and managed brands in categories as diverse as food, fashion, accessories, beauty, detergents, hotels, shampoos, diapers as well as NGOs and retailers all over the world.
Wolfgang lives and operates out of Berlin and JP out of New York. In their spare time, they still can’t let go, writing this blog, interviewing for the podcast, hatching the next book, consulting on how to create brand legends or enjoying consuming them. You can reach then at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Very intriguing – would love to find out what it takes to establish a premium priced brand with functional attributes that are seemingly the same compared to much lower competitors. What is driving consumers to pay BIG premiums AND be happy about it?
If you cannot carve out a relevant, noticeable, preferred and sustained functional product benefit (and which brand can really do that for long?), then you better be preferred emotionally (too). Then, being ‘liked’ involves having meaning to the buyer beyond the utilitarian purpose of the brand. That meaning can come from shared values (eg. Whole Foods), a desire to look like you have certain values and/or a style (the Dunhill gentleman) and/or philosophy (look at our post on Aesop) and/or level of sophistication (Maison Bonnet) and/or sex appeal (D&G) and so on… All those factors we might call ‘irrational’ – but those are the drivers of choices. After all, a Louis Vuitton suitcase is not practical, sturdy or easy to maintain. Nor is a Ferrari. And don’t tell me you can actually taste the difference between Grey Goose and Smirnoff. And even if you can, taste was not the primary reason why you chose it. – Just admit it ;-)