Thursday, July 29, 2010

Luxury Real Estate Branding: Maintaining Your Sterling Reputation

Managing your personal or company luxury brand, that is, managing how you are perceived by your target market over time, is mission critical. You can certainly elevate your game as a luxury real estate marketing professional by studying how the market leaders in luxury consumer brands manage or mismanage their brands. The Art of Shaving is one luxury brand that has recently made a major branding mistake, in our opinion, and has tarnished their otherwise sterling reputation.

When you think of men’s shaving, what it the first brand of disposable razor that comes to mind? Gillette is by far the market leader in this category. Their most expensive, top of the line model, the Fusion, has five blades in a single cartridge and promises the smoothest possible shave. Top of the Gillette line of disposable razors will never constitute a luxury brand because Gillette is not perceived as a luxury brand.

The Lexus is perceived as a luxury brand on par with Mercedes Benz and BMW in the minds of many consumers. Did you know that Lexus is made by Toyota? They did not call their top of the line car the “Toyota Lexus”. Instead they created a separate brand name for this relatively expensive luxury car.

Recently, we were strolling through Century City Shopping Center in Los Angeles. There we found a store called the Art of Shaving. The Art of Shaving products are the best selling men’s brand in upscale department stores. It is clearly a luxury brand based on its extensive product line including a sterling silver razor and shaving soap brush that sell for hundreds of dollars.

We were stunned to see a huge photo of the Gillette Fusion in their store window. Why were they diluting this luxury brand by aligning with Gillette? Later in Nordstroms, here in Santa Barbara, we noticed that a new package of the Art of Shaving products had a Fusion razor right on the outside of the box. You could not see the other products in the box. What were they thinking? This completely reduced the Art of Shaving to the level of a non-exclusive brand. You can buy the Fusion along with the entire Gillette line of cheaper razors in any discount drug store.

With some research we discovered that Proctor & Gamble purchased both Gillette and The Art of Shaving. The intent was obviously to use The Art of Shaving to create a perception of “class” for the razor. Instead, The Art of Shaving was rendered déclassé--reduced to having a lower class in the minds of its target market.

Managing your personal or company brand is primarily about managing perception in the realm of luxury real estate marketing. If you also want to sell properties in the lower price range you may want to consider creating a separate sub-brand so that you do not confuse your target market in both categories.

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