Friday, April 23, 2010

The week in review, in Calloway terms

I know, I constantly drone on about how utterly fabulous The Business of Fashion is. Nowhere else could one find subject matter so wildly appropriate to my personal and academic interests. Below are excerpts of what I consider to be the most b-school-related stories of the week. (Side note-- it's almost scary how similar these articles are to the ones listed on my syllabus, sans the industry content. Now, if only my Calloway work was within fashion, my aversion to the workload would be nonexistent.)

1. Coach launches European expansion plan
While I definitely wouldn't go so far as to actually label the company a "luxury goods" brand (especially after my case study and presentation on LVMH), it's proven that Coach Inc. is America's largest manufacturer of luxury leather handbags-- yes, "luxury" is a relative term. Sitting comfortably on the fact that it recently doubled dividends and performed well with Q3 estimates, Coach declared publicly its plan to launch nearly 15 retail locations in France over the next few years via a strategic alliance with Printemps, a domestic department store. Not stopping there, the company also announced a joint venture with Hackett Ltd., the purpose of which to open stores in target countries Portugal, Spain and the UK. As a novice in strategic management, I'd forecast European success given their recent financial gains and their ever-growing brand identity strength. While it may not be at Bottega Veneta's level in terms of luxury and/or heritage, Coach certainly offers a positioning strategy (needs-based) that fits with the certain niche it has reeled in over time, leading to-- unsurprisingly-- a sustainable competitive advantage. Well done.

2. The future of tweeting
After I had my March interviews (all in oh-so-legit corporate headquarters), I suddenly felt a strong urge to proclaim to the world how AWESOME my life was over those few days... so I opened a Twitter account. Though I haven't had time to even figure out how the application works, to say that Twitter is merely "here to stay" could be filed under "biggest understatements of the century". Now at 100 million users (and growing), the site is on a high to leverage the brand's strengths in order to generate revenue. Combining the viral marketing abilities of AdWords and pop-ups, Twitter presents itself as a much cleaner, safer pseudo-advertising platform for new ventures and startups trying to make it in the world. With services geared to track user interest and activity, Twitter is in for a different kind of success-- as long as they don't take it too far, that is.

3. Luxury waves of M&A
If I had to pick my favorite consulting firm of them all, there is no doubt that my choice points right to Bain & Co. Who doesn't love reading analyst reports on luxury brands (okay, maybe that's just me)...? Their newest findings indicate the trend of strategic partnerships and IPO's cropping up after the sector's worst financial year in history-- see ya, 2009. The spectrum goes from "lagging" brands who would fall off the chart without remorse all the way to the big conglomerates like Gucci Group whose size and scale provide an unspoken ammunition against consumer behavior experienced this year. Bain forecasted a 4% growth in worldwide luxury good spending this year, thanks to sales in the US, Europe and Asia (led by China, of course). While this is all fine and good, it looks like luxury brands are doing all they can to protect themselves against another storm of decreased interest and spending.

Don't ask me why I just wrote the most academic post ever. It (maybe) won't happen again.

Here's to you, fashion. Cheers.

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