Bauer Professor Awarded Best Paper During Luxury Brand Marketing Conference
Award-winning research from a Bauer College professor is examining how luxury brands like Louis Vuitton can grow their business and customer base with mass market extensions.
Marketing Professor Vanessa Patrick-Ralhan, who is also director of doctoral programs at the C. T. Bauer College of Business, recently earned the Best Paper Award at the Singapore Management University Asian Luxury Branding Conference for her work, “Managing the Flame of Desire: Can a Successful Brand Extension Dilute a Luxury Brand?,” co-authored with Bauer College alumna Dr. Sonja Prokopec.
“As the luxury industry well knows, managing a luxury brand often translates into managing the consumer dream, desire and pleasure associated with the brand,” Patrick-Ralhan said. “A lot of my research focuses on the delicate management of this desire, but my talk was about the management of desire in a very specific context — luxury brand growth via lower-end brand extensions.”
According to Patrick-Ralhan’s research, while many luxury brands introduce brand extensions that fit well with the parent brand and provide consumers with an authentic brand experience, the concern with this strategy is whether it satiates desire for the brand’s more established high-end products.
To help explain a key condition — desire specificity — under which a luxury brand can maintain its desirability despite the success of entry-level brand extensions, Patrick-Ralhan creatively uses the example of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. She argues that in the same way that Romeo’s love was fixated on Juliet, such that no other girl could matter or ever take her place, a luxury brand needs to fixate desire on a few specific high-end products in their brand portfolio so that despite the introduction of successful lower-end extensions, the desire for the brand remains invigorated and alive.
Using the example of Hermes to illustrate this, Patrick-Ralhan proposed that since consumer desire is fixated on the famed Birken or Kelly bags, the desire for Hermes cannot be diluted by a leather bracelet or a Twilly scarf.
The inaugural Asian Luxury Branding Conference, jointly led by Singapore Management University and LVMH, a French multinational luxury goods conglomerate, invites luxury industry executives and academics from across the world to create independent and high quality academic research dedicated to the luxury brand sector and the Asian market.
“The response from the luxury executives was extremely positive since they simply hadn’t considered an idea like this,” Patrick-Ralhan said. “For them, it is imperative to launch positive, authentic and successful entry-level brand extensions, but the last thing a luxury brand wants to do is to quench desire for their brand with this extension.”
By Amanda Sebesta & Jessica Navarro