I am expecting that consumers are going to continue and exert power and influence. The idea of radical transparency is something that few brands are taking advantage of now, and most brands fight it. I'd say that in 10 years the best brands won't be those with the best stories, sort of made up fictional stories, but those that will give an accurate and real time picture of what they are doing in the interest of the consumer, in any given time.
As brands become larger, the need to reach greater numbers of customers makes them less edgy and dilutes their unique positioning as they try to please everyone. It is therefore not surprising to find such brands go into a few years of decline before they are able to reinvent themselves.
There comes a point when you realize that these things, these brands, aren't "enough." Having more or better or best doesn't provide you with a lasting sense of having more or being better or being best. It's a rather fleeting experience, this romantic attachment to brands, and I find that if I'm not careful, the search for having more or better or best is a precarious journey into the infinite. When you depend on finite objects-or brands-to provide you with a long-term sense of self or love or pride or achievement, you start yourself out on a path with no end. No object, no product, and no brand can provide you with ultimate, infinite satisfaction.
The biggest thing I'm seeing - and I have to be careful what I say here - is that people are tired of the old guard and the familiar brands. They're looking for more individuality and creativity, and that's coming out of this whole new wave of younger brands: Thom Browne, Michael Bastian, Robert Geller, myself.
There's an adage that is an apt description of the new dynamic at work between brands and consumers connected through social media: People support what they help to build. But now that many brands are launching community-driven cause marketing campaigns, the challenge becomes what to do next?
I run all the brands like cousins. You want your cousins to do well, but you want to do better. All of our brands want to win, but we certainly want to fight fair and coordinate as much as we can behind the scenes. But to the consumer, we want to offer the broadest, most competitive set of products that we can.
We always talk about how you have to build a brand from the inside out, not the outside in. Brands are not wrappers. Brands are based on the values of the founders, and then they spread to the people who work for the company, and then that psychological contract is spread to the customer.
All brands, whether high-ticket luxury ones such as Cartier or Rolls-Royce or 'masstige' ones with luxe-y overtones but altogether more affordable, all want to grow. Even brands that may have started in a modestly niche design and lifestyle fashion can find themselves under pressure to go global or to sell out at the top.
We'll continue to see more and more brands integrate social causes, charitable components and environmental issues as underlying themes to their campaigns and messaging. Humans connect with humans after all, and brands are using this as a point of connection to engage with their audience, especially charity-minded Generation Y.
Amy Jo Martin
At LVMH, we have amazing heritage brands, and we put interesting talents in those brands, sometimes very young, like we did at Givenchy with Riccardo Tisci at the time, or like we just did with J.W. Anderson at Loewe, but also talents that are already further along in their careers, like Raf Simons at Christian Dior or Nicolas at Vuitton.
Perhaps the most powerful lesson other brands can learn from Nike is the need to act in accordance with the reality of the world we live in. In a mutually dependant, intimately connected global community facing several major crises, brands need to operate with an expanded definition of self-interest that includes the greater good.
Brand relationships have become a lot more personal. People consider brands almost like personal friends. They have a fairly personal relationship with the brands they buy on a regular basis. If one of your friends upsets you, or does something you are not happy about, you might tolerate it for a little while. But there is sort of an elastic limit to that.
The most potentially transformative impact of social media is its ability to encourage brands to marry profit and purpose. The reason brands participate is that such outreach earns those companies social currency enabling them to start or participate in conversations that connect them to consumers in meaningful ways.
Brands' use of social media is not a matter of yes or no. It is simply a matter of how and when. The next generation of consumers will expect their brands to always be available, providing interactive experiences and bringing value to our lives by taking advantage of social media tools in their marketing communications
The brand is lying about something, or at least misrepresenting it. When I read a bottle of shampoo or moisturizer or other beauty product, I always perceive a dark subtext. The words haunt me. It comes across as humorous to the reader/audience, but in fact the words really do make me a little bit queasy. Nothing is as easy or natural as consumer brands want us to think - no problem is as resolvable. Your hair will fall out, eventually. Yet we do have these brands, and we line our shelves with them. There's an inherent irony.
Local brands evoke national pride, are seen as less profit-oriented, and are often formed on deep local insights. But quality worries persist, innovation is questioned, the information can be woefully inadequate, they are sometimes seen to be opaque and their advertising is clearly recognised as not being of a global standard. For local brands, quality, innovation and transparency are critical hills to climb.
Your everyday supermarket now carries roughly 40, 000 items - twice as many as a decade ago. There are so many products, so many brands and sub-species of those brands, that no consumer is safe from the bombardment of choice overload. A huge variety of product offering doesn't aid consumers. It is insanity. From the vast array of athletic shoes to bagels to portable CD players to bottled water, there quickly becomes a point at which mega-choices, like mega-information, do not serve the consumer; they abuse him.
I see a lot of people dressing very similarly, and I see brands being cool because of their name and because of who wears the brands, but that's always been the case. That's kind of the history of fashion. You know, celebrities wear their clothes and people think these celebrities are cool, and then the clothes become valuable. It gives clothes a commodity factor once a certain individual starts wearing that brand. But do I think there's something wrong? I think what's wrong with the fashion world, particularly men's fashion, is the lack of creativity behind it.