Axel Dumas on Hermes’ business philosophy based on creativity and intuition rather than marketing
Descendant of the founder of the maison, Axel Dumas is today at the helm of HERMES, as the General Manager of Operations. In an interview to Corriere de la Sera, Axel Dumas spoke about the unique competitive advantage of Hermes with product development based solely on creativty and intuition, without conducting any market research.
”My mission at Hermes is to maintain the delicate balance between leather products which represent 50% of our business, and the other ”crafts” (ready to wear and accessories, tablewear, silk, watches and fragrances), throughout the different demographics and among tourist customers and locals. Our exceptional performance is driving us to expand to different markets, but without a balance we risk to destablize the brand” said Axel Dumas.
He explains that, unlike the majority of the luxury brands, Hermes does not have a marketing department, product development being solely based on the freedom of creativity. ”Twice a year, we have to choose among a vast array of products and not all end up in stores. Every Hermes store is different, each manager being able to make its selection of products according to demand”.
In recent years, luxury brands such as Prada, Vuitton or recently Zegna have launched collections dedicated to a certain region, especially Asia. At Hermes, Axel Dumas insists there are no ”product adaptations” to a specific market, the same collection being sold more or less worldwide.
When asked whether the famous Birkin bag waiting lists were a marketing tool, he refuted the idea, saying ”Every year, we recruit 150-200 artisans but it takes time to train them and we cannot accept any compromise on quality, which is what makes the product sell.(…). An Hermes product is made to last!”
Expressing his opinion on LVMH’s entry in Hermes’ capital, Axel Dumas believes the move was not a friendly one, as the owner Bernard Arnault claimed, but on the contrary. Dumas is firm about the differences between Vuitton and Hermes ”Two different business philosophies and two different approaches to production. They are more business oriented and we are more artisanal. I am not saying we are better, but we are different” added Axel Dumas.
Contemplating on differences between luxury made in France and luxury made in Italy, Axel Dumas said ”Italy and France are the real two home countries of luxury. You emphasize colour and prints…but there is no real difference in sensitivity”