Is Apple too late in recognizing the potential of luxury?

Following the extensive restructuring and re-positioning strategy which Kering Group has been implementing at its wholly owned French couture house of SAINT LAURENT PARIS – from the controversial creative and communications approach of the newly appointed Creative Director Hedi Slimane move of its Creative Office from Paris to Los Angeles, to the radical retail transformation of its retail (re-design of the retail concept and g re-location of many stores, worlwdide) the resignation, earlier this wee, of YSL CEO Paul Deneve came as no surprise.

What took many by surprise, was Deneve’s appointment at Apple Inc, in a newly created Vice President position, reporting directly to Apple CEO Tim Cook. The new of Deneve’s appointment puts an end to rumours that Apple has been seriously considering moving into the luxury sector.

But could this move already be late? Earlier this year, CPP-LUXURY.COM reported, exclusively, that rival Samsung has put together a strategic in-house luxury strategy team, since 2011, with the aim of closely staging Samsung’s forray into the luxury. Apple has been under pressure to re-think its product development approach and come up, faster, with sharper ‘differentiators’ in its products, in order to compete with rival Samsung, which has been delivering competitive products much faster, adding essential innovative features.

For both Apple and Samsung, the opportunity of venturing into luxury has a tremendous potential as a tactical awareness and communications tool, rather than a product development or marketing related one. The biggest trap for Apple and/or Samsung would be the temptation to launch a luxury smarphone / smartTv brand or model, or even a new luxury product such as a wrist portable phone to compete with traditional products such as luxury watches.

Instead, forging credible and relevant associations with the major luxury brands from the most diverse sectors (fashion, jewellery, watches, cars etc) and engaging HNWI customers- are the key success factors for such a luxury positioning ’venture’. Luxury hotels are probably among the ideal ‘battle grounds’ when it comes to positioning in the quest for providing a 360 degree interactive experience for guests, allowing them to synchronize their personal phone, tablet or laptop, to share work or past time related entertainment and social media.

Beyond the predictable ‘interaction’ of co-branding a product, both Apple and Samsung should explore how they can relate to luxury from a lifestyle perspective by enhancing customer experience.

Oliver Petcu

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