June 8, 2011
Brand Keys’ annual list of the top 15 most important fashion brands included more luxury brands than average retailers. The importance of a brand name nearly doubled in the past year, with 29 percent of consumers claiming the brand name of a product was important.
“When you have a sense of added value that is brought to the product by the brand itself, it becomes something that people are willing to pay for,” said Robert Passikoff, president of Brand Keys, New York.
“With luxury brands, there is not an issue of ‘let’s wait for something to be on sale’ because the fact is there is never a sale at Tiffany's,” he said.
Brand Keys is a brand and customer loyalty research firm.
High end ends high
Among the top 15 brands that consumers ranked as most important in the fashion world, more than half were luxury designers.
Armani was ranked as the third most important fashion brand, coming in behind Ralph Lauren and the consumer’s favorite sports teams.
In sixth place was Burberry, followed by Chanel in eighth place. Dior and Versace shared ninth place.
Donna Karan was the eleventh most important brand to consumers, with Marc Jacobs ranking close behind at 13.
Dolce & Gabbana and Gucci came in at 14, and Yves Saint Laurent wrapped the list at 15.
In a separate list that only included women’s answers, Tory Burch, Kate Spate and La Perla also made the list.
Brand Keys surveyed 45,000 men and women from nine United States census regions via phone, asking questions related to the value and importance of fashion brands.
The problem for luxury brands over the past few years has been a dilution in what the brand name stands for apart from being expensive.
“The decision process in virtually every category, particularly in terms of luxury goods, is that the decision process is more emotional than it is rational,” Mr. Passikoff said.
To avoid that problem and recreate the emotional connection with consumers, there are three main questions that consumers must ask themselves, according to Mr. Passikoff: What is it that drives the category? What expectations do people hold in the category? How well is the luxury brand able to meet or exceed the expectations that people hold for the category?
If a luxury brand considers these three questions, it can come up with the proper formula to bring the brand’s reputation to the top of consumers’ minds and therefore excite an emotional response.
Historical fashion houses such as Chanel and Burberry prove that experience and legend often cause an emotional reaction within the consumer.
“You don’t have to be 100 years old, but you have to believably stand for something in the mind of the consumer in terms of emotional resonance,” Mr. Passikoff said.
Uniqueness and value is often a major factor in terms of importance to consumers as well. This is proven by relatively new brands popping on the list, including Marc Jacobs.
"If a brand can build a reputation and stand for something believable in the mind of the consumers, they won’t need a red star special on their products.” Mr. Passikoff said.
Kayla Hutzler is editorial assistant on Luxury Daily, New York