American Marketer


Luxury brands need to focus on the good they can do

November 14, 2017

LVMH is committed to sustainability in every area of the company. Image source: LVMH


BRUSSELS - In a time of overabundance of both content and production, luxury brands need to fight to bring value and specialness to their brand to stand out.

During the session, “Toward a New Language of Luxury,” the CEO of McDonough Innovation explained that luxury products do not have to be just one of the many in the overcrowded market today. Instead they can make a difference among the overabundant culture by working to be special.

“We’re moving excessively to abundance but that doesn’t mean you can’t have special things,” said William McDonough, chief executive of McDonough Innovation, cofounder of MBDC and coauthor Cradle to Cradle. “We move from timefull mindlessness, I’m in a hurry I can’t think about it, to a mindful timelessness.”

Luxury should be special
During the session, which took place at The New York Times’ International Luxury Conference on Nov. 13, the CEO explained that luxury brands who work to be special can still hold their title in an industry that looks more towards sharing than owning and is increasingly overcrowded.

Brands that think of themselves as high end should work to make products and services that could be considered something of a family heirloom.

Sustainability and social justice is another tool luxury brands should be wielding to stand out in the crowd. However, it has to be done correctly.

Brands should not just make announcements in regards to what they are not doing that is harmful, but show consumers what they are doing that is it. There needs to be a balance of the two.

Marketers need to think about how the world can be made better because they are there.

For instance, if a brand announces it is going to reduce its carbon footprint by 20 percent by 2020, that means the brand is going to be less bad by 20 percent.

Land Rover looks to sustainability with Waste to Waves

Mr. McDonough used an analogy to explain this, saying it is similar to telling a taxi driver where you are not going. By saying, “I am not going to the airport,” this helps no one.

Brands should remove the bad but also do the good.

Luxury and sustainability
Luxury brands have been working to do better with sustainability.

For instance, German automaker Mercedes-Benz joined the onslaught of automakers who have made significant moves towards sustainability in the past month with its own manufacturing plans.

The automaker announced that it will be setting up electric vehicle production in the United States. The news follows the unveiling of another one of its electric Concept models, which it plans to roll out into production by 2020 (see more).

Also, Kering-owned fashion label Stella McCartney inked a partnership with a biotechnology company to advance and innovate the manufacturing of textiles.

Stella McCartney made a visit to Bolt Threads' San Francisco lab. Image credit: Stella McCartney

Stella McCartney will work with San Francisco-based Bolt Threads to push fashion forward in regard to exploring alternative textiles and manufacturing techniques. Bolt Threads' approach aligns with Stella McCartney’s dedication to sustainability and eco-friendly fashions by creating only fibers based on proteins found in the natural world (see more).

“Don’t tell us what you’re not going to do tell us what you’re going to do," Mr. McDonough said.