Jean-Noel Kapferer speaks at the French-Korean Chamber of Commerce and Industry
(FKCCI) luncheon at Shilla Hotel, last week. / Courtesy of FKCCI
By Cathy Rose A. Garcia
Luxury brands, from Louis Vuitton to Gucci to Chanel have entranced the whole world, including Korea. But many are wondering why Asia, in particular Korea, has not yet produced its own globally known luxury brand.
What will it take for an Asian company, especially Korean, to come up with a luxury brand that will rival the likes of Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Chanel in the future?
Jean-Noel Kapferer, luxury business expert and co-author of ``The Luxury Strategy,'' offers advice for Asian and Korean companies on how to successfully build their own luxury brand.
The first and perhaps most difficult step, Kapferer says, is the creation of a product or service that people desire.
``The assumption is you already have the money, so you must create. It can be a product like a car or refrigerator. It can be a spa or a service. But you have to create something that does not exist and would be the dream of some people,'' he said during a lecture for the French-Korean Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FKCCI) at the Shilla Hotel last week.
To create this product or service, the company needs a designer. Look at any of the top luxury brands, and you'll find star designers like Marc Jacobs, Karl Lagerfeld, Giorgio Armani, and Miuccia Prada who are perhaps the most valuable assets.
``The companies who create an exclusive brand, here the star system comes in. Stars are not the celebrities but the designers who are the rare ingredient in the whole system,'' Kapferer said.
Luxury brands are all about creating classic items.
``It starts with creation and remains a problem of creation. Luxury brands sell the classics and communicate the newness. It's about building the classics of tomorrow,'' he added.
History and heritage are also important elements for a luxury brand. Many of the European luxury brands have a long history, adding depth and timelessness to their products and services.
``Accept your heritage. What is heritage? `I am Korean.' We were talking about (Japanese fashion house) Kenzo. Kenzo is not a luxury brand; it's a fashion brand. Kenzo relates Japanese culture to people who live in New York. He doesn't ask you to wear kimono, but there is some relation to Japan. He accepted his heritage. This is very important for luxury,'' Kapferer said.
Kapferer, who is academic director for the luxury executive management program at the Seoul Luxury Business Institute (www.slbi.co.kr), pointed out that accepting Korea's heritage is crucial in creating a worldwide luxury brand.
``Korea's image is what you will make it. It is what you do that will create your future. The image of Korea will be dependent on how many directors from Korea will show that there is an interesting Korean culture in movies. People can keep changing their minds about Korea. If they see a luxury brand, it may reveal Korean culture and accelerate the change. I think people have to accept their heritage because heritage is what gives you confidence. If you hate your past, don't go into luxury, go into fashion,'' he said.