We have an interesting topic today, the appearance of very high-end luxury goods (yes, some things are more “luxurious” than others) on discount sites. Today’s Luxury Daily carries an interesting story about merchandise from Hermès, Cartier and Botkier being sold on discounter Bluefly’s site.
Below we see two Cartier scarves from Bluefly, “retail value $220, Bluefly price $154, you save 30%!”
This is not an entirely new phenomenon. In fact, a June 2009 post in this very space was titled “Tiffany & Cartier for Sale at…Bluefly?!” In most instances, these were limited-time and/or “invitation only’ events; the ad seen below is for one such promotion offering Cartier watches. But from what we can gather, it seems this may become a standard practice moving forward.
Hermès has been offered previously at Bluefly, and just last week it was sold at Rue Lala. Your trusty scribe finds the practice disconcerting, especially following month after month after month of record-breaking sales and profits for Hermès, landing this one in the “Help Me Understand” category. Why do it? Are you introducing products to customers not previously exposed to the brand? If so, are they really customers you want to acquire?
Now, will you be able to purchase the custom scarf sold only at the remodeled flagship store on Bluefly (below)? Of course not.
“… if consumers notice that a brand is lowering its standards so that more people can buy it, it could take away from the brand’s prestige.”
How would you prefer your image be perceived? Oozing the understated elegance and refined vision showcased in the Madison Avenue store?
Or as a bargain hawker at Bluefly?
The argument that prices for these goods are so high it can’t possibly hurt the brand are wrong. From Rachel Lamb’s story:
““You can’t really go back to charging full price once you have a discount,” Ms. Ries said. “Sometimes, it’s as addictive for the company as much as for the consumer.”
Is this up there with discovering our Orrefors crystal or Movado watch at CostCo? Hardly. It far transcends that little
hissy fit disturbance, for we rank Cartier and Hermès in the upper tier of the luxury scale. This seems like a bad idea all around.
One more tidbit today, also about a storied company, Haspel, the go-to brand for seersucker.
“…wore his Haspel suit into the Atlantic Ocean during a trade show conference. He then walked up onto the beach, took off his clothes (wearing his boxers, thank goodness), and hung up his suit to dry. Later that evening, he took that same suit, put it on again, and wore it to the evening’s party. Needless to say, he made his point.”
The other fascinating part of the post involved this:
We had nary a clue Haspel did madras. That is news we are happy to hear!
G’bye until next time.