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“You are not a brand!” “…I might be.”

I admit it. I am a sucker for brands. I even found myself warming to Stuart Baggs (the brand) on last year’s ‘The Apprentice’. As a teenager growing up in Devon (where luxury items are few and far between), my desire to own a Mulberry handbag was overwhelming. So much so that as soon as I graduated,  moved to London and started earning a buck, I found myself putting aside a little a month to save up for one. 2011 was the year I would finally get my hands on one – and what a feeling! I was even offered pink bubbly whilst browsing the shop, which more or less sealed the deal.

I felt great. Until, that is, I arrived at Plymouth train station after a long journey from London Paddington a few months ago, Mulberry proudly positioned in the crook of my arm, my dad exclaims;

“Is that it?! It looks just like every other you own!”

My Mulberry bubble had burst. I guess it sort of does look like every other one I own. Did I spend that much money on this item just to make myself feel good?

This has been playing on my mind, which is why I found the discussions at last week’s British Retail Consortium’s ‘Retail Symposium’ particularly of interest. Michael Ward, MD of Harrods, was able to shed some light on my, and many other consumers’, desire for luxury. He described how luxury retail involves both highly talented designers and equally talented marketers. Marketing in the luxury industry creates items we aspire to own, on people we aspire to be, to the point where supply becomes more of a problem than demand (and where waiting lists are considered a good thing). Importantly, in luxury, brand values are never overlooked. They are even reflected in the buying experience (my pink champers in the Mulberry store, for example).

In addition to Michael Ward, other speakers on the day included Philip Clarke of Tesco, Dr Steve Perry of Visa, Simon Fox of HMV and Mark Price of Waitrose, all of whom agreed that creating customer loyalty through branding that was key to their success and integral to their long-term strategy, which to me shows that nowadays it’s not only the ‘high-end’ consumer who wants to be understood and made to feel special. Creating a clear brand, and providing a service that delivers the brand’s values every time seems to be key to all retailers’ strategies.

Look at the brand Hollister. Not considered a ‘luxury’ brand, yet those students queuing outside it who probably have at least £20,000 worth of tuition fees to pay off, really need that t-shirt. Apple? Those people queuing to get the latest device aren’t the rich; it’s you and I! Whilst I agree with Michael Ward that there will always demand for luxury goods, thanks principally to very clever marketing and merchandising, it seems that there is a new face of value retailing emerging too, which can create just as much of a buzz.

Here at FreshMinds Talent, we’re mirroring the retail trend (minus the champagne, unfortunately) – delivering outstanding and quality service every time. Looks like there’s a new face to recruitment, too.

Emily Gasche is a consultant on the FreshMinds Talent Graduate Team.