On Patek Philippe, Ralph Lauren, Steve jobs and the core business

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I recently saw again and again this amazing Steve Jobs video that every CEO should know by heart
It explains the Apple “Think Different” Brand campaign and I believe it represents the key success factor for Apple. It also explains indirectly why Nokia, market leader, failed on the same field.
First priority is to decide “what a Brand stands for” and consistently go for that. It’s not the detail, it’s the big picture.
And the emotion.

In the Fashion business too often it is forgotten that the purchase of a fashion item is emotional, not rational.
CEOs are too busy finding the way to demonstrate (weak) shot-term growth instead of propelling high, consistent and sustainable long-term growth.
In a time of economic slowdown where every single detail, organization, strategy has to be disrupted a key success factor that shouldn’t be neglected is that the Brand must express Emotions.

Patek Philippe is a luxury brand that knows this so well and that put among its 10 values the “Emotion”.

They say “Ask the owner of a Patek Philippe to talk to you about their watch, and you will hear a story of passion, love and tenderness. A Patek Philippe is far more than a means of telling the time ; it is a unique, personal object steeped in precious memories. The purchase of a Patek Philippe is often related to a personal event – a professional success, a marriage or the birth of a child – and offering it as a gift is the most eloquent expression of love or affection.”

Passion, love and tenderness. Warmth that one not usually expects from a Swiss brand.

Following “The Vintage Watches Boom” article on Business of Fashion Patek Philippe is a king of the auctions.

Patek Philippe is a successful family-owned Swiss watch company that produces very high-complication watches in-house since 1839. And it’s still rocking.
On the other side of the Ocean, Ralph Lauren is an amazing US lifestyle brand that was founded in 1967. It grew from a tiny necktie company to an international 7.4 billion US$ company with several (too many) collections, licenses and collateral businesses such as restaurants in New York and Paris.
The most recent results saw profits and net income drop.

Ralph Lauren recently appointed CEO Stefan Larsson said that “the company hasn’t focused enough on developing its core offering, described its cost structure as inefficient and said it isn’t “nimble enough in the marketplace.”

I would add another missed point which, very likely, influenced the business performance: the Dream, emotions, lifestyle and the Brand storytelling.

Ralph Lauren is a big corporation in the fashion system but it lost its luster.

The only desirability that is still existing around the brand is a for a seat at the Polo Bar in Midtown.

Of course, Mr. Larsson there is a urgent need for “simplifying the business, cutting expenses, streamlining sourcing, managing inventory more efficiently and offering better quality, more relevant products for which consumers would be willing to pay a premium” but this won’t make the difference for fueling the growth.

Ralph Lauren went through a massive dilution of the equity because of too many lines and licenses and a product development that resulted in flat collections and too low quality versus the price.
The website is just a catalogue without a storytelling and without the true Ralph Lauren appeal, glamour and wonderland feeling of the past campaigns.
As Steve Jobs cleverly pointed out, the top urgency at Ralph Lauren is to answer the question: “what does Ralph Lauren stands for?
Is it just the poor claim that we see on the website “Timeless Style”?
Certainly not. Ralph Lauren is much more than that.

Ralph Lauren is THE American Dream.
It represents relaxed success and a wealthy, powerful lifestyle.

This has to come back, Mr. Larsson. Otherwise this declaration of intents will remain a nice script on the paper.
And the USA will lose forever their Knight of Fashion.