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I was recently interviewed by a wonderful student reporter from the University of Florida, whose thought provoking questions were so relevant to the place we’re at as consumers, that I just had to share with you a few snippets from the interview (to read the full interview you have to read the University of Florida’s Magazine)
Of Bridge Lines, Mass Market, and Luxury Brands
Some would say the “middle class,” like price-savvy shoppers such as your readers, are the “bread and butter” for designers. Why do you think it is important (or not important) to create
products, like the Marc by Marc Jacobs line, to better target this group?
Bridge Lines are important from both a financial and a brand building perspective. The financial reality is that the bridge, especially mass market bridge lines at stores like Target or outlets like HSN, can make the bulk of an apparel companies revenues. The profit margins (total cost of producing an item- including taxes, marketing, etc divided by the price of the item sells for) is significantly higher on a Issac Mizrahi for Target sweater than a sweater from his couture line at a high end department store like Bergdorf. This of course assumes that the brand spends more (craftmanship, quality of materials, etc) on the higher end version than the mass market version, but this isn’t always the case.
In terms of brand building, mass market lines help bring new customers to the line almost like a stepping stone to the higher end lines (why they call it “bridge” lines). The idea is that if someone buys a lower priced Marc by Marc Jacobs bag at 22 and loves it, when they’re 32 and have a bit more money they’ll consider buying the Marc Jacobs line. You can also look at it in terms of raising brand awareness. How many people outside of New York knew who Proenza Schouler were prior to their line with Target?
Where do you see the luxury brand in the future?
I see this market growing, but I also see mass market lines growing. What I don’t see, unless they implement some serious changes, is a place for mid-level stores like Macys, Dillards, etc. I think people feel like if I can get Vera Wang at Kohls, why should I buy her at Bloomingdales?