What I mean by small luxury product brands? I am thinking of a highly organized and “contemporary” (marketing, branding) effort of manufacturing products of a high-end range in different product departments.
I do not mean fashion, shoes, or any other strictly niche product areas. The fact that there is currently no brand able to manufacture product design in different themes as furniture, glass, utensils, appliances is a matter worth thinking about and dissecting in a few points:
1. Smaller brands have been becoming a part of conglomerates for decades.
The workshop / studio / movement tradition of France, Italy, Germany, Czech republic or other European countries in context of “design” or product creation stemmed from local craftsmanship. Family brands that were very successful and had an international impact, most probably became a part of a higher organizational structure and not exceptionally — one of the three main luxury contemporary conglomerates. The craftsmanship was assimilated to serve a more integrated purpose.
2. Investors are currently more attracted (almost hypnotically in some cases) to the trend of “tech”.
The momentum of the tech trend investments is understandable, the visual communication is being diversified and this naturally leads to a higher demand in what we call “tech” nowadays.
However, many of the tech “solutions” do not really present an organized will to solve a problem, many of them just create a problem to solve.
I believe the trend of tech will be streamlined after we discover enough communication channels and perhaps the potential of tech will be directed to more useful areas as bionics and robotics.
Conclusively, the attention of investing to a product nowadays is drawn more to a digital product, rather than the physical one. This leaves a large room for opportunities in the area of high-end product design, the competition has thinned considerably over the decades.
3. The problem of creativity — how to gather enough of quality aesthetics.
It may not seem like it, but this is the greatest issue that may prevent any aspiring product brand from reaching a major success. First and foremost, ambitious brand needs a strong direction assembled either in grove of creative minds or led by a multi-versed creative. Good direction will ensure coherence in all the creative aspects — the most important foundation of a contemporary brand. Next up, the aesthetical quality that is to be imbued to the precisely and correctly selected product areas needs to be innovational in the pure force of its visuality. If all of this can be done, 60 % of the brand is already there.
4. The problem of suppliers — how to find the right manufacturers.
There are enough of high quality suppliers, the problem is mainly budgetary. Most small companies can’t afford to reach the best manufacturing houses in their early startup phase. This leads us back to the point 2 and without a good guide to overcome this issue, it can become a deathly cycle for a startup.
5. We have to be very niche, no? The issue of the “niche” cliché.
Some “101” class styled “experts” advise to follow the “niche” pattern in products. Is this really an undeniable prerequisite? The answer is yes and no, it simply depends on what product you want to create and sell. The more exclusive the product is to a certain lifestyle use or production / manufacture flow, the better it can be branded as a separate brand.
However, there is a wide area of products that can be branded under one roof, and with the right direction and execution — can create an aesthetical movement. Do you remember movements? Those things that existed in 20th century and were spearheaded by the most creative designers , artists and architects? Such movements are non existent nowadays, in spite of the amazing technological advances.
6. Hey, but what about designer brands? The famous designers and their studios?
These are not universally autonomous brands. They work predominantly on the basis of contracted work for another brand. Designer brands are the contemporary versions of small craft studios that were more widespread decades ago.
So what now?
What can we do about the fact that the current, growing luxury market worth 223 billion Euros is ruled only by the luxury conglomerates who offer product design as a pendant to fashion?
Maybe we can think about the previously stated thoughts and how to solve them to create a truly modern, high-end product brands that can have an immense impact on the market that is almost void of competition in its true, pure sense of a luxury product.
The future is in fusing the excellent managerial and organizational coherency / potency of conglomerates with innovative, fresh aesthetics that has potential to cover and pierce the market with the sheer quality and width of offered products.