References: Hardt, Michael. “Affective Labor.” Boundary 2 26.2 (1999): 89-100.
Arvidsson, Adam. “Brands: A Critical Perspective,” Journal of Consumer Culture 5.2 (2005): 235-258.
Moor, Elizabeth. “Branded Spaces: The Scope of ‘New Marketing,’” Journal of Consumer Culture 3.1 (2003): 39-60.
Keywords: Marketing strategy, luxury products, cosmetics, wedding
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Franck Muller Brand Profile:
Franck Muller is watch company from Switzerland that is particularly big and successful in Japan – probably even its biggest market. Today, Franck Muller is said to be the third most popular luxury watch brand in Japan, after Rolex and Cartier. Luxury brands are usually very successful in Japan as opposed than elsewhere in the world, there is a relatively easy answer to this. Japan is a country with a very high quality of life. Salaries are high, criminality is low, etc. Usually, when people have ‘extra money’ they spend it on three different things: house, holiday, objects and other personal products. Housing is very expensive, especially in main cities like Tokyo or Osaka. For a very high price, the apartment one get is usually fairly small. Therefore many Japanese don’t spend their money on housing as a priority. Holidays are usually very short in Japan. Even though most Japanese get 20 days holiday per year, which is the usual average in the West as well, however most Japanese hardly use all of their days of holiday, because they are hard-worker and taking too much holiday is apparently rather badly seen by the firm and other employees. This leaves only the objects and personal products category to spend this extra money on, and this typically includes luxury products, such as Franck Muller watches.
When the Franck Muller marketing is close to non-existent in home-based Switzerland itself – it is indeed rare to see an add in a magazine or in the street from the company, Franck Muller is actually very present and active in Japan. The brand owes its success in Japan precisely to its effective marketing. Many events are held each year that are known to stand out with their interesting design and features following the concept of the brand. Special limited edition gifts are always created for such event that can’t be bought in any Franck Muller boutique, such as coffee set, golf bags, etc. With the brand’s popularity, these gifts are so valued that they are often sold at very high price on auction websites.
Because of the popularity of such events, Franck Muller japan decided to create a very unique kind of event: Franck Muller Wedding (http://franckmuller-wedding.jp/). It is a unique Franck Muller feature that only exist in Japan. The brand is thus now very far from only being regular watchmaker, they are also sorts of dreams makers as they aspire to make your big day the most beautiful and perfect day there is. Talking about emotional attachment to a brand and experiential branding, having an entire wedding in a theme of a brand seems pretty extreme. Nonetheless the wedding business appears to be working quite well, with already 5 weddings realized this year. From the couple’s rings, to plates and cutlery, decoration of the reception hall: everything is made by Franck Muller. This new products, or service is very in line with Hardt’s argument of emotional labour (see reference and bibliography and theory section for more details). Franck Muller no longer simply sells a watch, but rather an entire experience. If the experience is successful – and it is no random experience since it is a wedding a.k.a THE unforgettable experience by essence – the brand makes sure to keep loyal customers for ever: the newly weds along with their guests. Quite a successful strategy then. Again however, the Franck Muller wedding only exists in Japan, and it is debatable whether it would be as successful in other countries.
image source: http://franckmuller-wedding.jp/index.html
Again, because of the popularity of the wedding, and special Franck Muller gifts and non-watch products, the brand created Franck Muller Future Form (http://www.franckmuller-fff.com/) that designs table wear (plates, cutlery, glasses, etc.) and in the future will also design house furniture It is interesting to notice that although the table wear are mostly ‘European style’ with Italian wine glasses, regular forks, knives, and so one, the expertise behind the conception of the table wear is purely Japanese. It is highly skilled Japanese master from a particular region in Japan that realize the prized porcelain for the plates, or the glasses. The products don’t even indicate “made in Japan” but rather made in a particular Japanese province renowned for such expertise. It is therefore interesting, even potentially surprising, to see that the brand does not realize Japanese table wear such as chopsticks, green tea set, soup bowl, etc. when it acquired the local Japanese expertise that could do it and above all even though when it is only sold in Japan and nowhere else in the world – yet.
image source: http://www.franckmuller-fff.com/onlineshop/
Franck Muller, although very well known in Japan remains a luxury products that only a few people can afford. The brand however seems to be targeting to this ‘elite group’ in particular with no special attention to lower their price to have more customers. Again, their marketing strategy seems to be quite in line with Arvidsson’s and Moor’s argument on new marketing techniques (see reference and bibliography and theory section for more details) that aims at selling “emotions” in addition to the products to create a more intimate relationship with the customer. New Marketing strategies also typically aims at creating a community for the customers. In the case of Franck Muller, such community is composed of wealthy customers who could afford to but the watch. Franck Muller Japan is therefore very in line with the new marketing strategies and appears more than successful as it is the third most popular brand (after Rolex notably). Regardless of the high prices of the Franck Muller products, most people are still eager to buy Franck Muller, partly in a desire to belong to the elitist Franck Muller community.
image source: http://www.kao.com/jp/en/corp_news/2011/imgs/20110613_001_01.jpg
Bioré, regardless of its French-sounding name, is a Japanese cosmetics brand that belongs to the Kao Corporation and that is sold around the world. The Bioré products focus especially on skin care. Bioré is known around Japan and the world for producing high quality product at reduced costs. Their core value is “Yoki-Monozukuri” (http://www.kao.com/group/en/group/kaoway_02.html) which means in japanese yoki: “good/excellent” and Monozukuri: “development/manufacturing of products”.
The brand also cares about sustainability issues, ethics and fairness in general. Values that improve the brand’s profile and consumer’s perception of it.
The brand, particularly by being cheap, targets general customers, everyone from low-income to high-income uses bioré products. From students, to successful businessmen for instance, it would be quite common to see Bioré products in the bathroom.
The brand’s mission is to “strive for the wholehearted satisfaction and enrichment of the lives of people globally and to contribute to the sustainability of the world” (www.kao.com). The Brand therefore aims at being closed to its customers but in a rather simple way. Bioré indeed do not aspire at being a luxury products only accessible to a certain class of people, but rather want to be accessible by all.
Franck Muller V.S. Bioré
Of course it is no the same kind of products that are sold here, however people that buy Franck Muller products are likely to buy Bioré as well (since Bioré targets any kind of customers). Bioré as opposed to Franck Muller does not organize special VIP events, for this reason no one would particularly feel like they belong to a special community when buying Bioré – again as opposed to Franck Muller, when only some people belonging to the Franck Muller community receive the ‘privilege’ to be invited to such events. The marketing strategy and missions of the brands of both Franck Muller and Bioré are very different then. While Bioré aims at selling simple and good quality products – ‘sans prétention’ (as in ‘non-flamboyant’), Franck Muller is more interesting in selling an entire lifestyle. Franck Muller will not only sell you high quality and haute-horlogerie watches, but also will re-decorate your house and custom your very special day: your wedding. Franck Muller is therefore in a way, all about being flamboyant, whereas Bioré is not.
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By Clara Payró