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Challenges such as growth in customer sophistication, and the need to continue growing the non-price value aspects of a brand that luxury players have faced in recent years is driving innovation across the brand strategy spectrum allowing some horizon brands to capture greater customer and market mindshare.
Most brands undergo strategy reviews related to how they may be able to deliver on their brand promise through ambitious Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programmes. This is not an easy undertaking as there is the challenge of applying the products and services created by the company to the genuine needs of the market place. Today a healthy mix of funding external programmes delivered by third sector (NGOs, Charities and Social Enterprises) as well as in-sourced delivery programmes both remain viable options for large Multinationals to deliver on their CSR ambitions.
As of late the luxury market has seen some brands like Maybach and Rolex find the perfect space for bringing their brands to life through harnessing and engaging the skills of their customers. The silver bullet is Mentoring.
The Maybach brand has long held the imagination of the luxury market and through the Maybach Foundation the brand has started to deliver a one-on-one mentoring scheme. The scheme has strong ties to Maybach’s own history as Gottlieb Daimler himself carried those values when he met Wilhelm Maybach and decided to take the talented young engineer under his tutelage.
The programme has a strong social focus and is championing the ‘arts’ through engaging its unique customer base to mentor and nurture upcoming talent as was seen at the 2011 Venice Biennale with the entry of a vandalised test-car by mentor/mentee pair Julian Schnabel and his protégé Vahakn Arslanian. Schnabel’s piece titled “The ones you didn’t write – The Maybach Car” features Schnabel’s scribbling on the body of the car while Arslanian brings back his childhood destructive mood by shattering the glass and placing his drawings inside. The collaboration was a unique work that captured the attention of a city without cars and brought the brand to the front for many of the Bienalle’s 440000 visitors (per the organisations website – www.labiennale.org).
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The other omnipresent luxury brand at the center of a current campaign to feature the success of its own mentoring programme is Rolex.  The recent Monocle issue 39 has a number of pages of media placement by Rolex featuring the ‘Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative’ positioned as an international philanthropic undertaking focused entirely on incubating and accelerating the potential of upcoming artists. With an exceptional advisory board featuring the likes of starchitect Frank Ghery and novelist Amitav Ghosh of Glass Palace and Sea of Poppies fame the programme is destined to engage and inspire Rolex customers as it seeks to deliver high impact mentoring through its chosen ‘masters’ to the next generation of protégés with the aim of delivering leading global artists and creatives.
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Perspective & Insight:
Luxury brands have a unique place in helping patron the arts and nurture the talent of the next generation which risks being impacted by the global downturn as sources of government funding dry up and creatives struggle to get access to resources and a platform they require to take their careers to the next level.
The next stage of evolution for many luxury brands would be to inspire and engage their customers themselves to deliver mentoring services to their local community. Needless to say this must be happening across a number of countries but a brand able to organise and track their social impact would be well positioned to gain even greater share of mind for those aspiring to ‘wear’ those values and embrace the brand even further.
This could well be extended by some brands looking to provide premium goods and services to small business with the aim of continuing to allow ‘big business to help small’. After all at one point even Rolex was a start-up.
Note: This article is not an advertorial and has been written by an independent consultant commenting on brand strategy as related to company CSR programmes. To contact the author please email: faridhaque1977@gmail.com