Between a rock and a hard place
The example of Nina Ricci, even though quite different, is nonetheless very interesting as it reveals the obstacles confronting the independents. Contrary to a watch brand, a fashion brand like Nina Ricci has greater room to manoeuvre. But this does not mean that things are any easier since its positioning places it between a rock and a hard place—that is, between numerous fashion and accessories brands on one side, and on the other, the global big names such as Chanel, Hermès and Louis Vuitton that have passed over to the ‘serious’ side of timekeeping.
At the low-end of the market, ranging from 100 to 400 Swiss francs, there are so many brands that in this chaotic environment, it is difficult to produce the volumes necessary without being exceptionally strong. Launched into this segment, the Nina Ricci watch brand has gradually moved upmarket, climbing into the range of 500 to 1,000 Swiss francs. But the crisis has hit this sector very hard and it has more or less dried up since women have found themselves with reduced purchasing power. The 1,000-franc price ceiling has moved down to 500 francs.
Cécile Maye, in charge of Marvin, M014 detail and M108
Jean-Daniel Maye, in charge of Nina ricci and one of the latest Nina Ricci models
Going straight to the essential
The decision was thus taken to return to the lower price range and offer new Swiss Made Nina Ricci collections at less than 400 Swiss francs, which offer “strong but simplified products,” especially in terms of the cases that had progressively become very sophisticated. “We can capitalize on our savoir-faire,” explains Jean-Daniel Maye, “and go straight to the essential because, based on our experience, we understand what works and what does not work. This readjustment goes along with seeking a younger clientele. In this context, the successful launch of the Nina Ricci perfume line and the great success of the vintage Jackie Kennedy eyewear have been very helpful for us. Our line’s current positioning, with its rapid rotation of collections, aims to reconnect with the markets where we were excluded because of our earlier higher positioning. This also goes along with a transformation of our distribution, one that is less exclusive, the opening of counters and a reintroduction into duty-free shops. In the end, this is the logical evolution that the crisis only accelerated. To be independent means to be reactive.” Thus Nina Ricci is thinking seriously about launching online sales beginning in 2010. This will however be limited to those countries where the brand does not have brick-and-mortar retailers.
The strategies of the independents confronted with the economic crisis: Part 1
The strategies of the independents confronted with the economic crisis: Part 2
The strategies of the independents confronted with the economic crisis: Part 3
The strategies of the independents confronted with the economic crisis: Part 4
The strategies of the independents confronted with the economic crisis: Part 6
Source: Europa Star October-November 2009 Magazine Issue