A career in luxury brand management

The price tag on a Jimmy Choo shoe is enough for many to pop their eyes out and the cost of a Louis Vuitton gown enough for people to shake their heads in disbelief. Yet, if you are one of these who can see beyond the money associated with these ionic brands and find yourself admiring their lineage a career in luxury brand management may turn out to be rewarding.

The growing number of Indians in the billionaire’s club coupled with a conspicuous rise of the urban elite class has seen many international luxury giants queue up to woo the Indian customer. Pulling out all stops on luxury a spectrum of premium merchandise and services ranging from designer dresses and handmade jewelry to watches and accessories, from custom cars and blue blood clubs to premium vacation resorts and exotic real estate is on offer for those who can afford to pay the price.

The need for individuals who can manage this upswing in this demand as well the clientele who generate it has led to the creation of new careers in luxury brand management.

Luxury brand management can best be described as an interdisciplinary subject that applies time tested management practices to businesses that offer premium services. The primary role of a luxury brand manager is to understand the heritage and history of the brand and associate its value with a potential set of clients. This person is chiefly responsible for the sometimes difficult task of keeping the brand popular while retaining its exclusivity, ensuring that the brand remains a popular and favored choice amongst both the masses in terms of desire and the elite in terms of purchase.

A typical workday begins with meeting clients or planning new corporate gift ideas with senior decision makers. This may be followed by taking out some esteemed clients for a business lunch or attending a promotional event in the evening.

A strong business management background coupled with functional experience in management practices is essential to the success of a luxury brand manager. Since luxury brand management involves a high level of customer interaction those with a natural flair for networking especially with the corporate class and the ability to build up a rapport with key decision makers will do well for themselves in this industry.

Luxury houses possess zero tolerance for anything that is below average or of low quality. Thus, it is essential for an individual working in this field to set a high standard for maintaining quality good customer relations and efficient time management skills.

It is essential for luxury brand managers to be in love with their product and believe that the company offers a value addition in terms of status and elegance to its client. A luxury brand manager who assumes the role of a mentor can spearhead the transformation of and merging luxury brand into a dominant market player.

Premium segments like custom cars, fashion, wines, chocolates, spa services, jewelry, leather accessories, watches, signature pens etc. have arrived on Indian shores and are in need of experienced brand managers.

With luxury brands spreading operations to newer countries, as a brand manger with a large luxury house, you can be the face of the brand in India or at a destination abroad managing the company’s operations and customer relations in that particular region. Thus a luxury brand manager also needs to constantly question and redefine the contours of luxury keeping in mind changing times, perceptions and tastes of the region’s public and also often provide design support to country specific limited edition product lines.

In India, one can take off as an executive and move up the ranks to become in charges of exclusive brand showrooms. With experience one can expect to handle their brand regional business expansion plans, organize prestigious events to market the brand, develop promotional campaigns and headhunt for a popular brand ambassador amongst other responsibilities. The more enterprising ones can even learn the tricks of the trade and go on to float their own companies in the future.

Currently, few options for study of luxury brand management exist in India with the only direct course on offer being the Global management Program for Executives in Luxury management offered by IIM- Ahmedabad in association with ESSEC Business school Paris. Professionals with an upper executive level experience can attend this unique program that aims to provide in depth training on the luxury business, its specificities the implementation old strategies and the exciting opportunities in emerging markets such as India. Participants of the program will get trained at ESSEC Paris where they get top interact with faculty, alumni touring international fashion houses and luxury business houses followed by intensive training at the IIM – A campus.

Luxury brand management is offered as an undergraduate elective and as a PG specialization in a number of European colleges. If you are contemplating going abroad to study the subject, it would make sense to look at countries like the UK, France and Italy which are home to some of the best names in luxury merchandise.

Some institutes offering popular courses in luxury brand management include;

1) Ecole Superiure des Sciences Economiuques et Commerciales (ESSEC), Paris.
2) Winchester school of Art, University of Southampton, UK.
3) University of the Creative Arts, London, UK.