Brands rewind to move fast forward

07 Nov,2013

By John Sarkar

 

Marketers have hit the rewind button. From Rolls-Royce and Bacardi to Louis Vuitton and Fuji, top brands are touting their roots to be on the ball this season.

 

Take Louis Vuitton for instance. After flirting with fashion, the world’s most counterfeited brand has gone back to what it does best, make high-end luxury luggage. It is also pitching to its well-heeled Indian clients a new book, which is the first comprehensive taxonomy of its women’s handbags that date back to the turn of the 20th century.

 

In the meanwhile, Indian bike maker Royal Enfield has launched the Continental GT, a modern take on its popular cafe racer from the ’60s. And following a disastrous first innings, Italian scooter maker Piaggio is riding back into reckoning in India on its new Vespa, whose classic lines hark back to the times when baby boomers took over the roads.

 

“Top brands are flaunting their heritage to stand out from the crowd. New generation Indians are more connected and well travelled. They want to know what a brand stands for,” says V Sunil , executive creative director at Wieden+Kennedy India , the advertising agency behind the popular Royal Enfield Continental GT campaign . That’s what Triumph Motorcycles, the 111-year-old British brand known for its retro-modern bikes, will be counting on when it enters the premium end of the domestic motorcycle market in the next few days. Along with Royal Enfield, Norton and the now defunct BSA, Triumph enjoyed a loyal fan following in India before the Japanese came in with their cheaper and more efficient machines.

 

To automobile connoisseurs , Rolls-Royce Motor Cars is best known for the ‘waftability’ of its cars. However, a couple of months ago in Mumbai, the British luxury carmaker introduced the Wraith, a powerful fastback inspired by its vintage grand tourers. “Wraith revives one of the most famous Rolls-Royce names first used for a production model in 1938,” Herfried Hasenoehrl, Rolls-Royce’s GM for emerging markets-Asia , told TOI. “The name expresses the character of the new car by alluding to a powerful force, something agile and potent.” Industry experts feel that this bold move will allow younger and more adventurous buyers in India to warm up to the iconic 109-year-old automobile marquee.

 

Well, maybe. But brand guru Santosh Desai has a theory about the business of buying and selling nostalgia. “It’s fuelled by an overdose of digitisation ,” he says. “Technology has left Indian consumers very jaded. They crave for the human touch — the roughness, feel and texture of handmade products of the eras gone by. So now, if you want to experience the scarcity of an era, you have to fork out a premium.”

 

This may have resonated within the ranks of Japanese companies too, hailed by many as the true torchbearers of digital technology . Four decades after launching its original mass produced superbike, Honda is reviving the lineage of the hugely popular CB750 with the retro-modern CB1100. And in a booming domestic market ruled by digital SLRs and point and shoots, Tokyo-based photography and imaging company Fujifilm is capturing the big picture with its slightly expensive X1 series of cameras, reminiscent of photography’s early days with metal-milled analog dials and leather clad bodies. “We were a little slow off the blocks to make the transition into digital technology. And the X1 series helped us overcome that lag,” says Rahul Pandit, executive VP, Fujifilm India. “It got us instant attention in India since it looks so retro and it showcased our rich heritage in film at the same time.”

 

The trend has moved on to other sectors as well. While liquor brands like Belvedere Vodka, Grey Goose, Jim Beam and Bacardi are focusing on showcasing their traditions in new campaigns, a significant number of fashion brands are increasingly finding out new ways to connect with their roots.

 

British designer label Burberry, best known in recent years for women’s handbags and fashion, witnessed a huge spike in sales this year by re-establishing itself as a menswear retailer. Similarly, fashion house Fendi is funding the restoration of the iconic Trevi Fountain in Rome to bolster its Italian connection. Says Pietro Beccari, chairman and CEO of Fendi: “This project allows us to once again reinforce our geographical and cultural Roman roots, which we are very proud of.”

 

What’s next? Watch out for a qwerty tablet!

 

Source:The Economic Times

Copyright © 2013, Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd. All Rights Reserved

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