In 1854, Louis Vuitton founded his House. While the company has reinvented itself over the last 165 years, it has never lost sight of the importance of its heritage.
That heritage story not only stimulates the millions of people who buy LV products each year, but also inspires the teams who work for the luxury brand.
NextShoot were invited to dig through the Louis Vuitton film archives and select choice pieces from an haute-couture collection of campaign films, stylised animations and TV adverts that would be assembled into a compelling video narrative underlining the brand’s extraordinary heritage.
Our team were already well-versed in Louis Vuitton’s long history having created a video that explored their illustrious client list and iconic products
and had spent much time amongst the visual archives.
With this video, the key was to find threads that could be pulled through the whole story, so as to give consistency and narrative structure, and to tease out the themes at heart of the LV brand: craftsmanship (known in-house as ‘savoir-faire’), travel and prestige.
The production of the video inevitably lead us to explore the nature of the relationship between luxury brands and their heritage. After all, not all brands with a long history position themselves as heritage brands. Those that do entwine their heritage with their core values are sometimes referred to as Heritage Luxury Brands (HLBs).
Inevitably HLBs share common values: quality craftsmanship, timelessness and status. At the centre of each heritage story is the founder with a stong origin-story that boosts brand strength perception. The longer ago this founding took place, the better. Longevity in itself points to a reliability in core values and performance, while the ongoing heritage implies historic, national, and cultural values.
A illustrious client list of stylish and relevant celebrities is also a boost to the HLB, and careful choices are made to select celebrities whose values chime with those of the brand. With Louis Vuitton’s emphasis on travel and discovery, ‘personal’ as well as literal journeys count, and so Mikhail Gorbachev was not out of place in a 2007 campaign, being driven in a limousine past a section of the Berlin Wall, an open Louis Vuitton bag beside him.
For HLBs, a powerful backstory bypasses consumer barriers by speaking directly to their emotions. Their emphasis on heritage adds depth, authenticity and credibility to their perceived value, cementing brand loyalty and justifying their premium pricing.
The efficacy of promoting a rich and rarified craft-based heritage has traditionally brought HLBs success, but with that success comes a different challenge. Patrick Thomas, one-time CEO of Hermès, put it elegantly when he said:
“The luxury industry is built on a paradox: the more desirable the brand becomes, the more it sells, but the more it sells, the less desirable it becomes.”
The other challenge for Heritage Luxury Brand marketeers is how to communicate their rich heritage, while both remaining relevant today and looking to the future. ‘Laden with history’ meets ‘achingly contemporary’ is a tough look to carry off, but HLBs are finding their way.
What luxury brands are realising is that new generations of consumers are looking for relevance their in values as much as craftsmanship or heritage, and it’s worth noting that we’re talking about values that resonate with the under 35s, who by 2025 will account for more than fifty per cent of the global luxury goods market.
And it’s not just a case of building values that resonate with Gen Y and Z in the traditional core markets for HLBs. Chinese consumers now make-up one third of the global luxury goods market, and are expected to account for nearly half of this market by 2025, and so HLBs need to merge the backstory and ‘savoir-faire’ of their European heritage with Chinese values and tastes.
Ultimately prestigious pasts are no longer the be-all and end-all for today’s consumers. What sways today’s young luxury goods purchaser is a mixture of quality, uniqueness and innovation. No wonder then that Louis Vuitton has sought to reinvent classic pieces with modern applications, such as the Tambour Horizon smartwatch and the Louis Vuitton Echo, a smartphone-controlled luggage tracker.
For the moment at least, this approach is showing that Heritage Luxury brands like Louis Vuitton can mix a rich historical past with a bright, sustainable future.
View the case study for Louis Vuitton