Going Coach Flying First
Coach positions itself as the go-to brand for the first-time luxury buyer
Coasting on provenance is kosher for all luxury brands, but a heightened sensibility, increased awareness and incessant information feeds via social media have evolved a new customer that simply wants more. “Hermes is a special category, and probably the only exception to this rule,” admits Ian Bickley, President Coach International, the New York-based handbag and leather goods maker with a history going back to 1941. “At every price point, the consumer is making a purchase that has to enhance lifestyle so that all the brands have had to up their game.” In the capital for the launch of their second India store—the first, in Palladium, Mumbai, was launched in July last year—Bickley makes no bones about the fact that Coach means business, including signing up pop star, actress and reigning queen of social media, Selena Gomez (most followers on Instagram at 104 million) as the face of the brand. In today’s environment, creative has to work with business; the days of John Galliano, where crazy rules but nothing sells are relegated to the pages of history.
Being in India
From an overall consumption and opportunity perspective, India is going to be an important market; it may not be as big on luxury as others in Asia but we have to be part of the journey. It’s all about finding the right partner and location and entering the market at the right time.
The Coach woman
It’s quite broad; not just a woman in her 20s but even one in her 40s. Almost 50 per cent of women probably know the brand but the perception is based on old images of the brand. We like to surprise, but in a more positive way. This is the new Coach where even the first-time and young consumers are finding us relevant.
Overall, we have tried to elevate the positioning of the brand by offering more fashion credibility with runway shows that have created a lot of buzz, especially on social media. Secondly, we have tried to reinforce the story of our DNA—handcrafted leather goods for over 75 years from a product perspective. We have also elevated our shop designs to strengthen the value proposition that the brand has to offer.
Coach in a bespoke world
We are not exclusive; our accessibility makes our offering more democratic. For Coach, the bigger opportunity is to net the woman who is making her first luxury purchase. That is the point where we find ourselves as we take on the Indian market.
White Linked Leather Detail Rogue Tote
IAN BICKLEY President, Coach International