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.

What’s changed

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

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