In the current competitive environment of the luxury industry, almost every brand puts its absolute focus on high-profit businesses such as handbags, and there are very few brands that make money from the ready-to-wear business.
However, in an industry dominated by noisy luxury giants, in addition to the homogenization of survival, there is still another luxury brand occupying the market in its own way. The Italian women's clothing group Max Mara, which is still run by the family, is an example. .
According to the group's disclosure, the total revenue of Max Mara's single brand in 2020 has reached 1.2 billion euros, and its performance has surpassed some luxury brands owned by giants such as LVMH and Kering Group that have not yet entered the 1 billion club.
Achille Maramotti, a lawyer by profession, founded Max Mara in 1951 and is still at the helm of the group today. In the 70 years since its establishment, Max Mara Group has established a brand matrix consisting of 9 core brands including Max Mara, Sportmax, Weekend Max Mara, MAX&Co., Marella, iBlues, Marina Rinaldi, Pennyblack, etc. The fashion kingdom of business.
Even long-time observers of the fashion industry may not be familiar with the logic behind the mysterious Max Mara. However, studying how this women's clothing empire has passed through the 70-year market cycle is of great reference to the current market. It may be able to prove that in addition to joining the existing market competition that has gradually become involuted due to serious homogenization, luxury brands are not without other options. .
| Start with a coat
One of the long-term pain points in the ready-to-wear business, which is a headache for the luxury industry, is that complex and changeable ready-to-wear designs are more difficult to symbolize than handbags, which are easy to become a status symbol. In addition to crazy production of logo products, the traditional ready-to-wear business is almost helpless in the face of current market trends.
Max Mara is a rare luxury brand with iconic classic ready-to-wear items. Although its 101801 classic camel coat is not printed with a logo, it has the same status as a luxury handbag and has become a status symbol for mature elite women.
The importance of this classic product comes partly from the groundbreaking impact it had on the industry when it was first launched. In 1981, the then designer Anne Marie Beretta made a breakthrough in adding female elements to the traditional male military uniform.
On the other hand, 101801 is also the epitome of the rise of Max Mara and Italian fashion. Max Mara is the earliest Italian clothing company. The brand has launched a number of ready-to-wear collections for women of different ages, body shapes and lifestyles, and introduced clothing size standards when there was no uniform size standard, bringing the tradition and industrialization of high fashion production. The production of ready-to-wear is combined, so Max Mara is recognized as a pioneer of the modern concept of ready-to-wear in the world, becoming one of the typical representatives of "Made in Italy".
Today the Max Mara 101801 Classic Coat is an absolute and timeless symbol of modern simplicity, and like the Chanel Bag, the Max Mara 101801 Classic Coat has remained unchanged since its debut in 1981, offering consumers a sense of sustainable stability. To date, this double-breasted coat with large lapels made of wool and cashmere blend has sold at least hundreds of thousands of pieces worldwide.
Classics need to be focused, and taking classic products as the foundation is an important reason for Max Mara Group to stand still, which also reminds the industry of the importance of establishing core and competitive products. It is worth noting that the 101801 classic coat is fundamentally different from the "explosive models" in today's market context. The former is a benchmark that promotes the development of the industry in a specific historical environment, while the latter is a metabolite that follows the ebb and flow of the Internet, and may not necessarily be a classic.
Of course, classics also need iteration, and it is far from enough to rely on a classic product. In recent years, Max Mara has developed a new iconic teddy bear coat in addition to the 101801 classic coat. The product was relaunched with improved underlayment and fabrics by creative director Ian Griffiths after discovering the teddy bear jacket from the brand's archives.
The evolution from 101801 to teddy bear coats is behind the brand’s observation of consumers’ desire for higher comfort and more and more casual dress scenarios, which reflects the brand’s grasp of market trends. At the same time, Max Mara invited many stars to wear teddy coats, including many male traffic stars, and successfully set off a teddy trend online and offline. The marketing strategy behind it is more worthy of study.
| Create a female culture around classic products
Luxury brand or high-end clothing brand is different from mass ready-to-wear brand, although it is about excellent craftsmanship and products, it does not stop there. Storytelling and brand culture are the main sources of luxury premiums.
In many cases, Max Mara prefers to position itself in high-end ready-to-wear rather than luxury, which reflects the brand's pragmatic attitude and its connection to real life. On a certain level, Italian fashion is more concerned with the product itself than French fashion because of its industrial DNA. Therefore, Max Mara does not create illusory brand stories, but builds a culture around the group's focus on products.
The first thing related to the product is the female culture, especially the professional female culture, which runs through the development of Max Mara.
Unlike many people's conservative stereotypes about northern Italy, Max Mara's products represented by the 101801 classic coat have actually brought a very subversive industry influence. Its purpose is to dress women, and it is almost the first professional Brands with women, not casual women as their brand icons.
The creation of culture is not a moment, but the accumulation of time and practice. Max Mara's attention to professional women does not stop at the moment when the 101801 classic coat was born. On a global scale, Max Mara has partnered with the Los Angeles Women in Filmmakers to launch the MaxMara Future Stars Award, and the Max Mara Women in Art Award in partnership with Whitechapel Gallery has been established for more than 15 years.
In the Chinese market, Max Mara has established close ties with elite women in China through continuous marketing in recent years, giving the brand a more vivid and profound image and personality. Although Max Mara has not yet announced any brand ambassadors in the market environment where luxury brands have seized the spokesperson, but when people describe Max Mara, the images of women that come to mind, or the roles of TV series or very temperament Public figures are all manifestations of Max Mara's successful brand association.
It is worth noting that Max Mara is one of the earliest brands to understand the influence of mass film and television communication. It uses platform thinking and combines new media strategies to successfully integrate into the Chinese market through the penetration of urban fashion dramas and integrated marketing. environment and social dialogue. The brand has passed many TV series and variety shows such as "My First Half of My Life", "Everything Is Good", "Little Joy", "Thirty Only", "Sister Riding the Wind and Waves" and this year's hit "Ideal City". This topical figure "simulated" the real and vivid Chinese female image of Max Mara, making it the brand's imperceptible spokesperson. This novel marketing method quickly caused the market to follow suit.
The seemingly restrained marketing method actually comes from the complex pre-preparation of the marketing team. Starting from the stars, the team selectively supports the image of the heroine in the play by screening the theme of the script, the core creative team and the image and personality of the leading characters, and provides shooting scenes, etc., so that Max Mara can convey the brand image and spirit through the screen characters.
"Thirty Only" stylist Li Yikai previously told LADYMAX that in the last episode of the TV series, Wang Manni, one of the protagonists, gave up the opportunity to become a luxury store manager and decided to study abroad. Before preparing for her new life, she had a Max Mara classic camel coat that she had never seen before. "Max Mara does not deliberately consider its price in her body, but the female image of the brand." Obviously, compared to the status symbol behind the product, Max Mara is more like a woman to some extent. Symbol of strength.
Although more and more brands have been involved in such film and television cooperation, in China, the production team usually takes three to five months to efficiently complete the shooting of a TV series, while the broadcast The departure time will be relatively delayed. For most brands, it is almost an impossible task to store the scarce seasonal samples on the crew for three to five months. Therefore, the marketing team chooses to use classic products for implantation, which is a smart strategy, and continues to tell stories around the logo products to strengthen the brand culture.
In addition to the indirect means of film and television drama implantation, Max Mara also directly expresses the core values of the brand by holding a series of "Salute to Women of the Times, Performing Real Self Power" women's forums and VIP dinners in various cities in 2021. By inviting Olympic champions, Outstanding women in various fields, such as war correspondents, documentary directors, and female scientists, praised the unique spirit and strength of contemporary women, and at the same time used this in-depth sharing and communication to enhance customers' in-depth understanding and emotional resonance of brand culture.
On October 12th, the topic #83-year-old woman records Chinese sports with a camera# was on Weibo's hot search, attracting the attention of the mainstream news media and gaining more than 36.8 million views. The character of the story, Hong Nanli, has been active in the sports photography industry for 40 years. She recently photographed a group of female football players wearing Max Mara's classic coats galloping across the field. She used herself to interpret the determination to never give up. She is the most powerful spokesperson for female power, and this group of topics is also for Max Mara. Celebrating 70 years as part of an exclusive 7for70 documentary series featuring seven female photographers of various ages.
Obviously, since becoming the first luxury brand to enter the Chinese market in 1993, Max Mara has had a real connection with Chinese contemporary culture.
| Luxury is a classic and flexible wheel
Classics need to be continuously transformed in order to pass the time cycle. This ability to continuously transform is the solid basic skill of luxury brands. In addition to the timeless side of classics, Max Mara is also flexible in the face of the rapidly changing market.
Under the influence of increasingly fierce market competition and street trends, the consumer market has gradually formed a consensus that only through symbols can achieve large-scale communication, which, as one of the tentacles of creativity, repeatedly links brands and consumers. Luxury brands must clarify their identities through further symbolization, but obviously simple and straightforward text logos cannot satisfy brands like Max Mara that advocate quiet luxury.
Therefore, starting from the teddy bear coat product, Max Mara abstracted the image of the teddy bear in the 1980s, and launched the teddy bear of the brand mascot "MaxTheTeddy" in 2019 and successfully attracted the attention and interest of the young group, as a brand The symbolic teddy bear makes it easier for Max Mara to communicate with younger consumers. Last year, Max Mara launched the "Teddy Treasure Hunt" WeChat mini game. This year, to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the brand's establishment, Max Mara launched a 3G interactive experience of "MaxMara Teddy Crossing", which tells the history of the brand, and held it in 13 cities. POP UP tour.
At a time when almost every brand has launched logo T-shirts, sweaters, sweaters and scarves, trying to print logos wherever possible, secondary logos such as graphics have become a more restrained way of communication. The survey shows that the 30-50-year-old customer group is still the main consumer of the Max Mara brand, and currently the largest proportion is the 30-35-year-old group. However, it is worth noting that compared with the existing customer base, the number of new brand customers of Gen Z continues to increase. Most of them are deeply involved in social media platforms and will more actively participate in brand digital interactive content.
In order to provide a more comprehensive and borderline digital consumption experience, Max Mara also started landing on e-commerce last year. In June last year, the brand opened an official WeChat flagship store and entered Tmall Luxury Products on July 1, followed by the opening of the China official website flagship store on July 20, and the Tmall flagship store on September 20. In view of the excellent products, deep cultivation in the Chinese market and the building of brand power, MaxMara has become the first luxury women's clothing brand on Tmall to break 10 million sales on the day of its grand opening within three months of its opening.
Luxury should be a rotation of classic and flexible strategies. The fallacy that exists in the market today is often compromising on short-term trends in the parts of products and brands that need to be adhered to, and a lack of innovation in the need for a flexible market strategy. In addition, the relationship between the two is not a choice between the two. A flexible market strategy must be based on excellent products, otherwise, you will lose yourself in the rapidly changing market. The neglect of product creation and the slack in adhering to the long-term consistency of the brand have become a common shortcoming in the market.
At a time when creative directors change every five years, many new designers have to abandon and subvert their brand heritage for short-term performance. On the contrary, for a long time, Max Mara has not deliberately emphasized a certain designer. In the fierce arena of Milan Fashion Week, when other Italian brands are committed to highlighting their souls, this is obviously a unique strategy. .
Ian Griffiths, the current creative director of Max Mara Group, has been serving the group for more than 30 years. Although Max Mara once employed well-known designers such as Karl Lagerfeld, Jean-Charles de Castelbajac, Narciso Rodriguez and Anne Marie Beretta, founder Achille Maramotti still hopes to emphasize the Max Mara brand more uniformly, which is also the reason why the brand value can be continued and reasons for accumulation.
In the past three decades, capital expansion and Internet communication in the luxury industry have exacerbated the homogeneity and polarization of the industry, making market trends affect brand decisions at any time, sacrificing long-term value for short-term benefits, and making more and more brands tend to copy existing products. The ability to innovate is lost due to proven successful experience.
However, the characteristics of Max Mara in the face of market fluctuations, including the consistent classic products and brand spirit, persistent connection with consumers, decisive abandonment of men's clothing and the focus on cultivating women's clothing, etc., are all achievements of its standing 70 year basis. In addition, the local marketing strategy adopted by the brand in balancing global expansion and localization development in different markets, especially the Chinese market, has also helped it gain a firm foothold in the new wave that is constantly coming.
The luxury industry doesn't have to be a Hunger Game. As a privatized family business, Max Mara was able to maintain independence in a capital-heavy market, showing another way of running a luxury brand.