Meet the artisans: LVMH fires new shot in luxury marketing war

Fri Jun 14, 2013 1:11pm EDT
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By Astrid Wendlandt

PARIS (Reuters) - LVMH will throw open the doors of its Louis Vuitton workshops and Hennessy cognac cellars at the weekend in the latest salvo of an advertising war among luxury groups to show off the craftsmanship behind their brands.

Starting on Saturday, the world's top luxury group by sales and market value will also offer behind-the-scenes tours of Christian Dior's salons, Guerlain's perfume plant outside Paris and Fendi leather shoe and handbag workshops in Italy.

The initiative, running for the second time after attracting more than 100,000 visitors in 2011, is the brainchild of Antoine Arnault, head of luxury shoe brand Berluti and the son of Bernard Arnault, LVMH's chief executive and founder.

Purveyors of luxury goods have been stepping up their efforts in recent years to portray their goods as "hand-made" in an attempt to justify their high prices and address consumers' growing interest in the origins of the products they buy.

Analysts say the sourcing and manufacture of goods have increasingly become a concern for customers, following a scandal over mislabeled horse meat in Europe and the deaths of more than 1,100 people in April in the collapse of a Bangladeshi textile factory that supplied some Western retailers.

"Sophisticated consumers from emerging markets pay more and more attention to where things are made and how they are made because they want products which are really exclusive and with a level of quality and craftsmanship which justify their high pricing," said Mario Ortelli, luxury goods analyst at Bernstein.

Western brands like Louis Vuitton and Gucci have long exploited that trend, with ad campaigns typically featuring sepia-toned photographs of artisans lovingly stitching bags or shoes.

Now they are going a step further by inviting customers to watch the craftsmen at work.   Continued...

A technical expert inspects a cellar at the Hennessy factory in Cognac, southwestern France, January 22, 2009. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau