“The latest couture season features elaborate designs including micro-studded jeans that shimmer from waist to toe and a jewel-thin metallic dress,” the Wall Street Journal said over the weekend, referring to the products. by Chanel, Armani Privé, Maison Margiela, Fendi and co. But look beyond the rhinestone-encrusted jeans and cowboy boots from John Galliano’s latest Maison Margiela Artisanal collection and the “fine, shiny feather-like rhodoïd fringes” material that Alexandre Vauthier used to construct pants for fall 2022 couture, and you’ll see there’s another kind of “extra bloom” coming from luxury brands: warranties and repair services.
Bottega Veneta, for its part, recently made headlines as part of its “Certificate of Craft” initiative, which sees it offering a lifetime guarantee for Bottega handbags purchased from the brand and its authorized retailers. from this month. As part of the warranty, the Kering-owned company will offer free refresh and repair services for a growing list of bag styles. Speaking of the new venture, Bottega Veneta CEO Leo Rongone said it was “born out of a desire to provide our customers with superior service in the long-term preservation of their products”, noting that in in conjunction with its “focus on responsible growth,” Bottega wants to “keep products in service longer, reducing the need for replacement.”
Repair initiatives on the rise
The Italian luxury brand isn’t the only one willingly marketing repair services. As we first reported last year, Chanel has put its weight behind similar efforts, primarily indicated by the growing number of trademark applications filed for its name and other trademarks – from “Ready to Care” to “Chanel & Moi” – to be used on services, such as “cleaning of clothing, textiles, footwear and leather goods”. Chanel has since launched its “Warranty” initiative, under which it “commits to an exclusive 5-year warranty for all CHANEL handbags and CHANEL wallets on chain” acquired in its boutiques from April 2021. .
Reflecting on the influx of warranties into the upper echelon of the luxury segment, Jefferies analysts Flavio Cereda and Kathryn Parker recently revealed that behind Bottega (and Brunello Cucinelli, which also offers lifetime free repairs for its products), “Chanel offers the second most comprehensive repair service with [its] 5-year warranty”, while Gucci offers a 2-year warranty for its handbags.
Cereda and Parker state that “Louis Vuitton bags have no warranty”. However, the brand “has been emphasizing efforts to offer repair services for its products” this summer, and more recently said it repairs some 500,000 bags a year, some of which are facilitated by its ” e-service” in the United States. Jefferies analysts point to Hermès, which “does not offer free repairs and renovations” but performs “Hermès Spa” services for its handbags at “a cost depending on the level of restoration needed”.
Brands rolling out warranties and related initiatives join a long list of watchmakers, such as Rolex, Audemars Piguet, Patek Philippe, LVMH-owned Tag Heuer, and Richemont’s Vacheron Constantin, to name a few. , and other luxury brands that have lengthy — but often silent — warranties offered, and corresponding maintenance and repair services to buyers.
Marketing and price justification
The growing emphasis on product warranties and life extension services by luxury brands – which have traditionally been viewed as potential impediments to the volume-based model maintained by most brands, including those of the “luxury” sphere – is driven by a confluence of critical factors. On the one hand, these increasingly commercialized repair services allow brands to tout their sustainability credentials in the face of growing consumer concern for the environment. “Being eco-friendly” – including when it comes to fashion consumption – “has moved from a niche consideration to a central parameter of desire”, wrote Luke Leitch for Vogue last year in a nod to the growing adoption of repair services by luxury players.
At the same time, brands know that the message behind these companies is particularly important when it comes to young, climate-conscious consumers who will, one day, be their biggest spenders. Repair services “have become much more attractive to younger customers – even those who can afford something new,” according to McKinsey analyst Anita Balchandani. Hence the push by hot companies like Bottega Veneta, which have found favor with millennials, to promote circularity through product longevity programs.
In addition to bringing marketing benefits and helping brands attract new customers, these initiatives allow brands to generate goodwill and also strengthen their connection with existing customers.
Beyond that, luxury brand repair warranties/benefits – which often only apply to new products purchased from the brands and/or their authorized resellers – allow companies to entice consumers to buy products through authorized channels rather than secondary market. In turn, it is a way for control-conscious luxury giants to retain – or in some cases regain – as much control as possible over the market for their products. This forces brands to find ways to attract and sell directly to consumers, including offering benefits that unauthorized retailers and resellers cannot.
Yet there is the undeniable element of pricing. It’s certainly no coincidence that a number of newly introduced warranty/maintenance initiatives come as brands across the board have aggressively hiked their prices. By advertising these services, luxury brands like Chanel, for example, are essentially offering consumers added value, potentially in an effort to soften the blow of soaring prices.
The growing role of Web3
The growing offer of warranties and repairs by brands will likely bring more web3 practicalities into the mix (this sphere isn’t just limited to expensive blockchain-related MetaBirkins or Bored Ape jpegs), with such efforts potentially perfectly matched with the growing adoption of blockchain technologies by enterprises. It’s not hard to imagine brands choosing to immutably record ownership and warranty information, as well as product repair histories, via blockchain-hosted tokens or QR codes.
We see these efforts going through luxury watch brands and automakers. Breitling, for example, has been a forerunner in this area, introducing blockchain-based product passports for its watches, and allowing customers to not only verify the authenticity of their watches and transfer ownership upon resale, but also to record repairs “with a timestamp”. on the blockchain. Additionally, the watch company said in 2020 that it plans to roll out “future assurance services and enhanced resale warranties” with links to Product Passports. Panerai explored this space as well, revealing earlier this year that “over time, every Panerai watch will receive a digital passport, as a service to protect its precious singular identity, maintain an open line of communication with the brand and unlock benefits and services.”
More recently, Italian automaker Alfa Romeo announced that each of its new Tonale SUVs will come equipped with a blockchain-based certificate that tracks the car’s service record. The Stellantis-owned company said in February that the “blockchain-backed certification of the car’s life record” will provide a “confidential and non-modifiable record of the main life stages of [each] individual vehicle [that] can be used as a guarantee of the general condition of the car”, creating “a positive impact on its residual value”.
It will be interesting to see how brands will use blockchain technology hand in hand with their burgeoning interest in repairs. Rolex seems eager to participate, filing a new trademark application with the US Patent and Trademark to register its famous name for use in a range of products and services, including “watches and chronometric instruments with numeric codes, labels, tags and digital chips” (in class 14). Shortly before, Hermès had filed a request in the same vein, focusing on services, such as “blockchain technology to represent a collector’s item”, among others.
There is a good chance that it is part of where luxury is heading, especially in light of the bigger picture, which is the lasting impact of the resale market and consumers’ treatment of some luxury goods as investable (and tradable) assets . There will of course be, as the WSJ notes, elaborate couture creations in the mix.