Sometimes it’s funny and utterly surprising how and where you read about Hermès Birkins. Naturally, fashion magazines and blogs publish content on repeat. Business news sources like CNBC, the Wall Street Journal, Reuters, Fortune and Forbes, just to name a few, typically cover the corporate financial reports and results. On occasion, the investment value (or not) of Hermès’ bag trifecta is also discussed. But a recent analysis really caught our eye, not because of the discussion (it was on point), but rather the venue.
Writer Chip Klose suggests that restaurants should follow Hermes’ marketing strategies. To be clear, he is not suggesting that restaurants make their food unavailable- thank goodness, or we’d all be quite hungry.
However, what he examines is why people spend hours in line and tens of thousands of dollars for one (or two or three, if you include Kelly and Constance) handbag(s) when easier and less expensive options exist. He says it’s all in the marketing.
As Klose describes:
The price tag on a new Hermès Birkin bag starts at a cool $35,000. It is perhaps the most sought-after handbag in the world and at the original store in Paris, 24 rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, millionaires line up hours before sunrise just for the chance to purchase one. If you can believe it, the store does not take appointments.
Fifteen minutes before the doors open each morning, an associate emerges from the store to assign times to those waiting out front. Time slots are given in order, and if you find yourself near the end of the line it’s reasonable to expect that there won’t be any bags left over by the time it’s your turn to shop.
Just to be clear here: people wait for hours on end merely for the privilege of spending tens (or sometimes hundreds) of thousands of dollars on a purse…
Frankly, when you put it that way, it does seem nuts, as it certainly does to many of our significant others! Even when you adjust for the actual Birkin price which is closer to 10-15K at boutiques, depending upon leather.
So, what can restaurants learn from Hermès? Despite the difference between luxury (like Hermès) and commodity (your basic restaurant), it’s marketing. Differentiate your product. Make it something you can’t get anywhere else. Get people to desire it and then charge as much as you possibly can- more than anyone else.
On a basic level, that is a lot of the Hermès marketing. We’ve written countless times about other luxury fashion brands seeming to follow the orange strategy – in terms of exclusivity and desirability. The strategy is so obvious and successful that many U.S. business schools also use it in case study assignments and discussions. That’s right, a generation of future business executives of America now are well-versed in the ways of the Birkin.
So, in retrospect, perhaps we shouldn’t be so surprised to see restaurateurs look to the Hermès Birkin for inspiration. We’re just wondering how they’ll put it on the menu…