Murakami on the bag: Louis Vuitton's decommoditization strategy
International Journal of Retail and Distribution Management
Purpose: As some areas of the luxury market have been industrializing because of their expanding scale and scope, the commoditization trend is threatening luxury brands along the value chain. Too many products might flood the market. Because the commodity trap has not so far been commonly referred to as the source of the problem, the efforts of firms to decommoditize have seldom been described. The purpose of this paper is to describe and interpret one type of successful reaction to this problem: the exclusive partnership made by Louis Vuitton with artist Takashi Murakami. The paper identifies the strategy along the value chain and its step by step implementation and influence on commoditization. Design/methodology/approach: The paper identifies the strategy behind this partnership and its step by step implementation. It uses a qualitative method because it would like to understand complex phenomenon and explore in depth, some strategic operations and decisions. More precisely, it is a case study research because it works on a contemporary situation and allows to retain the meaningful characteristics of real-life events as organizational, managerial and social processes Findings: LV strategy raises the difficulty for competitors to imitate or to propose same value products as the value added to LV product is almost unique with Murakami's touch. With this strategy they impact commoditization as defined by Reimann et al. Also, we formulate a few recommendations and insist on the integration of all the parts of the upstream value chain- especially operations - to achieve a successful long-term retail strategy. Research limitations/implications: There are no research on partnerships between art and luxury. Our extensive analysis of the partnership between LV and Murakami gives a comprehensive view of how this kind of collaboration helps to fight back commoditization. However, more case studies should be studied to know if the strategy is replicable. Practical implications: This research gives a comprehensive analysis of the adaptation of the value chain to make the partnership a success. It also underlines the need to conduct and to adapt the whole value chain to the specifities of the artist. Originality/value: There are few research investigating the links and partnerships between artists and luxury brands. The originality is to describe a particular partnership concerning all the parts of the upstream value chain - especially operations - it also makes recommendations concerning potential partnerships between art and luxury to fight back against commoditization. © Emerald Group Publishing Limited.