When Bernard Arnault, Chairman, LVMH bought Tiffany in 2015 for $15.8 billion, he was accused of ‘overpaying.’
The storied jewellery brand had stagnated, and revenue was falling even though the industry was growing. Fast forward to 2023 and last week’s earnings call, where the group announced that Tiffany was the largest contributor to LVMH’s growth over the past two years, with a 23% growth in sales.
We broke down the pillars of the turnaround, which is being credited largely to 30 year old Alexandre Arnault, who became Tiffany’s Vice-President of Brand & Communication after the acquisition.
#1. Target a new audience
Tiffany’s sales came from an older, affluent segment and tourists. It was no longer aspirational for a younger audience. The new playbook specifically targeted GenZ and Millennials.
#2. Bold, new communication
When Tiffany launched the ‘Not Your Mother’s Tiffany’ campaign in July 2021, there was widespread outrage. The company also gave up its Page 3 ad in the New York Times, which had run since 1896, opting instead for more digital media.
Note: The campaign was disruptive, but not entirely original. Automotive manufacturer Oldsmobile ran ‘Not Your Father’s Oldmobile’ in 1988, also to appeal to a younger generation. That idea was a disaster, and has been blamed by many for hastening the brand’s demise.
#3. New brand ambassador
Perhaps the biggest impact on the brand was the appointment of Beyonce as brand ambassador and the series of ads that have delivered billions of impressions in the last two years.
It started with a campaign called ‘About Love,’ featuring the singer and her husband Jay Z photographed in front of a rare Basquiat painting in Tiffany’s iconic robin-blue colour.
Since then, there have been music video-like ads, whose vibe could not be further removed from Tiffany’s previously staid image.
#4. New products
All of the communication would not move sales, if the product portfolio did not keep up. Tiffany launched its first all-gender line called Lock, a series of bracelets that swivel open and snap into place, available for $10,000-$20,000. The website says ‘No rules. All welcome.’
Under Arnault, Tiffany has experimented with everything from NFTs to TiffCoins (a limited drop of physical gold coins that give the holder access to exclusive events.)
An April Fools joke in 2021 nearly broke the Internet, when the brand tweeted that it was abandoning its blue colour for yellow. Riding the moment, a bright yellow pop-up store appeared on Rodeo Drive.
Arnault has delivered on this shock and awe playbook previously with luxury luggage brand Rimowa. In a recent interview, he said ‘brands need to be part of the cultural zeitgeist.’ Advice that all of us should take to heart.