L’Interview Très Stratégique de Markus Lampe, CEO de Baccarat

Publié le 22 novembre 2012 par Darkplanneur @darkplanneur

C’est une rencontre exclusive à laquelle Darkplanneur vous invite, une plongée dans l’une des maisons les plus mythiques de l’artisanat française:Baccarat. 250 ans de création, de haut artisanat, de représentation de « l’Art de Vivre à la Française », avec le lancement du nouveau site de marque, il était temps de redonner la parole à  cet ambassadeur du luxe français: Markus Lampe CEO de Baccarat, nous a fait l’insigne honneur de nous recevoir et de nous livrer en avant-première, les perspectives de la maison.


L’Interview Très Stratégique de Markus Lampe, CEO de Baccarat

Darkplanneur : What makes the singularity of the Baccarat House ?

Markus Lampe : What really differentiates is unique heritage. Considering it is almost 250 years of French history, I do not know another brand that could really claim that it has a tradition of working with the talents of the time, representing the influences in the design of the products in a way like Baccarat does. Baccarat has been always up to speak to the marketing, so if you look at today’s assortment of Baccarat, we have a very eclectic assortment which is a gain of reflection of each period or decades of the time. Each time representing a certain of style, a belief, a point of view and all of them being French culture, being a representation of French lifestyle. What we are proud of is that today, Baccarat truly represents the French history as well as a very relevant representation of products for today’s consumer.

D: How can you explain the success of the House , even in these crisis moments ?

ML : We are in the lucky situation that Baccarat has been very much appreciated by people who are well travelled and well-educated, typically wealthy. The lucky few know better Baccarat than the average consumers and that’s true worldwide. That’s why we are a little bit more independent of the crisis situation but not completely leader. I mean to be honest, during the crisis of 2009, Baccarat has been more impacted as well. I think today we are a little bit better, thanks to the positioning in markets like China and other BRICS countries. In Russia, I think we’ve achieved a lot. In the Arabic countries where we have significant growth plans as well. These kinds of elements make us a little bit less dependent on what’s happening in Europe right now. The U.S I have to say is performing quite well. They seem to get out of the crisis situation. As a French brand there is no way around being exposed to France. In France, I think we have the most democratic customer base as well. So  internationally we have really many elites customers, from very rich to super rich consumer group, however, in France, we are much more democratic.

 D: Since you talk a lot about the France, you are considered to be the ambassador of the French know-how, but you also have competitors like other French Houses. What make you so particular among other French Houses?

L’Interview Très Stratégique de Markus Lampe, CEO de Baccarat

ML : Well, I think they are not really competitors. They are in terms of what we try to combat. We are a brand that primarily using crystal, but we don’t see ourselves just as a crystal brand. We see ourselves as a lifestyle brand and want to convey that much more in the future we will have many more products that are not just based on crystal. There are not many brands that have this as the starting point, from heritage to a material or a story to tell. That’s why it’s hard to say who are the competitors when I’m asked. Lightening is an example, chandeliers I think we are very unique. If somebody wants to have the ultimate chandeliers, well is Baccarat, I don’t think there is anything else. There are many brands, but we’re the only one having been there for 250 years. And having this kind of craftsmanship going into it with such a recognizable design language. So it’s really a style that conveying the uniqueness.

 D: So what is your brand positioning ?

ML : On one hand, we revolve around the art. Art is really an essential element of the brand, and I need to explain why we say Art. Because as I started with 250 years of French culture itself is already an art statement, the same as the expressions of products of each time, each style and period. We have been there prior to French revolution and we are still there. A lot of things changed by the expression of designers each time. What the lifestyle is? Could be the evolution of Baccarat and that’s art for me. That’s why the brand has always been modern and still very historically linked. The second element about the heritage is about 250 years and anything related to that. Virtuosity is a word I like to explain the craftsmanship and savoir-faire that is unique to the brand. We have the highest number of talented craftsmen who are really certificated by the state. It’s a true French culture element. It is a pride to have the highest number of certificated craftsmen than any luxury brand, and we want to maintain that prestige. Thirdly, we have been serving the royal courts worldwide: residential palaces, Maharaja and Czars, they all have our products and still, it is really the products to be used as a gift by states. Extravagance and Glamourness, there are these kind of surprising elements. The brand should always surprise and should never be dull or antique.

L’Interview Très Stratégique de Markus Lampe, CEO de Baccarat

Even if we have historical pieces we try to give it a twist and moreover, celebration is the core of each of our product. If you look on our webpage, you will find these moments of the celebration. People being together celebrating the special moments or even you by yourself, enjoying a moment in a very particular way, so this kind of elements will describe what the brand is and the brand values that really define how we go forward. From the positioning, if you look at the price points and craftsmanship to the royal court. It has been quite likely that the court told you what kind of style they want to have in their environment and that’s true for the history of the brand that we have been catering to the Maharaja, which had completely different style from the Russian Czars. I think there is nothing wrong with it, on the contrary, I think it is a strength that brands can cater to those different environments. But when we come to the future, I think the Baccarat, as a brand will take this strong position again. During the 1920’s to the 1950’s, we had an art director named ¨ Chevalier¨ who with a strong vision of what the brand stand for. Today we’re in the situation that we have hired a creative director to take this position.

D : The House is both creator and provider( for perfume brands for instance) is that a weakness or a strength ? Which brands are you working with?

L’Interview Très Stratégique de Markus Lampe, CEO de Baccarat

ML : Is it a weakness or strength ? I think the combination make perfectly sense to have the possibility to invite so many design talents including young students, and we also have collaboration with young artist from design schools. And if you ask me which brands we are proud of having collaborated with? Well, we have been working with the most antique perfume makers like Gala for Dior from the 1940’s to today. And many other brands like Givenchy is also a good example. We have a whole collection of such unique pieces that have been done with those beautiful brands. And in those cases, we are really providing the craftsmanship and this certainly define the design.

D : In your new website experience, why didn’t you showcase the know-how of the house ?

ML : One answer is because it is not finished yet! Actually it is always something we have to develop further. To be honest, the answer really is we don’t have the overall experience on the web, as we want to have it. The element still missing that will be exactly part of it in the future.  There is already a video made by the blogger ¨James Bort¨ about the factory on the website, which we can see the craftsmanship going into the products.


Baccarat « House of Crystal » by James Bort from James Bort Factory on Vimeo.

But clearly it’s not enough, so you are absolutely right. It is one part we are really missing that is the experience. In the future, we may display the history of France (French revolution) and how it influences the creation of Baccarat. That’s the kind of things we want to add. Not only say we want to sell on the website or e-commerce site but also we want to tell a story. We want the whole combination, and there are not many brands that can do that. Our aim is to tell the story of our brand, rather than quick sale.

D : Why have you decided to rebuild the digital identity ?

ML : First certainly, there’s no way to lose the possibilities that you have with all the medias and possibilities involving consumers and if you take again the emerging markets we would not have any other way to reach out so many consumers if we are not in digital media. We certainly like the idea of having moving pictures and the possibility to update the stories. To convey stories in a much more lively way, I mean if you look at our webpage, is more like a blog or a lifestyle magazine. So we try to really have updated content all the time, and I mean online you can do that, but offline is just not possible for us. Then engage consumers, recognition for the achievements and become part of a global lifestyle. And have more Western style feelings of our consumers where they invite their friends and celebrate their achievements. The digital presence enables us to promote the French 《savoir-faire》. So for me, I think that culture of France is still one of the top references worldwide about what people finally want to achieve and be part of. That’s why I think there is a huge strength about it, which Baccarat is so much part of it. Just an example, we decided to invest further in France and build another place in order to have more possibilities to develop even more products. Well, is a brave decision for a company to invest in France only and to make sure all the products have been made in France, considering the economic environment. But we still thinking is such an important statement for Baccarat to say we have been French; we will be French in the future. And you can trust this element of being there. 

D : Do you mean the new French government policy can be the weakness for the luxury industry ?

ML: I think it is a challenge for European companies to stick to the rules and not follow the temptation of finding the places to produce the products cheaper. That’s certainly true to France and any place the cost of labor are increase, so it is really the overall environment of the country on how increase your manufacturing activities. But I think it’s mostly about not falling into the temptation of just go to a place where you can manufacture cheaper. So we want to make sure that we have the highest quality, no where else have the same craftsmanship.

 D : Could you explain the place of the ¨crystal room¨ in the Baccarat brand experience?

L’Interview Très Stratégique de Markus Lampe, CEO de Baccarat

ML : This is quite important from the perspective that experiencing our product is an essential element. There is no better way to get excitement about the product than really being very close to them or even take them into your hands. If you have a court glass in your hands, which has a hundred and seventy years of history, then you look at the cut, you will see the clean crisp reflections. All of that is a true moment. I think everybody who has a dinner and has such a glass in his or her hands, and then they will look at Baccarat in a different way. Having the comparison with the star chef experience, and we are certainly very happy having the chef Guy Martin for this Maison. So you have the outstanding experience of your dinner, at the same time the product be served in. In general, we are going to the direction of creating more lifestyle experience, that’s why hotels will be part of our offering in the future.

L’Interview Très Stratégique de Markus Lampe, CEO de Baccarat

We will have our first hotel opening in 2014 in New York. It will be near the Moma museum is the 53st street. So this is another way of really having consumers involve with the brand. I’m a strong believer in involving consumer to have the experience with the brand in an entertaining way.

 D : Do you think Digital can be a place where the creativity stands out ? How does the Baccarat brand use this creativity to reinvent itself?

ML : If I look at the wedge of the media, and if you look at how many smartphones are out there. It is certainly changing everything for everybody. A few years ago you have a suspicion that something in the future might happen. Well, it’s right now. So it’s already happening. How can it revolutionize? All the attempts of really engaging consumers becoming product design, getting quick feedback and collecting the information of consumer behavior. We invented business models and distribution channels, so ask ourselves what will be the distribution in the future? What will be the role of the flagship stores? Where is your digital presence? There are examples already for flagship online that are much bigger than any offline activity. So it’s sure that change everything. For Baccarat, we are a small company and we have to make our selections. That’s why I’ve explained earlier we wanted to make sure about the right brand experience online. Certainly there is a fantasy to be much more prominent distribution channel perspective. I think there is a convenience factor. If I take a simple example, we offer wine glasses. If you break wine glass, what’s easier than just press a button of webpage saying please replace then you can get it. I mean things like that are simple things, like how we could simplify and make it convenience for consumers to get replacement of products.

For us at Baccarat, Creativity is a motto, and moreover in our digital minded world.

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