Coach Inc., with headquarters in New York, is a leading American company offering leather goods and accessories for men and women. Coach was founded in 1941 as a small family business based in a New York loft, and during many years built a reputation for high quality leather bags and accessories. Although Coach was recognized for the quality of its products and its service, it never claimed to be a Luxury brand. From the 1960s to the mid-1970s, under Bonnie Cashin’s Artistic Direction, Coach offered a brilliant mix of fun, fashion and functional handbags and was extremely successful. But by the late 1990s, the brand had lost some of its luster. Many clients turned to European luxury brands like Louis Vuitton or Gucci. CEO Lew Frankfort had the will to turnaround the brand and hired the designer Reed Krakoff. He successfully positioned Coach as a modern American lifestyle brand and launched several new designs. Over the past 10 years, Coach has grown from a $550 million company to a $3.6 billion company with a profit of $700 million. The brand is number one in the US and number two in Japan. This case discusses Coach’s position within the new luxury landscape and its future evolution. More specifically the case discusses (a) how is Coach positioned within the Luxury Industry? What do you think is unique in the evolution of Coach as a brand? (b) How did Coach become such a powerful brand? (c) Comment on the entrepreneurial nature of Coach and its top-management? Why did Coach invest in Reed Krakoff’s eponymous brand? (d) Hailing from the US (unlike most luxury brands), what do you think are the key success factors for Coach to be a luxury brand? (e) Can Coach and the Reed Krakoff brand succeed in Europe? Does it matter?
SOM, A. et MASSON, S. (2012). Coach: to be or not to be luxury? ESSEC Business School.