EDHEC Research on Sustainable Luxury

You will find below the abstracts of all articles I published on sustainable luxury and sustainable beauty which I present during the course on Sustainable Luxury. You will find them all on EDHEC databases. Of particular interest to the discussion on PETA’s actions against DKNY, please read the article Victoria’s Dirty Secrets in Journal of Advertising.

CERVELLON, Marie-Cécile & CAREY, Lindsey, “Sustainable, Hedonic and Efficient: Interaction effects between product properties and consumer reviews on post-experience responses”, European Journal of Marketing (2014), Vol 48, Issue 7/8, pp.1375-1394

Abstract “This paper aims to investigate the influence of consumer reviews on the evaluation, post-experience, of products with a combination of sustainable, hedonic and utilitarian properties. […] Findings show consumers are significantly less influenced by reviews for hedonic products compared to utilitarian products. In particular, they rely on reviews when evaluating utilitarian
ambiguous properties (e.g. anti-aging properties) which they find difficult to judge on their own. Second, consumers are more resistant to the persuasive effect of reviews when the product focus is on sustainable (organic or fair-trade) credentials, in particular when judging ambiguous properties.”

CAREY, Lindsey & CERVELLON, Marie-Cécile “Ethical fashion dimensions: Pictorial and auditory depictions through 3 cultural perspectives”, Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management (2014), Vol. 18 Issue 4, pp.483-506

Abstract “The purpose of this paper is to provide the results of an exploratory study comparing attitudes of young fashion conscious consumers towards ethical fashion in Canada, France and the UK. […] Results indicated that there were notable differences in the perception of ethical fashion between the respondents from these three cultures. In the representation and appeal of this fashion
segment, in terms of its perceived availability, the transfer of meaning connected with the observation of higher price points and in the use of ethical purchases in the fashion arena as an offset or redemption for unethical behaviour in other contexts.”

CERVELLON, Marie-Cécile & SHAMMAS, Lara, “The value of sustainable luxury in mature markets: A customer-based approach”, Journal of Corporate Citizenship (2013), special issue Sustainable Luxury, 52, pp.90-101

Abstract “This paper presents an exploratory research on the value of sustainable luxury across four ‘mature’ cultures: France, Italy, UK and Canada. In order to unravel the deep meaning of sustainable luxury for consumers, we use a visual elicitation technique, the ZMET technique. Our results indicate that the value of sustainable luxury encompasses three categories, socio-cultural values (conspicuousness, belonging and national identity), ego-centred values (guilt-free pleasures, health and youthfulness, hedonism, durable quality) and eco-centred values (doing good, not doing harm). This framework expands Hennigs et al.’s framework which is focused only on luxury as well as frameworks on the value of sustainable goods and services which emphasise the collective dimension, society’s welfare, and often exclude the individual dimension to such purchases. Several luxury values are enhanced through sustainable luxury (durable quality, conspicuousness); other values originate from the sustainable nature of sustainable luxury, such as eco-centred values and some egocentred
values (guilt-free pleasures and health/youthfulness). Our findings indicate
that these values are present across our four samples, yet, with nuances in meaning and different centrality between cultural groups. Individual drivers to the purchase of sustainable luxury might be central in several cultures (Southern Europe) while collective environmental and social drivers might be determinant in Canada and in the UK.”

CERVELLON Marie-Cécile, “Conspicuous Conservation: Using semiotics to understand sustainable luxury”, International Journal of Market Research (2013), Vol 55(5), pp.695-717


Abstract “This paper investigates the meaning of sustainable luxury among the wealthy, who are the primary target group of luxury brands. In doing so, it highlights the interest of using a combination of semiotics tools (Peirce’s and Greimas’ paradigms) to analyse consumers’ discourses. Indeed, understanding the signvalue of a brand in relation to the natural environment and society is Paramount to the development of CSR activities, in order to avoid, on one side, being perceived as greenwashing and, on the other, losing the brand meaning and authenticity. Findings indicate that the luxury clientele opposes ‘ascribed luxury’ (discreet and emphasising traditional manufacturing techniques) to ‘achieved luxury’ (conspicuous and marketed). The contribution of luxury brands to society welfare should be located on a continuum between sustainability in ethos and along the supply chain, and pure philanthropic actions, both being worthy in consumers’ views, and both being expected from luxury brands to different degrees, depending on the brand ascribed or achieved status.

CERVELLON, Marie-Cécile, “Victoria’s dirty secrets: Effectiveness of Green not-for profit messages targeting brands” Journal of Advertising (2012), Vol. 41(4), pp.137-149

Abstract “Donna Karan Bunny Butcher,” “Bloody Burberry”: Not-ior-profit (NFP) campaigns regularly take brands hostage. These shock tactics are meant to bring publicity to targeted companies’ practices that are deemed socially and
environmentally irresponsible. The aim is to coerce such firms into complying with NFPs’ demands, for fear of consumers’ backlash. Surprisingly, there is scant evidence showing the impact of these messages on consumer behavior. This paper examines consumer response to messages targeting brands in the context of the luxury fashion industry. Two experiments, involving repeated measurement and between-subjects message manipulation (framing and target), were conducted. Results show that eco-involvement and product involvement are moderators of consumer response.”

CERVELLON, Marie-Cécile & WERNERFELT, Sophie “Knowledge sharing among green fashion communities online: Lessons for the sustainable supply chain”, Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management, special issue on Green fashion (2012), Vol 16, Issue 2, pp. 176-192

Abstract “The purpose of this paper is to investigate the knowledge content on green fashion and the expectations regarding the sustainable supply chain held by consumers and shared within online communities. In sustainable and eco-sectors, the supply chain is of outmost concern for consumers, as most benefits derived from the eco-purchase are linked to the green and ethical credentials of the supply chain. A netnographic approach is used. Discussions on green fashion
were collected in two green fashion forums over two periods (2007-2008 and 2010-2011) and were content analyzed. Results show a switch in knowledge content between the two periods, from a focus on sustainability to a focus on fashion. Also, there is an evolution in the nature of knowledge content,
being initially subjective and becoming more objective and showing expertise during the last period studied. As the communities gain maturity, members are interested in sharing precise knowledge on a variety of aspects linked to the sustainable supply chain, including fabric, materials, manufacturing
processes, transportation, distribution, and recycling or re-use of fashion items. In addition, the role of the members evolves toward educating newcomers and sustaining the development of the green fashion sector.”

CERVELLON, Marie-Cécile & CAREY, Lindsey “Consumers’ perceptions of ‘green’: Why and How consumers use eco-fashion and green beauty products”, Critical Studies in Fashion and Beauty, special issue on green fashion (2011) Vol 2: 1+2, 77-98

Abstract “The market for green products is expanding worldwide in a variety of industries, such as food, fashion and cosmetics. However, there is little research about consumer behaviour regarding green fashion and beauty, or consumers’ knowledge of green labels and certifications. This article explores these issues through a qualitative research approach, using in-depth interviews and focus groups. Results suggest that consumers do not understand the meaning of all terms and labels used to describe and guarantee green products, such as, for example, eco-labels on organic cosmetics. Regarding the motivation of consumers for consuming eco-fashion and green beauty products, protection of the environment is not a priority. Respondents’ motives for purchasing these products appear to be egocentric and related to health. Also, such purchases constitute a ‘license to sin’: they relieve the guilt of non-environmentally-friendly behaviors. Lastly, motivation for consuming eco-fashion is based on self-expression (mainly a North American motivation) and status display (mainly a continental European motivation). For several continental Europeans, purchasing green products appears to be a new form of conspicuous consumption.”





Roundtable: The Future of Luxury Retail in a Digital World

Great roundtable on June 29th on the Future of Luxury Retail in a digital world organized by Bettina Fröhlich (Luxe Partenaires) at Digital Luxury Meeting 2017: Avak Der Boghossian (Deloitte partner) introduced the market trends of digital experiential and personalization (Deloitte report Global Powers of Luxury Goods 2017,https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/global/Documents/consumer-industrial-products/gx-cip-global-powers-luxury-2017.pdf); Béatrice Querette (Merchanfeeling) provided insights from the field; Hortense Sauvard shared her perspective as a co-founder of OuiAreMakers.com.

Marie-Cécile Cervellon (EDHEC Business School) shared her research outlook on luxury etail and retail: The boundaries between retail and etail are blurred. The customer is the focal point of the omnichannel strategy. On one hand, online brands make their online presentations concrete, tangible and humanized through pictures of human models, zoom on details, 360 spin rotations, videos and the possibility to interact with human advisors. This strategy decreases the perceived risks associated to the online purchase. The chances to purchase online are multiplied by 1.5. The consumer is encouraged to pick up his purchase in the physical store (click&collect), creating traffic to the store and cross-selling opportunities. On the other hand, the digitalization (or phygitalization) of the point of sales is a major stake. From connected windows that allow purchases 24/7 to order and payment through mobile apps, the store becomes a replica of the e-boutique as much as the e-boutique becomes a replica of the physical store. Yet, in this digital world, let us NOT forget the BASICS… the reasons why clients go to the store: living an amazing in-store experience. Particularly the Millennials who will represent 40% of the personal luxury goods market by 2025, look for experiences that they can share. Unfortunately, 1/3 finds monotonous the experience in the store. Even more worrying, the service is bad, to extremely bad, in half of the visits. Our research shows that a young client activates a stereotype which makes him/her an unprofitable potential client and might lead to discriminatory treatments (Cervellon, Poujol and Tanner, 2017). Training to avoid stereotype-based behaviors is key.

What should the Luxury Store of the Future look like? Marie-Cécile said “A DESTINATION in the customer journey, a place for experimentation and a source of inspiration”.





2017 trend: Second Hand Luxury

I was called as an expert on Luxury by British consultants Canvas8 to forecast the most influential trends in consumption over 2017. One of the trends which will shape the future of luxury will be the development of the Second Hand Market. In 2014, Bain&Co estimated the market to be worth EUR16bn, less than 10% of the global personal luxury goods market. Bain&Co calculate a potential 30 times higher with the development of online sales. The new platforms such as InstantLuxe and VestiaireCollective provide consumers security on the authenticity and usage quality of the products purchased, thanks to a team of experts, specialized per product category.

Download Canvas8 report  https://www.canvas8.com/content/2017/01/03/expert-outlook-2017.html

If you want to read about the motivations to purchase vintage luxury fashion versus second-hand luxury fashion:

Marie-Cécile Cervellon, Lindsey Carey, Trine Harms, (2012),”Something old, something used: Determinants of women’s purchase of vintage fashion vs second-hand fashion”, International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management, Vol. 40 Iss: 12 pp. 956 – 974

The summary of the paper “Vintage has been a growing trend in clothing recently, leading to major fashion brands launching collections inspired by vintage pieces or luxury haute-couture houses digging into their archives to revive past designs. Yet, as this market develops, little is known about the profile of the consumer and the motivations to purchase vintage. This paper aims to explore the veracity of a number of assumptions relating to vintage consumption, equating it to the consumption of used, previously owned clothes by nostalgic prone, environmentally-friendly or value-conscious consumers. The results show that the main antecedents to vintage consumption are fashion involvement and nostalgia proneness as well as need for uniqueness through the mediation of treasure hunting. In contrast, second-hand consumption is directly driven by frugality. Eco-consciousness plays an indirect role through bargain hunting. In essence, the thrill of the hunt is present for vintage and for second hand consumption. Yet, while vintage consumers shop for a unique piece with history, second-hand consumers shop for a unique piece at a good price. Additionally, the main characteristics of vintage fashion consumers are a higher level of education and higher income whereas age is not directly related to the purchase of vintage pieces.”

EDHEC Conference: Luxury product presentation online

On Thursday August 25th, Marie-Cécile Cervellon and Marie-Catherine Mars had the pleasure to present their latest research on “The influence of online product presentation” in the Luxury sector, during EDHEC alumni refresher. The conference was followed by a roundtable with Marie Soudré-Richard, EDHEC 1997, talented founder of Little Fashion Galery, now mentoring for start ups in fashion digital retail. Soon to come…the link to the conference, discussion and slides.

EDHEC Research: Synesthesia in luxury

On May 27th, our latest research Cervellon and Mailhos (2016) “The Smell of Words: Stimulating narrative transportation with perfume names” was presented at EMAC (European Marketing Academy Conference) held in Olso (BI Norwegian Business School), Norway. This research deals with synesthesia or the creation of cross-modal, multisensorial stimulation through perfume names. The abstract of the paper: “This paper explores the possibility of creating narrative transportation with perfume names. Current trends in the perfume industry emphasize names suggestive of smell through synesthesia or through narrative structures inviting imagery transportation. This study conducted among French women indicates that creating literal correspondence between a perfume name and its smell is not necessarily the best road to narrative transportation and persuasion. Brand engagement and appeal are higher when consumers are able to project themselves in a rich narrative and imagine living the experience proposed by the brand.”

EDHEC Research: Should luxury be described in concrete language?

On April 8th, EDHEC researchers (Marie-Cécile Cervellon, Marie-Catherine Mars, Virginie de Barnier) presented their paper entitled “Should luxury be described in concrete language?” at the Monaco Symposium on Luxury. The paper tests experimentally how product display and verbal descriptions, such as presenting products using abstract or concrete language, affect online purchases. It explains the psychological mechanisms that are at play when browsing internet for a gift or booking a hotel or a restaurant. In addition to insightful research papers, The Monaco Symposium on Luxury was the stage for business presentations, among others Bentley, L’Oreal luxury division, Jean Patou, Wally Yacht, Air France or Accor.

See the website http://monaco-symposium-on-luxury.com/

Abstract. This research uses the Construal Level Theory framework (Trope & Liberman, 2010) to understand the influence of product description on purchasing luxury vs. accessible products online. In a field experiment, French participants (n = 368) were recruited online, three weeks or three days before Christmas 2014, as they were shopping for a gift. Results show that the nearer the goal (Christmas), the nearer the gift recipient (similar other), and the more distal the product category (luxury), the higher the intention to purchase the product based on detailed product description. In a second experiment, students (n= 353) had to make a choice between two hotels described similarly side-by-side in concrete or abstract language. The chances to choose the concrete description are enhanced the more distal the product category (luxury), the more likely the trip and the more experienced the respondent with booking online luxury hotels. Although luxury brands might enhance brand desirability using allusive or abstract description, our results indicate that detailed and concrete product descriptions might be a stronger factor of sales conversion online.

Stella, Substance with Style

This fall, we will shed lights on British designer Stella McCartney and her beautiful mind. We will discuss the case published earlier this year by Harvard Business School researchers, Anat Keinan and Sandrine Crener. Stella McCartney is a pioneer in sustainable fashion. She is the first and only fashion designer committed in excluding leather, exotic skins and fur in all her collections. The brand ethos is rooted in the protection of the environment. In order to complement the case, watch Stella’s interview during WWD 2009 Fashion/Apparel CEO summit (Youtube video embedded below).

Be prepared to defend your position: is socially responsible luxury an internally consistent proposition or a nice oxymoron? What are the (positive and negative) implications of building a business on values? Are consumers’ motivations regarding sustainable luxury always altruistic?

In order to feed your thoughts, read the articles quoted on p.35-p.36. They will be presented in class:

Achabou, M. A., & Dekhili, S. (2013). Luxury and sustainable development: Is there a match?. Journal of Business Research, 66(10), pp.1896-1903.
Cervellon, M-C & Shammas, L. (2013). The value of sustainable luxury in mature markets: A customer-based approach, Journal of Corporate Citizenship, special issue Sustainable Luxury, 52, pp.90-101

Cervellon, M-C (2013). Conspicuous Conservation: Using semiotics to understand sustainable luxury, International Journal of Market Research, Vol 55(5), pp.695-717

EDHEC Research: Storytelling fosters the dream value of luxury brands

An academic research published in Journal of Business Research this month advances the theory and practice of luxury brand advertising. It is co-authored by Jae-Eun Kim and Stephen Lloyd (AUT University, Auckland, New Zealand) and Marie-Cécile Cervellon (EDHEC Business School, Nice and Lille, France). Luxury clients (n=270) from three countries (France, Korea and Australia) were exposed randomly to global ads from luxury brands.  Through projective techniques, respondents produced narratives which were analyzed with thematic and text analysis. Results indicate that implicit messaging is effective in creating engagement through narrative transportation; however, when the message is explicit and straightforward, it impedes the transportation process and leads to lower engagement across cultures. The authors identify seven dominant themes in the narratives produced by respondents in relation to luxury ads: “1) Status aspirations; 2) Romance, seduction and porn-chic; 3) Involvement with a fantasy world or adventure; 4) Other-directedness; 5) Self-esteem, power and success; 6) Sensory world of beauty, nature, body and feelings; 7) Activation” (Kim, Lloyd and Cervellon, 2015).

“Narrative-transportation storylines in luxury brand advertising: motivating consumer engagement”, Journal of Business Research, 2015 

Download the article (if you are an EDHEC student, you have access through BU Vauban): http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0148296315003392