Luxury brands seen to be conservative

13 April 2012

PARIS: Companies in the luxury sector are seen as embodying especially conservative values by French shoppers, who also typically regard the majority of brands in core categories as meeting this definition.

Nomen International, the naming consultancy, polled 963 internet users, asking them to place members of the technology, luxury, clothing, retail, consumer products, cosmetics and services industries on the political spectrum.

Products perceived as being on the "right" were linked with traits like "firmness", "authority", "discipline" and "individualism" among participants in the survey.

By contrast, their competitors described as leaning towards the "left" were characterised as demonstrating values such as "solidarity", "generosity" and "tolerance".

Many big players in the technology industry, including IBM, the business services giant, Microsoft, the IT group, BlackBerry, the smartphone made by Research in Motion, and Apple, the electronics pioneer, were all pegged on the right.

This represented a wider trend, given that far more goods and services providers were afforded the same status, a trend which was especially pronounced for energy and luxury brands.

"Take away the luxury brands which are clearly on the right, and have to be there, being on the right is not a very good place for a brand," Marcel Botton, CEO of Nomen International, told the Wall Street Journal.

"Probably, the consumer makes a connection between being on the right and making a lot of profit. Making a lot of profit does not have a very good perception in France. It has something a bit dirty about it."

Social networking platforms like Facebook and Twitter were handed a position broadly in the centre of this spectrum, according to the analysis.

Vélib, a low-cost public bicycle sharing scheme in Paris created by JCDecaux, the outdoor advertising specialist, was rated as the most left-wing brand overall.

Free, the mobile phone network run by Xavier Niel which offers "all-you-can-eat" subscription plans for competitive prices, assumed this role in the technology category, ahead of YouTube, the video site.

"There is a connection between the amount of effort brands make to have followers, and the leftish perception of the trademark," said Botton.

"When the brand seems to be very close to the consumer and appears as defending the consumer, then it appears to be more leftish."

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal; additional content by Warc staff