How did your company perform in 2018 and what are your expectations for 2019? (no specific financials – only general terms)
I am very happy with the performance of Maison Boucheron over 2018 and the beginning of 2019. We are in the midst of an ambitious 5-year plan, the culmination of which was our 160th year anniversary in 2018, which we celebrated with three highlight events. In January, the Vendôrama show at the Monnaie de Paris [Paris Mint]; in July, the launch of the Nature Triomphante collection and its Eternal Flowers; and a brilliant end to the year with the reopening of our family Maison, the Hôtel de Nocé, located at 26, Place Vendôme. At the same time, we have recently launched a new global communication platform and we are also strengthening as a brand across the world, in particular in Asia.
How has your approach towards product development changed (if in any way) in recent years? Are there any specific trends you could highlight? Is there a specific product or collection which you consider as a ‘best seller’ because of how the design is recognisable from distance?
The Maison’s iconic piece is the Quatre ring. It embodies the incredibly strong identity codes of the Maison Boucheron: The Grosgrain symbolises the childhood of our founder, Frédéric Boucheron, who was born into a family of clothiers, the Clou de Paris evokes the cobblestones in the Place Vendôme and the Double Godron illustrates the eternal link uniting Frédéric Boucheron and his wife Gabrielle. The Quatre ring is our current best-seller. This ultra-graphic collection is aimed at both men and women.
We have a second highly aesthetically identifiable icon in the Serpent Bohème collection, the first piece of which dates from 1968. This collection is a stylised version of the famous serpent necklace which Frédéric Boucheron presented to his wife Gabrielle.
The Jack de Boucheron collection is the absolute essence of our brand DNA; it is the emblem of free spirit, as jewellery which celebrates the art of ‘multi-wearing.’ Its ultra-graphic clasp is inspired by a jack cable, a connection element which allows the pieces to connect to each other in a multitude of ways, offering any number of possibilities.
A bracelet, a necklace, it is all and any of these. It is, in fact, an unidentifiable piece of jewellery which may be worn in multiple ways – as a key chain, a belt, or hair jewellery for example – depending on your mood and the parts of your personality which you choose to express.
We have invented something unheard of in the world of jewellery. Boucheron has always been a highly innovative Maison. The Jack de Boucheron pieces are the symbol of a rebirth in the way to wear jewellery; they offer every woman the potential of taking jewellery and using it to express her individuality, and most of all, to suit it to the various facets of her life. We have brought a new product offer to market.
We offer various casual pieces, such as those in the Serpent Bohème colour collection; jewels which are not investment pieces in terms of expenditure, which may become pieces worn daily and may be accumulated. At the same time, we are also developing high jewellery, with clients who are increasingly younger and independent, who wish to purchase for themselves pieces with incredibly beautiful stones, or iconic products such as our Point d’Interrogation [Question Mark] necklace.
Designed by Frédéric Boucheron in 1879, it has become a societal phenomenon. This new asymmetrical design without fastening had an unprecedented modernity. It winds round the neck, assisted by invisible springs, in one simple movement. Women no longer needed help to adorn themselves in their jewels, and from that moment onwards Boucheron became the jeweller of free women.
To what extent consumers are still regarding jewellery as an investment?
Even if more affordable jewellery is close from a style object, any piece of jewellery comprises precious materials, gold and gemstones; it therefore intrinsically retains an investment value. It is a product created for eternity; jewellery is not thrown away, but is handed down. Jewellery indeed has an inherent role of investment. This becomes increasingly evident when we move up the range to the purchasing of high jewellery, as there is always a double purchase factor: emotion and investment. This can be seen in the value of resale of pieces at auction, where the Boucheron brand is currently excelling, particularly Frédéric Boucheron’s designs, which are incredibly successful.
Neither should we forget that jewellery is considered a decorative art, and as such, may be found in museums. It therefore also has a historic and patrimonial value.
What is your approach towards e-commerce?
E-commerce is absolutely essential. Not necessarily because of the volume of business that it may represent, but because it is a service which we must offer to our clients in the real world. In 80% of jewellery-purchasing experiences, the client will visit the website, even if he does in fact choose to buy in a boutique. The client switches between offline and online during his entire purchasing journey; e-commerce is therefore necessarily a part of brand development. Contrarily to what may be heard or read, I do not believe that e-commerce will kill the physical boutique; quite the opposite. As e-commerce develops, the boutique will become increasingly important, because the client is beginning to expect a lot more from it. They wish to live an experience, and the boutique is not merely a place for making a purchase.
Is traditional retail such as mono-brand stores an important retail channel for your brand?
We are a retail-oriented Maison. As explained, in the context of e-commerce development, the boutique is becoming increasingly important.
This is also why we have renovated the Hôtel de Nocé, to make it possible for our clients to have incredible experiences. More than a simple point of sale, 26 Place Vendôme is the anchor point of the Boucheron Family Maison traditional professions. We undertook a historic and patrimonial renovation of the entirety of the Hôtel, our aim and desire being that the interior design should mix styles and eras, just as if every generation had left its personal mark there. Secondly, I wanted an apartment that was accessible to ‘friends’ of the Maison. They will be able to relax there, even spend the night.
Since my arrival, I have also developed a new retail concept, inspired by the typically Parisian architecture of the Hôtel de Nocé, which is now being deployed all over the world. I wanted to ensure that each boutique is welcoming and unique. The VIP reception rooms are themed, decorated with designer objects, vintage furniture and creations taken from our archives, so that our clients may experience unique impressions from all 4 corners of the world. A new jewellery experience very specific to the Maison.
How has been social media improving and/or challenging your business?
When I arrived, there was no dedicated social media budget. In the space of 3 years, we have completely digitalised all our communication. In terms of this digitalisation, the most important part has been social networks, because they make it possible for us to tell stories, and to explain who we truly are. In certain countries, this method is almost the only way today of bringing depth to the brand and bringing it to life in contemporary times.
Which are your biggest international markets? Do you plan to expand in any specific country/region?
Our original bastion is Europe, and we also have great image and have been well-known for a long time in the Middle East. The first international country into which we developed was Japan, where we arrived in 1973. Japan is an incredibly important market for the Maison. Our priority in geographical expansion today is China and APAC, where we have recently opened a very large number of boutiques.
We work more by nationality than by region. A large part of our business is carried out with tourists who travel. It is not enough to be very strong locally; it is also important to have good international visibility, as a large number of purchases are made by tourists abroad.
What is the returning customer profile of Boucheron?
The majority of our clients are female. The Boucheron woman is distinguishable by her ability to own her convictions, and her self-assuredness, which allows her to choose the jewellery which will express her uniqueness, her singularity and her personality.
Frédéric Boucheron said “I assume nothing; I suggest.” He has always placed woman at the centre of his approach and created pieces for them. Our clients come to us for ultra-personalisation, and do not want to possess merely an object of power, of status, but a piece which describes who they are.
Overall, our clients are young, because they come to Boucheron for the first time after a marriage proposal. A large part of our turnover comes from millennials.
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