(16 Nov 2015) LEAD IN:
Despite economic downturns in recent years, global luxury brands have staying power.
But what is it about a brand that keeps it at the top of its game?
While luxury products might not be within everyone's reach, it seems their reputations remain strong.
Brand value for the world's top seven luxury companies totals a collective 68 billion USD this year and most of them continue to grow.
Interbrand last month released its 16th Annual Best Global Brands rating, that ranks the top 100 companies for brand value.
Of the luxury brands in the ranking it said fashion house Louis Vuitton was number one.
But it was the number two - Hermes - that has gained the most.
That is because the French company had the greatest growth in brand value, jumping 22 per cent over the past 12 months.
All luxury companies - except Gucci, in third position - experienced increases in brand value in 2015.
The fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh top luxury brands were respectively Cartier, Tiffany & Co., Prada, and Burberry.
Emily Grant, Director of Strategy for Interbrand, says brand value strength allows a company to better grow its business.
Grant agrees the big story is Hermes, that jumped up 14 spots in the ranking from last year.
"They were actually the only luxury brand among the top rising brands this year," she says.
Hermes came fourth out of all of the top fastest rising companies by brand value. That rating saw Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Hermes and Nissan come first to fifth, in that order.
Hermes is now number 41 of all brands by brand value, up from 46 last year.
Robert Ross is a Partner and Creative Director for the marketing firm at Ross/Madrid Group, Inc., based in Los Angeles, that helps clients position themselves in the global luxury market.
Ross says luxury brands need three things to survive: high quality, authenticity, and adaptability.
"Quality in manufacture, quality in materials, a luxury brand though has to be more than just that. A luxury brand has to be authentic. In other words, it has to have some authentic vision that goes back to the beginning," says Ross.
"If you look at Hermes for instance, established in 1837, or Rolls Royce, the first car was built in 1906, these are brands that go back a long way and they've been true to their vision all along. However, they are also extremely adaptable. They adapt with the times so along with being authentic, they're trendsetting. They're brands that can be relied upon by their customers to always deliver something that's innovative, not imitative."
Publicly traded Hermes is currently valued at over 40 billion USD.
Business keeps growing for its furniture, decorative items, and tableware, and its new womenswear line by designer Nadege Vanhee-Cybulski, the first female ready-to-wear designer at Hermes in two decades.
Of course, spending on such brands can be a big financial outlay.
Trey Lozes, a salesman from Texas, says purchasing such expensive products should be done cautiously.
"To me, spend within your means and if you can afford to shop retail with the top designers, shop retail with the top designers but don't go into debt to try to keep up with other people. Live within your means and enjoy what you can afford," he says.
Amanda Parker, a weight loss surgeon from Texas, says spending on luxury goods is fine occasionally.
"I think that sometimes we'll want to actually spend money they have on things they want to spend money on so if you want to buy a purse for yourself or your significant other, that's okay. Maybe we should be spending it on other things, but occasionally it's okay to indulge."
But Ross says luxury brands are doing well considering the competition from other types of firms.
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