EDITORIAL: Levi's loses out as discounts put out a mixed message

The battle between Levi-Strauss and Tesco - or between consumer

cheat and consumer champion, as much of the national media would have us

believe - is now moving into stage two.



Following the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruling against Tesco,

there was an immediate flurry of tabloid outrage that 'they' (the

Europeans) had banned 'our' (good honest Brits everywhere) right to

cut-price branded goods (seemingly now a God-given one). One week on,

brand manufacturers and retailers are taking up position, attempting to

maintain the story's momentum in their favour - or where that fails

launching their own marketing communications on the issue.



This week Tesco unveils an ad campaign through Lowe Lintas, boasting

that it will continue to sell discount Levi's sourced legally from

within the European Economic Area. Asda has vowed to battle European

legislation on parallel imports and is adamant it will continue to sell

cut-price French Connection, Nike and Calvin Klein gear.



On the manufacturer side, French Connection has responded by slamming

Asda for selling previous seasons' fcuk merchandise, taking the

understandable line that the out-of-date connection is a damaging one.

Far less understandable is the news that Levi's is to sell more

clothing, more cheaply through its discount outlets.



The logic at Levi's has become seriously twisted. Having put up a

rigorous defence that it has invested heavily in building the quality

promise and desirability of its brand, Levi's is now conceding that

those attributes can be picked up at a knock-down price in one of its

Factory Outlet Stores.



This is precisely the sort of price-meddling that got Levi's into a mess

in the first place. Consumers are not blind to such hypocrisy. A

convincing and consistent argument that a premium and innovative brand

must maintain investment, and consequently a certain margin, would have

been the right line to take.



Instead, Levi's appears to have buckled to media pressure. To constrain

Tesco's ability to sell cheap jeans looks indefensible if Levi's then

broadens the range of discount stock available through its ill-named

Factory Outlets.



It is factory output, poorly controlled, that is one of the root causes

of problematic international price disparity.



There is a strong case to be made for protecting brands from the damage

that opportunistic retailers can inflict - and it is one that Marketing

will continue to make. But the brand defenders are currently losing the

debate. Until they regain control over how and where their products are

distributed, and stop sending mixed messages to consumers, they will

continue to lose.



Discussion

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus
Brand Republic Jobs

subscribe now

Latest

Center Parcs ad banned for encouraging parents to take kids out of school
Coca-Cola, Cadbury and Amazon named top brands for targeting youth market
Leaked document shows Nokia to be rebranded as Microsoft Mobile
Nike lays-off hardware staff in move that casts doubt on future of FuelBand
Greenpeace says save the bees or humans will die
What brands need to know about changes to VAT and online downloads in 2015
Jimmy Savile victims urged to claim compensation in new ad campaign
UKIP launches biggest  ad campaign and stirs up 'racist' accusations
Apple boss Tim Cook provides voiceover on ad touting firm's renewed green commitments
John Lewis walks consumers through its history to celebrate 150 years of business
Waitrose boosts content strategy with 'Weekend Kitchen with Waitrose' C4 tie-up
Hottest virals: Cute puppies star in Pedigree ad, plus Idris Elba and Fruyo
Amnesty International burns candles to illuminate new hope
Toyota achieves the impossible by calming angry Roman drivers
Tom of Finland's 'homoerotic' drawings made into stamps
YouTube reveals user habits to appeal to 'older' marketers
Ex-M&S marketing chief Steven Sharp consulting at WPP
Wolff Olins reveals new CEO after Apple poaches Karl Heiselman
Glasgow offers £30,000 prize to best digital idea for 2014 Commonwealth Games
Google's revenues surge but shares drop as it grapples with transition to mobile
Facebook beats Twitter to most 'marketing friendly' social media site crown, says DMA
Fableists believe children like Finn should be outdoors enjoying life
Homebase, Baileys and Camelot join the line-up at Media360
MasterCard renews Rugby World Cup sponsorship to push cashless message
Lynx unleashes £9m 'Peace invasion' campaign
Social Brands 100 Youth: Pizza Hut most social youth brand in UK
Cheryl Cole is wild and arresting in new L'Oreal work
Morrisons told not to show alcohol ads during YouTube nursery rhymes
O2 head of brand Shadi Halliwell departs after 23 years at company in restructure
Tesco hit by further sales decline as it turns to digital Clubcard and social network