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Haute Couture to Hot Cuisine: The New Age Experiential Strategy to Win Over the Consumer

From Tiffany & Co. to Fendi, dabbling into the F&B sector has multiple benefits for luxury goods brands. We analyse this strategy which is proving to be a win-win for all people involved.

Louis Vuitton cake

The greatest playwright of all time, George Bernard Shaw, once said, “There is no sincere love than the love for food.” Culinary experiences alongside luxury shopping are the emerging multi-sensory need of the millennials and Gen Z customers. Can gourmet food, haute cuisine, upscale fine dining, and expensive and rare spirits housed and served by a luxury brand enhance buying motivation? Luxury brands certainly think so. Such collaborations create multi-sensory customer interactions leading to memorable buying-induced desires for their core categories.

Say yes, please!

The relationship between style and taste could work because the combination of delectable food and luxury goods aims to provide excellent products, memorable experiences, hedonism, and a compelling story. It creates a communication grapevine matrix and a word-of-mouth spread about the brand. However, it’s not that new. The initial traces were found in 1998 when Giorgio Armani launched the Emporio Armani Caffé in Paris. He wanted a “new concept to offer clients a break from shopping or a place for lunch or a drink after work,” as Mr. Armani told Forbes.

Emporio Armani Caffe Dubai
The Emporio Armani Caffe in Dubai.  

Luxury fashion brands are either getting into the hospitality and restaurant business as an extension by tying up with celebrity chefs, or at least adding a coffee and cocktail bar in their flagship boutiques. Brands want to deepen their customer engagement while offering hospitality concepts. It’s a natural experiential extension for established luxury and fashion brands to influence new purchase motivations.

With Asians proving to be more value-driven, such concepts are being developed more in Asia than in the West. In early 2020, Louis Vuitton was one of the first luxury fashion brands to get off the blocks with their restaurants Le Café V, Ginza, and Sugalabo V in their existing store in Osaka, Japan. In collaboration with Chef Yosuke Suga, customers were served a menu boasting traditional French cuisine with a Japanese heritage weaved around it. Le Café V is a terrace Bar where customers can leisurely spend some extra time while shopping for the brand’s accessories and products.

Louis Vuitton St. Tropez restaurant
Louis Vuitton’s St. Tropez restaurant.  

Expanding its repertoire of culinary offerings, in May 2023, Louis Vuitton, in collaboration with three-star Michelin Chef Yannick Alleno, launched its extravagant airport lounge turned restaurant at Hamad International Airport in Doha. The airport also hosts Ralph Lauren’s Ralph Coffee and a Harrods Tea Room.

Louis Vuitton also opened its first standalone restaurant in Saint Tropez, helmed by Michelin-starred Chef Mory Sacko, to offer a rare gastronomic experience to its customers. The Louis Vuitton signature style can be seen on exterior and interior designs, furniture, and wall décor of the restaurant. This summer, Michelin-starred chef Arnaud Donckele and pastry chef Maxime Fredric have become associated with the Saint Tropez restaurant.

Jacquemas Citron cafe
Jacquemas’ Citron Cafe.  

Louis Vuitton is not the only one with such vast culinary offerings. Christian Dior launched Monsieur Dior, their iconic restaurant, at the 30 Montaigne store in Paris, in 2022. It embodies the French art of living in collaboration with Chef Jean Imbert and Chef Antony Clemot. The menu is designed basis the history and heritage of the maison, including inspiration from the favorite cuisines of the founding father of Dior.

Gucci has made forays into the culinary space too to enhance its brand desirability. The Gucci Osteria, a restaurant in collaboration with Michelin-starred Chef Massimo Bottura, Chef- Owner of Italy’s famed Osteria Francescana, is housed in the iconic Gucci Store located at the historic 14th century Palazzo della Mercanzia in Florence’s Piazza Signoria. Gucci Osteria opened its doors in Los Angeles and Tokyo, followed by the fourth in March 2022 in the Gucci Gaok Store in Seoul.

Prada cafe Harrods
Prada’s cafe in London.

Hermes’ new flagship store at 706 Madison Avenue, New York City, is an 1880 sq. m. four-floor store with a rooftop garden. The store harbors a Coffee and Champagne Bar. The 4th floor houses the brand’s women’s handbags, its signature product category, and a full bar alongside a rooftop terrace. The store is Hermes’ first to have dedicated butler service. So ordering a cappuccino is easy. There are lounge areas to relax and extend your store visit for a while.

Galeries Lafayette’s flagship store in Champs Elysees now includes Jacquemus’ Citron Café. Prada launched a lifestyle pop-up café at Harrods in London with the brand’s signature mint green hue interiors.

One more, please!

Tiffany Blue Box Cafe

The Tiffany Blue Box Cafe in New York.

From haute couture to hot cuisine, luxury fashion brands blend food, art and fashion to deliver the experience of luxury. Luxury brands are using culinary ventures to enhance their brand decibels. These gastronomic experiences not only serve to provide some refreshing respite to patrons as they shop (or travel), but also extend their universe with a promise of the brand’s trademark standards, aesthetics, and values. Its rare spirits, innovative dishes, and interior designs communicate the brand’s heritage and character.

Watch and jewellery brands are not immune to this strategy as well. Tiffany & Co., in its flagship store in Huaihai, China, has the Tiffany Blue Box Café, and the Petrossian at Tiffany & Co. in Costa Mesa, California. The redesigned flagship store of Tiffany & Co. on Fifth Avenue in New York now hosts its Blue Box café on the sixth floor, led by celebrity Chef Daniel Boulud.

Luxury brands’ entrance into the F&B sector is also one way of exposing young consumers to their brand early on. Because if you can’t afford a €1,500 worth handbag yet, you can certainly luxuriate with a €20 Armani Side cocktail. 

Bvlgari an early entrant into the hospitality business, with hotels in Milan, London, Beijing, Shanghai, Dubai, Bali, Paris, Tokyo and now Rome, also has its standalone restaurants in Japan.

Diversification is a huge motivation for brands to dabble into the F&B sector. Just like home and interior business, restaurants come as a natural extension to luxury brands. It helps to have a healthier balance sheet when you have multiple categories of businesses.

Tiffany Blue Box Cafe

The Tiffany Blue Box Cafe in New York.

Breguet, Blancpain, and Jaquet Droz boutiques, way back in 2013, adopted the allied gastronomical experiential route. F.P. Journe has a ten-seat spirit bar called Bar Journe in their store in the Kimpton EPIC Miami overlooking the Miami River. The bar serves some rare whiskeys, vodkas and craft cocktails. Existing and potential customers can enter Bar Journe, look at the watches, and enjoy their favorite cocktails overlooking the waterfront. They invariably end up shopping for an F.P. Journe watch as well.

Customers who visit Panerai’s boutique at 711 Madison Avenue in New York City can browse their iconic timepieces and learn their technical superiority, history, and passion for the sea while leisurely indulging at their Bar Italiano. Their flagship store in Geneva also sports a Coffee and Cocktail Bar.

Rolex opened a 2,153 sq ft area boutique in Lyon, France, in 2022 with leading local jewelry retailer MAIER. The new concept Rolex store includes an exclusive lounge area as well as a bar with drinks and canape finger food.

Bar Journe Miami
FP Journe’s Bar Journe in Miami.

Breitling’s biggest store in the world, in Seoul, also houses a Breitling Café, and its first ever restaurant – Breitling Kitchen. This is in addition to Breitling’s in-store café in Zurich, and a small restaurant & cafe at Jelmoli, a large luxury retail store in Zurich.

British luxury lewellery retailer David M Robinson (DMR) and LVMH will launch a large format joint concept Tag Heuer store in Liverpool in October this year. The DMR flagship store will have a private luxury lounge and bar.

Say cheese, please!

Fashion designer Michael Kors aptly said, “True luxury for me can be caviar or a day with no meetings, no appointments, and no schedule.” Luxury brands’ entrance into the F&B sector is also one way of exposing young consumers to their brand early on. Because if you can’t afford a €1,500 worth handbag yet, you can certainly luxuriate with a €20 Armani Side cocktail.

It’s a perfect situation to be in for the brand, as well as the chefs, sommeliers and cocktail experts involved in the process. 

And with social media continuing to reign, it helps to have your brand images on the feed in various avatars. After all, who can resist posting an LV monogrammed pastry on Instagram or recording a reel at the Fendi’s London café with their signature yellow hue all around?

Chefs, who are celebrities in their own right, get one more laurel on their white coat when they collaborate with a luxury brand. It’s a perfect situation to be in for the brand, as well as the chefs, sommeliers and cocktail experts involved in the process.

Prada Cafe Harrods

American chef and author, James Beard, once said, “Food is our common ground, a universal experience.” Some luxury brands were quick to appreciate and adapt to this emerging communication strategy. Experiential luxury is the new vehicle to enhance buying value motivations. That’s what brands aim to provide to their significant clients when they visit their flagship stores or while traveling and holidaying. The objective is to offer a memorable shopping experience that may transform them into loyal brand followers.

A luxury brand’s gastronomic offerings are an emotionally related extension, where experience is everything. It is an extraordinary way to communicate to luxury customers. It is a delightful, immersive, and unique journey, and the perfect opportunity to not only get the customer back into the store in a post-pandemic world, but also rope in newer customers as the global demography shifts to the younger side.

Jyoti Das watch professionalWith an excellent career record spanning two and a half decades in the lifestyle, fashion, luxury & consumer goods industries, Jyoti Das has worked with reputed companies like Whirlpool, Electrolux, Godrej Appliances & Swatch Group in leadership roles with P&L responsibility. He was the former Business Head – India for Swatch and Calvin Klein Watches and Jewellery. He is currently pursuing a PhD in Luxury Management from Birla Institute of Technology, Mesra and engaged in teaching assignments, industry academia interactions, CAT selection panel for B Schools and a Jury member in B School Case study competitions.