mini1: Swarovski USB drives @ £100

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Note : Quite often I come across new products, communication campaigns and ideas which elicit a medley of spontaneous reactions like “Interesting idea, maybe they can price it differently, it can be taken forward this way, will benefit from xyz etc”. Starting this week, I will be sharing such thoughts via a “mini” series which will complement the longer “analysis” style posts.  The first “mini” follows,

Philips and  Swarovski have unveiled a range of crystal-studded USB memory keys and headphones at the IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin, last week.

If the blinged out design catches your eye, the price may catch your breath at slightly over $200 per drive. The drives will be sold at Swarovski distributors and come in a jewel box. They come with a cord and can be worn as a necklace. There is a fairly basic dedicated website www.active-crystals.com for the range.

Rudy Provoost, chief executive at Philips Consumer Electronics, explained that the alliance enables Philips to enter the market of “luxurious and fashionable electronic accessories for women. These new products will change the way women interact with innovation and technology”.

My early thoughts:  The core idea- “fashionable electronic accessories for women”-has potential; USB drive price is high given the memory(1GB); in-flight shopping catalog listing and product placement can drive volumes; not a bad surprise gift for your wife/girlfriend especially the headphones; good addition of “style” to Philips’ “sense and simplicity” platform; missed opportunity for SANDISK (global leader in USB drives) to move up the value ladder in an increasingly commoditized category.
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5 responses to “mini1: Swarovski USB drives @ £100

  1. Great idea concept. Now luxuries are finally expanding their hands onto the hi-tech and digital world in 21st century.

    Smart product – both the USB & earphone, more considerable than Prada handset, hundreds of better innovative comparing Gucci mob ropes stuff…

    Pricing is indeed high but deserve a try, since the early buyers of such concept are probably either trend setters enjoying showing-off or affluent husbands with a need to gift

    Kind of expect their marketing platform could be more tech… other than a glaring website to display products and ‘jewellery box’ distributed in-store… hundreds of ideas here to be more interactive, collaborative and innovative.
    Would the luxury step one more ahead, which might better claim ‘the way fashion interacts with technology’ ?

  2. As I was reading this post, it reminds me of a marketing campaign which I involved years ago, which was a co-branding between Swarovski and Li-Ning (The leading sports brand here in China, but obviously inferior to all the international brands, Nike, Adidas, etc in terms of brand imagery and popularity.) Back then, Li-Ning launched some sports clothes with Swarovski crystals on them. Even today, I still doubt it’s a good idea. Li-Ning and Swarovski have quite different brand positioning and the target consumers are way too different. I can understand it could be a very good opportunity for Li-Ning to move up its brand imagery in terms of modernity & fashionable and capture more female consumers. However, I don’t understand why Swarovski would want to co-brand with Li-Ning.

    Similar case could be found in the USB case. The difference is that we can see the brand imagery of Swarovski extended more in the hi-tech sense. As co-branding is so prevailing these years, I’m not sure how we could evaluate the best match of the two brands. In the case of Swarovski and Philips, can I take it as that the co-branding of the two brands is more of a brand image building action while the product itself is not designed to drive any target segment? And then as the brand imagery increases, the volume of the other products of the brand would increase as well?

  3. Interesting first installment to the mini-series 🙂

    This is a pretty good marketing initiative by both brands. Appropriate and appealing brand/ product fit (ie to consumers: “Phillips with its fashionable range” and “Swarovski and its tech range”), especially with the growing purchasing power of the fairer sex all over the world.

    I can’t speak on behalf of all consumers, but this certainly appeal to me and some friends here in China and APAC region despite the price. Most girls love diamonds, and sometimes it’s fun to add a little bling and glitz into our everyday lives (that was most likely the insight).

    Here we see products that fulfill this need, where functionality meets aesthetics- or rather, vice versa. The bonus? The brand names of Phillips and Swarovski.

  4. High street luxury brands know that the way to fuel desire for their products is to accessorize. Not everyone can afford a $1000 dress, but a lot more people would be able to afford a $100 purse. That’s one way of spreading the gospel to the masses, by making it easier to enter into the brand world. This also just whets their appetite in the mean time, while they dream of bigger (and more expensive) acquisitions to come.

    Marrying fashion/luxury brands with high technology is not that new. There is something very sexy about the combination of the two elements. Take a look at Nokia and Prada. Now, Samsung and Armani are getting into bed together. Ferrari (yes, the cars from Maranello are quite high-tech) went with Louis Vuitton. There was more hype about LV than Ferrari when their association was announced– and as one wag puts it, “Buy a Louis Vuitton luggage set and get a free Ferrari”.

    But what I find interesting about the Swarovski/Phillips offering is that it combines luxury and high-tech with strong utilitarian value. I think that helps tip the balance in the final purchase decision. Or at least, it gives the buyer a sliver of justification to splurge GBP100 for a USB drive.

    I wonder what we will see next in the exciting new world of “luxurious and fashionable electronic accessories for women”. Diamond encrusted iPods? Oh wait, they already have that, yours for only USD40,000 (songs not included).

  5. I just had a quick talk with the shop assistant in Swarovski store in Oriental Plaza, Beijing. The crystal USB drive is priced 2100RMB ($280 USD) in mainland China, two different headphones are 1,380 RMB and 1,780 RMB respectively. Products are not available now in the stores which need to be reserved in advance. However, the shop assistant told me that there were many people who already placed the order.

    Based on the information I get from above, it seems that this product which embed hi-tech into luxury accessories is welcomed. However, I have two doubts:
    1. Price: 2,100RMB is expensive although there are some rich ladies in China. I am wondering how many people would spend 280USD to buy a USB drive when normal 1G USB drive is 80 RMB here.
    2. In mainland China, not many choices are offered. USB drive and headphone are only available in silver colour which might dilute the impact of this new product launch. To be honest, for me, blue and pink one are more attractive compared to the plain silver one. So if I would be the consumer who can afford this product, I would buy it abroad, or HK where offer more choices.

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