Mauboussin, after a successful rebound in France and other countries around the world, had revenues of E69 million in 2012 – compared to E12 million in 2002 when Alain Némarq took over one of the world’s most prestigious jewelry houses and modernize it with new product and new marketing initiatives. At first, it was not obvious that Némarq was the man for the job at Mauboussin coming from his fashion industry experience, but he had fresh ideas. Mauboussin became profitable in 2006 with ideas that Némarq implemented that included a very revolutionary advertising strategy: advertising in the Paris metro stations to grab the attention of every demographic level.
Points of sale increased to 150 stores and boutiques. In 2012, Mauboussin was selling more than 90,000 pieces of jewelry and 20,000 watches per year, along with licensed products such as perfume, pens and sunglasses. The company had 200 employees, and it seems that Némarq had worked his miracle, even opening the five-story boutique in New York on Madison Avenue in 2008 the week after the disastrous financial crisis hit. Fast forward to 2013 when the US market proved him wrong and brought a bittersweet finale to Mauboussin in the US.
A New Positioning Strategy
Némarq positioned Mauboussin that the jeweler embrace an approachable, decently priced, and fashionable style. Némarq was convinced that the luxury consumer had changed and was now looking for value and that French women were more becoming more independent and who bought fashionable luxury jewelry to indulge themselves with. They did not need to wait for a man to offer them a piece of jewelry. They needed a brand to express these values and Mauboussin could do that. In Némarq’s mind, this new mix of modernity, independence, and affordability was precisely what would draw customers to Mauboussin. The high-end jewelry brand had to become “a house open to all women of the new century” and be positioned as a “high fashion jeweler.”
Breaking with the traditional industry codes, Némarq decided to advertise Mauboussin jewelry on buses, on Paris’s subway system and on prime-time television shows. Out of respect for its customers and to demonstrate the new affordability of its products, Mauboussin decided to systematically display prices in ads and in store windows. To promote the brand and its three annual collections, 12% of revenue was invested in advertising (compared to an estimated 6% by competitors). The most successful launch was Premier Jour [First Day] and its name refers to the most incredible and amazing love as in “You are the first day of my life.” The goal was to sell and sales increased from 60 pieces per month to 300 pieces per week.
Another characteristic of Némarq’s product lines was that they were renewed three times faster than competitors’. These lines were meant to attract people from all income brackets, but targeted people who wanted something different yet stylish and of high quality. In terms of pricing, items started at about $390.
Moving to Madison Avenue Where Manhattan's Wealthy Shop
Despite all the success in France, Mauboussin failed to achieve long term success in the US. In 2008, the five-story boutique opened, designed by David Rockwell and accompanied by dramatic advertising that was brash and bold like it was done in Paris. The quality of the manufacturing remained highly sophisticated, but as soon as they stopped advertising, sales started to stagnate. Mauboussin created a much needed buzz along the very jaded Madison Avenue. At that period, jewelry sales were plummeting and all jewelers on Madison Avenue were really concerned. It was certainly not the best time to launch a new brand in the US, but no one saw the crisis coming.
Despite all these efforts, and despite the fact that Mauboussin’s affordable prices were displayed in the windows, the store did not perform as expected. In 2011, with the objective of increasing traffic, the boutique was redesigned by French architect Régis Péan to reflect the “joie de vivre” associated with Parisian café society and nightlife with graffiti paintings on the bare brick walls and in the elevator. Némarq wanted the store to be more inviting, to encourage people in. The second floor was designed to be an art gallery to draw more people inside.
Then, Francois Payard, a famous pastry chef, leased and installed a chocolate bar on the fourth floor of the boutique. All in all, there was a lot of positive chatter about Mauboussin," added Kellogg. In September 2013, Isabelle Kellogg was hired to handle PR for Mauboussin and to help boost the brand in NY. Her budget was limited but she strived to regain the attention of the press who were very eager to come back and see what novelities Mauboussin had created. A significant amount of press was generated in a very short amount of time but without an advertising campaign to support the PR efforts, the brand was not able to attract enough clientele to justify the six-floor boutique. Among many placements she achieved, this one with the BFMTV (French business TV) is very detailed. In 2014, Némarq came to the conclusion that the Madison Avenue store had to be closed and started looking for a brand to take over the expensive lease. "It was with great sadness that we announced to the press and our loyal clientele that the boutique was closing the end of May, 2014,” commented Kellogg. “I still believe New York has great potential for Mauboussin and I hope the brand will return to the US."