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Form and function of luxury flagships: An international exploratory study of the meaning of the flagship store for managers and customers

Veronica Manlow (Department of Finance and Business Management, Brooklyn College, The City University of New York, Brooklyn, New York, USA)
Karinna Nobbs (Department: School of Management and Science, London College of Fashion, University of the Arts London, London, UK)

Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management

ISSN: 1361-2026

Article publication date: 22 February 2013

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Abstract

Purpose

Luxury shopping touches upon many facets of experience, ranging from the strategic objectives of the brand to the subjective, interpersonal experiences of individuals. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the flagship's form and appearance: including architecture, decor, arrangement of space, symbolic elements, location, and its function to better understand the role of the aesthetic environment of the flagship as a means of communicating the brand's objectives, which are mediated by a consumer's perception of the brand and store, the goals he or she brings to the experience, and the situational determinants of the shopping experience.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors explore the strategic role and customer experience of flagships in major international locations through interviews with luxury flagship managers and customers. Site visits were made to multiple brands. Ethnographic research on the consumer experience was carried out in two locations of a major brand's flagship store.

Findings

The authors arrive at definite characteristics comprising branding strategies, retail practices, and the consumer experience. The findings contribute to a more comprehensive delineation of the meaning and purpose of luxury flagships.

Research limitations/implications

The exploratory study focused broadly on managers’ views, and on the customer experience of one brand in two major cities. Comprehensive interviews and survey research should be conducted in targeted stores with a focus on customers at these flagships.

Practical implications

The paper yields practical information which can be used by brands to more effectively provide a satisfying customer experience. The paper adds to the empirical research on the aesthetic dimensions of flagship stores, its function in relation to the brand, and the experience it provides customers.

Social implications

This empirical study explores the meaning and usage of branded spaces and retailing strategies to those who experience the environment: managers and customers.

Originality/value

The paper explores the phenomena of the luxury flagship experience along two pivotal points: the point of view of managers who are charged with promoting the goals set forth by the brand and that of customers who experience the luxury environment on their own terms, as well as responding to the sensorial environment they encounter.

Keywords

Citation

Manlow, V. and Nobbs, K. (2013), "Form and function of luxury flagships: An international exploratory study of the meaning of the flagship store for managers and customers", Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management, Vol. 17 No. 1, pp. 49-64. https://doi.org/10.1108/13612021311305137

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited