As the term comes to an end, I find it even more crucial (for my sanity at least) to balance my studies with some fun and exploration in Paris. The fresh air and culture helps me avoid getting bogged down by all our reading and group projects. With the many opportunities available, at all levels both price – and time commitment-wise, finding such extracurricular inspiration is easy!
First, I kicked off the holiday season by co-hosting a Thanksgiving potluck with my two fellow American MBAs. I was surprised to learn that it was the first Thanksgiving for many of our classmates and was therefore thrilled to share this tradition with my new “family”. My experience confirms that people from all cultures appreciate a holiday celebrating gratitude and eating too much pie.
Since throwing the party last month, I have also been taking advantage of some special events around town. While not officially related to my coursework, many of these activities have been studies in creative marketing and communication methods in the luxury industry:
Sport – The Gucci Paris Masters, my first horse show, demonstrated how the brand successfully emphasises its equestrian roots and legitimacy. Everything from the main competition to the special Gucci boutique and champagne lounge on site contributed to this high-end, but fun, experience while maintaining equestrianism as a glamorous sport.
Art – Dior recently hosted a free exhibition celebrating the Miss Dior perfume; historic art and dresses revealed the inspiration and heritage behind the perfume while new works by contemporary artists confirmed its enduring relevance and appeal. The Grand Palais also just opened a long-awaited show honouring 160 years of Cartier style and history. Hundreds of haute joaillerie pieces, watches and other glittering objets take guests on a jaw-dropping journey through the maison’s history while reminding us that Cartier truly is the king of jewellers.
Holiday – The City of Lights is even more aglow this time of year thanks to all the festive decorations. While most of the major boutiques have some sort of window or external display, two brands have really stood out this season in terms of creating buzz. Ladurée’s beautiful mini carrousel in the Place Vendôme promotes its Marquis de Ladurée chocolates while delighting both children and the young at heart. I also spotted Tiffany’s Christmas carriage this past weekend while doing some field research for my retail class. Every single well-groomed head on the rue Saint-Honoré turned as the carriage made its way down the street; the surprised gasps and smiles as everyone spotted the signature blue boxes became part of the spectacle. For me, these are two wonderful examples of how luxury brands can woo their fans and keep them dreaming (and buying.)
I am looking forward to drawing upon these, and other, luxury marketing observations in upcoming classes. As I finish wrapping up this term’s final presentations and exams, though, my own Cartier wishes and Ladurée dreams are secondary to my excitement to return home for some much needed rest, relaxation and time with my family before heading into the next phase of my MBA in the new year. Until then, happy holidays!