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“Perlée: Building a Brand Icon”

Company History

Van Cleef & Arpels was founded in 1906 by Alfred Van Cleef and his wife Estelle Arpels when they opened one of the first jewelry boutiques on Paris’ historical Place Vendome—headquarters of the Maison to this day. Since the beginning, Van Cleef & Arpels has developed a reputation for technical mastery behind the creation of its precious jewelry and timepieces, coupled with a lyricism of design that is the Maison’s signature. With a history of dressing royalty and longstanding ties to the visual and performing arts, Van Cleef & Arpels’ storied heritage is a vital essence of the brand and continues to inspire collections today. The Maison presents a new high jewelry concept annually, with one-of-a-kind pieces starting at $100,000, alongside it’s perennial fine jewelry collections and timepieces. Van Cleef & Arpels retails exclusively out of its boutiques worldwide. The company was purchased by the Richemont group in 2000.

The Challenge

The objective of this project was to develop a strategy to elevate the status of the Perlée collection to become one of the iconic pillars of Van Cleef & Arpels. Of the perennial collections, Alhambra currently represents the most recognizable style, as well as an entry into the world of the brand via an accessible starting price point, that is mirrored by Perlée. With this as a benchmark, the task was to develop a marketing program via a process of competitive and consumer research, creative ideation and innovative applications, to build the visibility, prestige and desirability of the Perlée collection, targeting new and existing clients.

“Perlée: Building a Brand Icon”

The team from Parsons and Columbia Business School developed a marketing and clienteling strategy for Perlée, supported by the development of digital and in-store tools to engage customers and convey the inspirations, heritage and craftsmanship behind the collection.

To build an informed foundation for relevant and innovative ideas, the team engaged in extensive research of competitor fine jewelry brands’ product offering, store experience, advertising, websites, social media channels and recent events. An understanding of Van Cleef & Arpels—the brand and company—was established via independent research and engagement with sales associates and in-house executives. Consumer perceptions of Van Cleef & Arpels in North American was surveyed and further documented via a focus group, with particular attention given to millennial consumers as a target for new customer acquisition.

The findings from this research pointed towards a strategy that would highlight the value of the intricate technique required to hand-make each spherical bead and the qualities of perfection embodied in each Perlée piece. Also important was a focus on creating engaging and relatable experiences for the customer, via ongoing touch points and access to the world of Perlée. Based on this, recommendations included a nationwide ‘Mastery & Perfection’ campaign of gourmet tasting events in collaboration with renowned chef Daniel Boulud, visual merchandising proposals for in-store including interactive digital installations, and a virtual club and tiered concierge service for valued Perlée clients, managed within a creative and content- rich mobile app environment.

The Team

  • Sara Amrani, Columbia Business School, M.B.A.

  • Saakshi Muralidhar, Parsons The New School for Design, B.B.A (Design & Management)

  • Fiona Mackay, Columbia Business School, M.B.A.

  • Norma Chan, Parsons The New School for Design, M.F.A (Design & Technology)

  • Gina Wu, Columbia Business School, M.B.A.

  • Hayoung Yang, Parsons The New School for Design, B.B.A (Design & Management)

  • Lynn Xue, Columbia Business School, M.B.A.

  • Linda Zhuo, Parsons The New School for Design, B.F.A (Fashion Design)