Assessing the Molton Brown brand

Each week in association with retail and marketing consultancy Pragma, MarketingWeek.co.uk looks at a high-profile UK brand, assessing its performance against a range of criteria and offering suggestions to improve its overall score. Marks for each section are given out of five stars, while the overall rating is given at the end of the review.

Brand ****

Molton Brown is an understated, metropolitan luxury brand. It achieves a minimalist look with an ethical stance, using natural and rarefied ingredients in its products. Associations with luxury spas, world-class hotels and British Airways Club World mean product placements have always emphasised the exclusive values of the brand. Molton Brown is positioned as an international traveller’s friend with old-world style and modern presentation. However, its flower motif and varying font sizes on packaging somewhat dilutes brand consistency.

Experience *****

Shopping at a Molton Brown Emprorium is a pleasure. The threshold experience allows you space to take in the subtle scents and enjoy the unobtrusive jazz and invites you to sample the sensually inviting features in-store. Store displays are back-lit, visually relaxing and subtly elegant. Point of sale is informative and classy in thick perspex boxes that are generous and modern. Molton Brown manages the tester experience by providing a stone sink to test hand-washes and body lotions that can be a welcome refreshment to tired city shoppers. However, make–up can be difficult to browse if a makeover is being performed on another customer, and smaller stores can lack space during busy periods and try to sell too much in one space.

Product ****

Personal care products have cleverly themed collections around ingredients, usage and scent. The make-up range does not offer the same innovation in its presentation and contents as that of the bodycare range, and lacks authenticity. Accessories are very expensive compared to the bodycare range, although they can lift the perceived value of the bodycare products.

Value Positioning ***

Molton Brown is not cheap and achieves its luxury positioning through a combination of products, packaging and in-store experience. For online customers, dark brown boxes and ribbons remind them they are buying into a product whose authenticity in the world of luxury is on a par with Tiffany’s signature type-box.

Location *****

Molton Brown is well known and has managed to maintain exclusivity. Instead of opening too many retail outlets, it has grown its volume through a multi-channel approach from corporate (hotel), to online, to airline, to store and in so doing has not over-exposed the brand.

Recommendations

1. Ensure more consistent branding on packaging

2. Give more space to customers and less space to products in smaller stores

3. Introduce an affordable accessories range

4. More airport stores for international flyers

5. Bring innovation and exclusivity to the make-up range

Overall: ****

www.pragmauk.com

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