Coach Inc.: From Staid to Stylish

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Case Details:

Case Code: BSTR235
Case Length: 24 Pages
Period: 1941-2006
Organization: Coach Inc.
Pub Date: 2006
Teaching Note: Available
Countries: USA
Themes: Corporate Strategy and Differentiation
Industry: Textile, Apparel, and Accessories

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

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Creating A New Coach

Despite earning a good reputation for the quality of its products, over the years Coach had lagged behind its competitors on the 'trendiness' dimension. The company had built its reputation on classic designs in elegant styles, because of which its main customers were older women who gave precedence to quality over fashion...

Coach's Product Strategy

From its inception, Coach's product strategy was to produce timeless, classic pieces which would not be subject to the vagaries of fashion.

In keeping with this strategy, Coach generally did not change its designs to suit the trend of the moment.

Because of this, Coach's leather goods were identified with classic and elegant designs, rather than being known as fashionable.

However, despite staying away from fashion trends, what set Coach apart from its competitors was that it offered durable and functional handbags in superior quality leather. It was said that the average life of Coach handbags was around 15 years, and when maintained well, they could last well up to 40 years. Coach also offered lifetime service to its customers. The company offered repair services and also replaced some parts of Coach products for free, with the customer bearing only the shipping cost...

The 'Accessible' Luxury Brand

In addition to product innovation, one of the major factors that contributed to Coach's success was its unique positioning in the high-end luxury market. Coach's products were known for their high quality, but were priced lower than other designer products.

In other words, Coach positioned itself as an 'accessible luxury brand.' Frankfort and Krakoff understood that price was a source of competitive advantage for the brand, and maintained the same positioning even in the early 2000s...

Image Makeover

In the late 1990s, Frankfort and Krakoff undertook an extensive image building exercise for the Coach brand. As the creative director of Coach, Krakoff was responsible for overseeing the 'creative side' of activities like advertising, catalogs, direct mail, store design, visual, and public relations...

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