Pierre Cardin Tablet

This edition of WTF Wednesday concerns the ever-popular topic of brands branching out way beyond their core competencies. Case in point, Pierre Cardin, the European luxury goods label, has debuted a tablet PC, presumably to capture the super-niche market of technology adopters who are too posh to be seen with an iPad.

The trouble here is two-fold. First, and most obviously, Pierre Cardin doesn’t have the reputation for electronics or computing. Establishing credibility in those sectors is difficult, and often requires years of steady delivery. Similarly, well-known electronics firms — even the likes of Sony or Panasonic — can fall from grace in no time flat when something goes wrong in their supply chair or management, or when a decision is made to cheap-out on customer service, in the case of, say Dell. In this case, it’s even worse because Cardin doesn’t make the components or the operating system — it’s just the shiny packaging at the very end of the chain. So imagine, if you will, a potentially rotten orange, but in a really nice wrapper. Would you buy that?

Second, the truth about tablet PCs is that no one in the first world really gives a crap. The consumer who can afford Pierre Cardin products, and who are even aware of the brand, can likely afford an iPad and would desire one. It is, after all the true leader in this category. Going one step further, and following the logic of Jeff Jarvis, you could say there is no such category as Tablet PCs; there’s simply iPads and iPad wannabes. So why would a brand jump on the rickety competitor to the iPad band wagon? After all, if they just want to wrap the thing in leather, why not team up with Apple? We’ve seen the solid gold iPhone, remember?

The lesson? Well, you can probably say it with me, brands need to stay within their core competencies and deliver on their expertise. Brand extensions need to happen in very small increments, borrowing skills and experience from what they know and what their customers can trust. Going after the latest hotness can result in damage to the brand, which is much harder to repair than simply listing is loss on an annual report.

via UnBeidge »