Not terribly long ago, an array of publications addressed a lessening demand for Hermès' famed Birkin bags. Some of those publications, namely, the Huffington Post, suggested that the Kardashian family's adoption of the once extremely in-demand bag may have played a role in the bag's seeming fall from grace. It makes sense. The bag, which used to require placement on a waiting list in order for the "ordinary" consumer (aka the consumer with $10,000 to spend on a purse) to buy one, has since become quite a bit less difficult to acquire. This must be due, at least, in part, to an increase in production of the bags, coupled with a economic downturn, but it is worthy noting that Hermès is one of the only brands whose sales were not heavily affected by the recession. However, much like Louis Vuitton has come to learn (and subsequently, begin to rebound from), too much of a good thing is ... well, a bad thing. This is especially true for luxury brands, which depend so heavily on the overarching image of exclusivity and unattainability. This was somehow tainted by a Birkin being in just about every frame of all recent episodes of Keeping up with the Kardashians. So, is the same true for Cartier's Love bracelets? Maybe.
It is basically common knowledge that America's first reality TV family (including Mr. Kim Kardashian, whose wrists are pictured above) stacks their arms with the highly coveted Love bracelets. The question is whether such exposure has any affect on the appeal of the bracelets, and thus, their sales? Since Cartier doesn't exactly share this info, we are forced to look to the clues we do have.
We know this: The Kardashians' embracing the screw-on bracelets has certainly caused an abundance of media attention (articles titled: "Kanye West Buys Pregnant Kim Kardashian $65000 Love Bracelets", "Kylie Jenner Rocks $40,000 Of Cartier LOVE Jewelry As Everyday Wear", "15-Year-Old Kylie Jenner Wears Super-Skimpy Outfit and Four Cartier Love Bracelets" and many more like this). Such mainstreaming of the bracelet has created an interesting dichotomy of effects. It generates a new awareness of the bracelet with individuals who may not have otherwise been up on it. This isn't necessarily a bad thing; it leads to sales. But it is not without a drawback.
What comes hand-in-hand with things that are in-demand and out of most people's price range are counterfeits and it is safe to say that such widespread attention/interest has spawned a truly enormous number of them. Counterfeits are problematic for a number of reasons, one of which is: It makes a brand and its products appear diluted/more readily available than they actually are when the masses have them. The $5,000+ Love bracelet went from being relatively exclusive to being on far more wrists than ever before. This is, in part, due to the availability of $20 fakes, which are sold on Amazon, eBay, iOffer, TaoBao, and the many, many "cartierwholesale.com" or "mycartiershop.com" websites. This is, to an extent, what we have seen Louis Vuitton struggle with over the past several years thanks to the influx of fakes. There is a delicate balance between a brand’s ability to increase awareness of its brand and thus, its profits, and its ability to maintain its identity as a brand . Once consumers identify your brand as one that is synonymous with over-exposure and/or one that is frequently copied, then the many decades and hundreds of millions of dollars you have spent to situate your brand as it appears to be in the eyes of consumers (prior to such negative connotations) is lessened.
So, as you can imagine, brand dilution is not an overnight change; it is a process that takes time. But much like Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Christian Louboutin, and other brands that have experienced the negative backlash from over-use of their name and logos, it is an ugly truth. The Kardashians, on their own, likely do not have the power to destroy a brand, but given their pervasive presence, it may not be a stretch to say that they could play a role. Thoughts?