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Viktor & Rolf“An Escape from reality”
Brand Segmentation, Targeting, Positioning And
FSID– Level 2,Section A
Viktor & Rolf
What happens when you combine art, surrealism, and fashion into one? You
get Viktor and Rolf. Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren are the creative
directors of the fashion house based in Paris
Birthplace: Viktor: Geldrop, Netherlands / Rolf: Dongen, Netherlands
House Inception: 1993, Milan, Italy
Debut Haute Couture Collection: January 1998
Labels: Viktor & Rolf (Prêt-à-Porter, Haute Couture 1998-2000), Viktor & Rolf
Monsieur (menswear division), Viktor & Rolf Parfums, Viktor & Rolf Eyewear.
Education: Both met while studying at the Arnhem Academy of Art & Design
in The Netherlands
Inspirations: The duo have stated inspirations are drawn from dreams which
are brought to fruition through the art of fabric and design. Renowned for
their concept-driven shows, Viktor & Rolf's runway presentations deliver
incredibly intricate designs through the deconstruction of fragile fabrics such
as tulle and chiffon. They are also quite keen advocates of a-symmetrical
Classifications: Haute couture (For the few years of 1998-2000, Viktor & Rolf
were invited by the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture to be
corresponding guest members), prêt-à-porter (ready-to-wear), menswear,
accessories, beauty & fragrance, eyewear.
Viktor & Rolf 's first collection won the grand prize at the Salon européen des
jeunes stylists (1993), a fashion festival in the southern French city of Hyères.
When deconstruction was the trend, Viktor & Rolf reconstructed by piling
layers of men's button-down shirts to form ball gowns.
The following year they suspended flashy gold garments adorned with
oversized ribbons and excessive decorations from the ceiling in their
installation L'Apparence du vide (1994) at the Galerie Patricia Dorfman, Paris,
which sought to critique the aura and hype surrounding fashion.
In another experiment, sleek marketing for Viktor & Rolf, le parfum (1996)
served to critique the superficial, banal beauty of fragrance advertising. The
neatly packaged, limited-edition (2,500) perfume bottles were deliberately
designed so that they could not be opened. The bottles sold out at the
Parisian boutique Colette. InLaunch (1996), presented at the Torch Gallery in
Amsterdam, Viktor & Rolf's dream world of the fashion process was realized
on a small scale.
They explained that, with a doll-sized runway, sketch and draping session,
and photo shoot setup, "we created the ultimate goals we wanted to achieve
in fashion (but felt unable to). These miniatures represented some of the
most emblematic situations in fashion we wanted to become reality”.
The Haute Couture Collections
Viktor & Rolf brought an intellectual approach to the fashion process via art.
They pursued haute couture because they found it to be "the most sublime"
aspect of fashion.
With Dutch government support and the Groningen Museum, the
Netherlands, as their sole client, Viktor & Rolf were able to develop
creatively without the pressure of maintaining profitability that most young
In their second spring/summer 1998 collection at the Thaddeus Ropac
Gallery in Paris, Viktor & Rolf created their signature "atomic bomb
silhouette"-exaggerated on top and pencil-skinny on the bottom. The clothes
were dedicated to the millennium (fit either for the biggest celebration ever
or apocalyptic destruction) and were deformed with silk balloons, streamers,
and other brightly colored party elements.
The Viktor & Rolf label was recognized by the Federation de la couture, the
umbrella organization that over-sees the Parisian haute couture houses and
their events. This prestigious invitation for inclusion occurred even though
Viktor & Rolf did not conform to the organization's rules and guidelines.
Viktor & Rolf presented their entire fall/winter 1999-2000 collection on the
shoulders of one model, Maggie Rizer. As she stood on a revolving platform,
Viktor & Rolf layered, in nine successive stages à la Russian-doll style,
precisely-engineered jute dresses decorated with Swarovski crystals. Through
this mechanism they attempted to showcase their feelings about haute
couture as a precious and unattainable jewel.
Viktor & Rolf in the Twenty-First
In subsequent years, they layered on more serious business components.
Launching women’s rtw in 2000, men’s wear in 2003 and an array of
signature fragrances with L’Oréal, ignited by the hit Flowerbomb, introduced
in 2005. They followed up with scents including Eau Mega, Antidote,
Spicebomb and most recently Bonbon, housed in a striking bow-shaped
When the latter scent was unveiled in January 2014 at a Viktor & Rolf
couture show featuring dancers walking en pointe in flesh-toned latex
dresses, L’Oréal estimated Flowerbomb to be among the top 16 prestige
women’s fragrances worldwide.
In 2006, they teamed with H&M for a onetime collection hinged on wedding
dresses that unleashed pandemonium in stores.
The fashion media's attraction to their exaggerated silhouettes and
noteworthy runway performances has always played an integral role in the
shaping of the Viktor & Rolf brand identity. With no advertising campaigns,
no self-standing boutiques, and no mass-produced clothes to sell, their early
relationship with the public depended heavily on the generous amounts of
press coverage they received each season.
The media's acknowledgment of Viktor & Rolf as a leading Avant Garde
haute couture label was instrumental to the commercial success of their
ready-to-wear line. Their first collection sold immediately to sixty stores
worldwide during its launch in February 2000.
Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren understand that a fashion designer's public
image is nearly as important as the clothes that are created. Oftentimes
referred to as "the Gilbert & George of fashion," the two present themselves
as mirror images of each other: matching dark-rimmed glasses, closely
trimmed dark hair, and a serious demeanor despite the humor in their
They performed a tap-dance finale with tuxedos, top hats, and canes to
"Putting on the Ritz" and "Singing' in the Rain" for their spring/summer 2001
Additionally, they used themselves as models for the launch of their
fall/winter 2003-2004 men's wear collection, Monsieur, as they synchronized
changes into looks depicting clichés of traditional men's wear.
Viktor & Rolf continue to push the boundaries of fashion in ready-to-wear by
using the catwalk as a stage for performance art. Models were cast as
walking shadows, for example, in their "Black Hole" collection (fall/winter
2001-2002) when they were covered head-to-toe in black silhouettes and
black makeup. Two years later (fall/winter 2003-2004) their models appeared
as fair-skinned, red-haired clones of the actress Tilda Swinton.
Through their shows Viktor & Rolf try to bring fantasy, beauty, and magic
back to fashion as they forge a path for the viewer to enter their dream. "For
us," explains Rolf Snoeren, "it's always about escaping reality, so in that
sense the clothes are meant to show beauty first. Beauty and hope. Because
cynicism, you know, kills everything."
A market consists of 5 elements – buyer , seller , product , financial
institution and competition.
A product is anything that has utility and is offered for sale.
Marketing is about communicating the value of a product, service or brand
to customers or consumers for the purpose of promoting or selling that
product, service, or brand.
Marketing techniques include choosing target markets through market
analysis and market segmentation, as well as understanding consumer
behavior and conveying a product's value to the customer.
The management process through which goods and services move
from concept to the customer. It includes the coordination of
four elements called the 4 P's of marketing:
1. identification, selection and development of a product,
2. determination of its price,
3. selection of a distribution channel to reach the customer's place, and
4. development and implementation of a promotional strategy.
The job of a marketer is not to find the right customer for the product but to
find the right product for the customer.
Marketing strategy differs according to the market segmentation and the
It is the division of the market and it is the building blocks of marketing.
Market Segmentation – Aggregating prospective buyers into those that
1- Have common needs
2 -Will respond similarly to the marketing action.
Market segmentation pertains to the division of a market of consumers into
persons with similar needs and wants.
For instance, Kellogg's cereals, Frosties are marketed to children. Crunchy
Nut Cornflakes are marketed to adults. Both goods denote two products
which are marketed to two distinct groups of persons, both with similar
needs, traits, and wants.
It is a marketing strategy which involves dividing a broad target market into
subsets of consumers, businesses, or countries who have, or are perceived to
have, common needs, interests, and priorities, and then designing and
implementing strategies to target them. Market segmentation strategies are
generally used to identify and further define the target customers, and
provide supporting data for marketing plan elements such as positioning to
achieve certain marketing plan objectives. Businesses may develop product
differentiation strategies, or an undifferentiated approach, involving specific
products or product lines depending on the specific demand and attributes
of the target segment. Generally a market is segmented on the basis of the
• Geographic segmentation
• Demographic segmentation
• Socioeconomic segmentation
• Psychographic segmentation
Market segmentation allows for a better allocation of a firm's finite
resources. A firm only possesses a certain amount of resources. Accordingly,
it must make choices (and incur the related costs) in servicing specific groups
of consumers. In this way, the diversified tastes of the consumers can be
served better. With growing diversity in the tastes of modern consumers,
firms are taking note of the benefit of servicing a multiplicity of new markets.
Market segmentation can be viewed as a key dynamic in interpreting and
executing a logical perspective of Strategic Marketing Planning. The
manifestation of this process is considered by many traditional thinkers to
include the following; Segmenting, Targeting and Positioning.
Groups Resulting from marketing segmentation process are called market
segments. They are a relatively homogenous collection of prospective
Segments – They are the separate sectors being catered to i.e. the different
The degree to which you segment a market determines the approach to
marketing you would take be it mass marketing, segment marketing , niche
marketing or micro marketing.
segment marketing - One where the company decides to provide separate
offerings to each different market segment that it targets. It is also called
multi-segment marketing and as is clearly seen that it tries to appeal to
multiple segments in the market.
Each segment is targeted uniquely as the company provides unique benefits
to different segments. It increases the total sales but at the expense of
increase in the cost of investing in the business.
Targeting is the 2nd stage of the S.T.P process . After segmentation the
marketer will select a segment or series of segments and target it/them.
A target market is a group of customers a business has decided to aim
its marketing efforts and ultimately its merchandise towards.
A well-defined target market is the first element of a marketing
strategy. Product, price, promotion, and place are the four elements of
a marketing mix strategy that determine the success of a product or service
in the marketplace.
All resources and efforts are then targeted at the selected segment.
Criteria for Target Market –
• Expected Growth
• Competitive Position
• Cost of Reaching the Market
• Compatibility with the organizations objectives and resources
There are multiple approaches of targeting a market – single segment
concentration , product specialization , full market coverage.
Men Women Women (25-45) other income groups Urban Affluent Women
The target female consumer for Viktor and Rolf would fall under the client
profile of Tilda Swinton
Some famous personalities to frequent Viktor and Rolf are Tilda Swinton, Tori
Amos, Kelly Osbourne, Mischa Barton, Gwen Stefani, Ellen DeGeneres, Rachel
McAdams, Anne Hathaway, Christina Milian and Eva Mendes.
Viktor and Rolf design for an upscale, luxurious, designer market. I imagine
their target customer would be a high-class woman, in her 20s-40s who
seeks to dress both in current high fashion trends, while mixing in surrealist
She would have a taste for art, and showcasing herself in unique clothing.
Although Viktor and Rolf will have competitors like their inspiration
Balenciaga, or other designer brands like Alexander McQueen, John Galliano,
Pucci, or Vivienne Westwood, V&R have a competitive edge over the rest with
their fearless artistic take on pushing the limits in fashion and conceptual
fantasy as well as appealing to a younger target market.
Viktor and Rolf’s designs can be purchased from retailers like Iris, Barney’s in
New York, and Bloomingdales. V&R price points for R-T-W items in stores
range from $500-$1500 a piece.
The price points for the basic R-T-W items reflect the target customers that
V&R seeks to serve: a luxurious, fashion conscientious, avant-garde oriented
powerful and successful woman.
The Place an offering occupies in the consumers minds on important
attributes relative to competitive offerings.
1. Head to Head positioning
2. Differentiation positioning
The Dutch saying, Doe normaal, dan ben je al gek genoeg (literally, Just be
normal, then you are crazy enough) sheds light on the work of design team
Viktor & Rolf.
Bridging the label between couture and art, their runway presentations are
typically high on concept, showmanship, and wit. A few (out of many)
examples of their unusual approach: an entirely topsy-turvy show with
upside-down dresses and an ear-splitting backwards soundtrack, a
provocative all-black show (including the models' faces), and a presentation
featuring, on a revolving turntable, a single model who was layered in look
after look like a Russian doll.
Mixing the drama of grandly staged opera with the precision-chic of Paris
couture, Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren are some of the industry’s most
famous—and often—unpredictable—showmen. Too arty to place in the just-
fashion category and too fashion-y to simply be called artists, they meld the
two like few others. Collections are never boring affairs, and shows employ
fantastical techniques, whether it’s models wearing their own cumbersome
lighting structures or clothing presented upside down.
Renowned for the cut and proportion of their designs they turn recognizable,
classic forms into unfamiliar features, such as oversized shirt collars, sleeves
Viktor & Rolf Positioning – Daring, fresh, artistic, confident, luxurious
Their silhouettes range from a tight, pencil skirted figure to over exaggerated
headpieces and voluminous skirts. The design house has been acknowledged
for their incorporation of structure, architecture, and fine art in their designs.
Their collections offer a dream-like feel to them, as you are usually taken out
of your everyday mind and transported.
Not only do they design women's RTW accessories, apparel and shoes, but
they have created several books and fantastic fragrances. Their perfumes are
Flowerbomb and the newer, Eau Mega. Both have their own distinct
personality, with Flowerbomb being floral yet sultry, and Eau Mega being
ultra feminine and floral.
In addition, they have created several other inspiring side projects, including
their dolls and retail store. Their retail store opened in April 2005 on Milan's
Via Sant'Andrea and is designed to look upside down. It looks like an illusion,
but is really a step over, climb through, crown molding-on-the-floor design
plan. It is refreshing and an important piece for Visual Merchandisers to
I think that Viktor and Rolf's bold retail and product design has brought he
brand prominence. For example, their flagship Milan boutique has definitely
put them on the fashion map. The original, fantasy-like upside down plan
has caught the eye of the entire industry. It is a beautiful sight, and I believe
the unique store design helps consumers remember this company.
Next, I believe Viktor and Rolf's differentiation in design aesthetic brings
them more attention in the market and industry. Their designs are infused
with surrealism and fine art, which sets them apart from other designers in
the industry. There are only a few designers who I believe fall into the same
category as Viktor and Rolf, with ideas such as light fixtures attached to
models, pulling at the garments they're wearing.
Repositioning refers to the major change in positioning for the
To successfully reposition a product, the firm has to change the target
market’s understanding of the product. This is sometimes a challenge,
particularly for well-established or strongly branded products.
Firms may consider repositioning a product due to declining performance or
due to major shifts in the environment. Many firms choose to launch a new
product (or brand) instead of repositioning because of the effort and cost
required to successfully implement the change.
If a product is not selling as well as might be expected, or if its performance
has declined from previous rates of success, it may well be that the brand
positioning strategy needs to be reconsidered, in order either to promote the
product more effectively to its target audience, or to identify a new customer
segment to whom it might be better suited.
“We had big ambitions,” says Viktor Horsting on creating fashion
house Viktor & Rolf with Rolf Snoeren. “From the very beginning we wanted
to start very high,” he says, indicating the absolute apogee of couture
elegance: “Start at the top, and everything else would fall into place after
that. It was a very emotional ambition, not just in terms of the size of the
business or wanting to be like a certain designer. It was more about fulfilling
creative ambitions and working at the highest level possible.”
In the years that followed, Viktor & Rolf became famous for making clothes
that no one bought and no one could wear. But they soon realized the limits
of this approach. They made a move from haute couture to ready-to-wear
and, in 2000, launched their first collection, which appropriated America’s
stars and stripes to underline the show’s commercial motivation.
The success of the show confirmed that couture was not the only route to
acclaim. Today, the designers have diversified the Viktor & Rolf brand to
include every logical extension: menswear, eyewear, footwear, accessories
and now a fragrance, Flowerbomb .
Subsequent collaborations have included work for L’Oreal, Dutch
department store De Bijenkorf, luggage maker Samsonite and the
champagne brand Piper-Heidsick — not to mention the duo’s striking
costume designs for the opera, a jewelry line for crystal house Swarovski,
couture eyelashes for Shu Uemura and a partridge in a pear tree. In 2006,
Viktor & Rolf designed a special collection for the Swedish megastore H&M,
broadening their appeal and reach.
But their shows continue to grab the headlines. When asked are the shows
still what they want to be known for? Rolf responds “No! We just do both
now. We make clothes that people want to wear – and then we make special
pieces that we call couture.” But Rolf wants to be absolutely clear: “For us
still it’s the shows, the performance, that’s the real work that we make.”
These projects, Horsting says, “were very instinctive. We knew we had to do
ready-to-wear, but we had no idea how to organize it all. But we knew it
would be a logical follow up. We knew it wouldn’t be us organizing it, we
knew we would have to find a partner.” Indeed, the label has a growing
consumer base and their performances capture the pattering hearts of the
fashion set who go wild for their theatrical showstoppers which have
previously included guest performers like Tilda Swinton, Rufus Wainwright
and, most recently, La Roux.
When Rosso’s OTB acquired Viktor & Rolf in 2008, revenues were about 10
million euros, or $12.2 million at current exchange rates, and the plan was
to expand the product offering in RTW and pursue brand extensions via
licensing, much as OTB did with Maison Martin Margiela.
At the time of the deal, Snoeren said he hoped the partnership would release
him and Horsting from excessive business pressures, leaving them free to
focus on design.
The designers’ frustrations with the endless deadlines of fashion were voiced
loud and clear on their fall 2008 runway, with clothes declaring in protruding
3-D letters: “No.”
Some of Viktor and Rolf’s current collections include their Spring R-T_W
avant-garde tulle collection from 2010. V&R took a completely new
conceptual direction where instead of playing it safe, cut holes in blatant
areas in tulle gowns. They provided the audience a conceptual execution,
mixing masculine tuxedo tops with conceptually formed feminine pastel
plisse’, decorating the bodice like a flower.
Their most current collections fit well in the R-T-W markets. For pre-fall 2012
V&R launched a dark and moody collection. Dolls have been a reoccurring
theme for V&R, this time porcelain Victorian variety inspired the collection.
The words of Sigmund Freud describing the sexual life of an adult woman as
a “dark continent” resonate with V&R as well. V&R wanted to seek a
secretive quality that they describe as “A Victorian women, discreet, moody,
rich, and luxurious”. They felt that the studied, dressy oddness would appeal
to their target customer. The collection includes stretched, puffed, shrunk,
draped, fringed, and ruffled silhouettes in a dark -color scheme.
Viktor and Rolf’s Spring R-T-W 2012 collection featured a pastel doll
theme. V&R decided to go in a different direction from their previous red
face pant of last season; amping up the feminine qualities with synthetic pink
lashes and models who were made to look like walking dolls. They used
girlish silhouettes, oversized prints, blown up proportions of stitching, and
naïve quality of lacing.
The next few years were not their best fashion wise, with critics not shy
from expressing their luke warm feelings towards their collections in 2011,
the NYTimes.com critic in particular saying the pair “live on their own
planet,” So the pair attempted to move towards a more mature collection
with a 1930s-inspired fall set, sending models out in printed silk pajamas and
Veronica Lake waves. But conceptual cohesiveness remains a problem, as old
motifs make less successful return appearances. Although they strive to not
be part of the main stream fashion cycle it seems they have fall victim to
their own enemy.
The duo returned to couture after a 13-year absence in 2013, but was
playing to a smaller niche audience. Their most recent collection was
devoted to floral babydoll dresses that exploded with 3-D embroideries
hoisted on giant straw hats.
Today, Viktor & Rolf ships its RTW collections for men and women to about
100 specialty stores, and has an eyewear license with Japan’s Murai, plus a
sublicense to Paget for European markets.
In December 2013, when the designers christened their 5,400-square-foot
Paris store, it was to set a template for future expansion, with the designers
calling it the first of “at least five” Viktor & Rolf stores to come and listing
New York, London, Tokyo and Los Angeles among initial priorities.
However, fresh off a well-reviewed couture show, Viktor Horsting and Rolf
Snoeren have announced that they'll be pausing their ready-to-wear
business following their fall 2015 collection. The designers sounded
sanguine about the end of their dalliance with RTW and retail.
In terms of their clothing line they have decide to change their approach
from that of segment marketing ( multi segment marketing ) to one of niche
A niche market is the subset of the market on which a specific product is
focused. The market niche defines the product features aimed at satisfying
specific market needs, as well as the price range, production quality and
the demographics that is intended to impact. It is also a small market
Every product can be defined by its market niche. The niche market is highly
specialized, and aiming to survive among the competition from numerous
The designers, who've been in business for 22 years, told Women's Wear
Daily that they would instead focus on couture, fragrances, and licensing—
similar to the approach Jean Paul Gaultier took when he exited the RTW
business last year.
Renzo Rosso says the move was "a strategic decision to position the Viktor &
Rolf brand in the highest luxury segment of fashion.”
Horsting framed the move as a creative decision. “By letting go of it, we gain
more time and freedom,” Horsting and Snoeren said. “We feel a strong need
to refocus on our artistic roots. We have always used fashion to
communicate — it is our primary means of artistic expression. Ready-to-wear
started to feel creatively restricting. By letting go of it, we gain more time and
freedom. ”We are extremely excited to push the boundaries of our vision in
new, unexpected territories,” they added.
A fast pace, many deadlines and fierce competition. That’s how Viktor
Horsting and Rolf Snoeren describe today’s designer ready-to-wear business,
and their rationale for halting the Viktor & Rolf women’s and men’s
collections, leaving them to concentrate on couture, fragrances and special
When asked - With the brand evolving and diversifying, can they still pin
down the essence of their product? Eventually, Viktor speaks, “Well,
conceptual glamour comes to mind.” “But escape from reality is also a
phrase we keep using.”
Viktor and Rolf Decided to relocate to Paris in 1998 to move away from the
“blend-in” mentality of the Netherlands.
They then gradually transitioned from exclusive exhibitions and collections
to ready-to-wear in 2000. Partnered with multiple businesses like L’Oréal
(fragrance line), Murai (eyewear), Paget (eyewear) & Swarovski (jewelry) and
However this resulted in an originally avant-garde collection brand losing its
edge and unique factor that defined them initially in Paris.
Their once creative and surrealistic collections, that bent more towards
pieces of art than fashion started becoming more mainstream.
Dissatisfied with these results their objective now is to reposition Viktor &
Rolf as an avant-garde luxury fashion haute couture Label all over the world.