A bottle of hand sanitiser is pictured in sealed off tent during a media presentation of the safety checks at the Chene Medical Centre in Thierrens, Switzerland. Picture: REUTERS/Denis Balibouse
A bottle of hand sanitiser is pictured in sealed off tent during a media presentation of the safety checks at the Chene Medical Centre in Thierrens, Switzerland. Picture: REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

LVMH, the owner of luxury brands Emilio Pucci, Kenzo, Marc Jacobs and Louis Vuitton, among others, has announced that it is converting three factories manufacturing fragrances for Christian Dior, Givenchy and Guerlain to make hand sanitiser instead. The sanitiser will be distributed free of charge to French authorities and to Europe’s largest hospital system. LVMH is doing this in a bid to do its bit for those affected by the Covid-19 virus. It’s a clever move by the brand on a number of levels, showing consumers it is purposeful and not concerned with profit alone.

LVMH has managed to achieve a number of things with this announcement, according to Forbes. First and foremost, it addresses the global shortage of hand sanitiser – a critical element in the prevention of Covid-19. At the same time it is showing consumers it has the public’s best interests at heart and is also keeping its factories open and its staff employed. All of this positions the company as “more purposeful and less commercial” in the eyes of its consumers.

the big take-out

LVMH’s conversion of perfume factories to be able to manufacture hand sanitiser is a good example of a business that understands exactly what its consumers need and when they need it – the hallmark of a true luxury brand.

This strategy, however, goes even deeper. LVMH is showing a true understanding of the definition of luxury and what it means to consumers at different times in their lives. Luxury has traditionally been about providing high-quality products to high-end consumers, but in recent times it aligns more to being able to fill consumers’ every need at the highest level. While the crisis around Covid-19 is taking place in a moment in time, for now supplying hand sanitiser where it is most needed and in severe shortage simply makes sense. It is also caring and commendable, and that is what makes LVMH a leader in the luxury retail category.

The hand sanitiser is not branded but will be a no-name product produced by LVMH. This removes the idea that the company caters only for wealthy consumers with expensive products, and demonstrates that the business is flexible in its thinking and receptive to changes in the market.

At a time when economic fallout is most certainly a given, LVMH is demonstrating the type of thinking that keeps brands alive during a crisis – the type of thinking that will be needed a lot more in the coming months.