Sustainability and the increasing importance of the so-called circular economy are today’s megatrends affecting the luxury industry. They also constitute key drivers for its long-lasting competitiveness. The competitive environment in which luxury brands operate, coupled with transformation in the lifestyles of Generation Z is now evolving in a more sustainable direction. It triggers the need for the luxury fashion houses to redefine their business models and to polish their IPR strategies. What do big luxury brands need to do to become more sustainable? Or are they already there? And how should they align their IPR strategy with the essential sustainability goals? We interviewed Associate Professor Jonas Holmqvist from KEDGE Business School, Bordeaux.
Intellectual property encompasses protectable, intangible assets that result from creative innovation. Intellectual property rights (IPR), such as trademarks, copyrights and design rights, can protect these assets from wrongful use. To make the most out of these rights, companies benefit from having an intellectual property rights strategy (“IPR strategy”) for managing the company’s intangible assets. This includes managing the company’s IPR portfolio. An IPR strategy helps the company to manage its intangible assets to maximise their commercial benefits and to prevent their unauthorised use by other parties. As brand management essentially comprises the protection and enforcement of IPRs, a correctly formulated and implemented IPR strategy can be a crucial part of the company’s broader strategy and a tool for appropriate brand management. Together with marketing activities, IPR strategy and brand management are important elements of maintaining a company’s competitive edge.
In particular, companies operating in the luxury industry need to have a solid IPR strategy in place to achieve their goals. A luxury brand cannot be built overnight, so a robust IPR strategy must focus on the company’s long-term commercial objectives instead of shorter-term product life cycles. It is also important for luxury companies to achieve and maintain the relevance of their brands in a time where Generation Z’s preferences and trends are constantly changing and evolving, influenced by phenomena such as digital media and social networking. Concerns about climate change, planetary boundaries and sustainability are already present and the environment-savvy Generation Z wants to make an impact through their personal choices.
 Generation Z: born after 1995, they live in an era of economic crisis and rapid technological transformation.