LEATHER is in. And the Singapore-based distributor of Braun Buffel leather goods is making sure that no expenses are spared in creating more awareness of the brand particularly among the urban young professionals between the ages of 25 and 45 in Malaysia.
According to David Liao, director of Lianbee-Jeco Pte Ltd the sole distributor for Braun Buffel, Renoma, Givenchy and Pierre Cardin In Asia, the demand for mid-price range leather products had remained relatively unscathed despite the global economic malaise.
That is why the company is embarking on an aggressive advertising campaign worth at least S$3.5mil this year to bring about more visibility and brand value to its targeted customers.
Demand for Braun Buffel range of products and growth are expected to come mainly from Malaysia, China, Japan, Taiwan and Vietnam and he plans to launch a television commercial of the brand in the Asia region this year something which the company had not ventured into before to promote the brand.
We are doing things differently now like advertising Braun Buffel products in the mainstream newspapers as well as on television. All the while our target audience were international fashion or entertainment magazines readers as well as tourists browsing through Inflight magazines.
What we are doing now is creating brand value and awareness to the Braun Buffel brand, Liao told StarBiz in Singapore recently.
The company is planning to expand the product range of Braun Buffel from the traditional men leather wallets to cover men and women shoes, leather jackets, gloves and even luxurious leather sofas.
In fact, we will be going into any thing related to leather as we want our customers to enjoy Braun Buffel as high quality and better value brand, he said.
According to Liao the future trends for the next 10 to 15 years will be more skewed towards leather products simply because leather will go well with both the young and old.
Leather goods are seen as sophisticated and of high quality particularly if they come with good quality and design that is elegant as well, he added.
On the timing for the advertising campaign, Liao said the brand had hitherto been keeping a low-profile although it had been in Malaysia for the last 10 years.
The company had recently set up a Braun Buffel boutique at the Suria Kuala Lumpur City Centre shopping centre.
According to Liao, the shop has been doing very well since it was set up about 6 months ago. It has targeted sales of between RM3mil and RM4mil a year.
Having been in the Malaysian market for about a decade now, we are expecting an increase in our market share from the present 60% to 70% at least, he added.
According to Liao, the company is allocating a much bigger budget now for advertising and promotion in the Asia Pacific region because it was widening the distribution network with special focus on the Malaysian, Chinese, Korean and Japanese markets.
Although Braun Buffel was among the top brands in Europe, Liao said there was much potential for growth and acceptance among people in the Asia Pacific region.
Braun Buffel has a very good client base in Malaysia. Here, we target the middle to upper income market but we are not putting our products on the category as Gucci or Prada.
We are doing well in Singapore too as demand has been consistent despite the economic downturn. Business had been brisk and the company is aiming for a turnover of S$18mil this year, he said.
Besides Malaysia and Singapore, Braun Buffel has boutiques in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia and Myanmar.
Braun Buffel derived its name from saddler and upholsterer Johann Braun who crafted the first leather product in the town of Kim in Germany in 1887. It is recognisable by the distinctive bull logo.
Liao has forecast between 15% and 18% increase in turnover for Braun Buffel products this year as the brand has carved a niche market through its competitive pricing strategy.
We are confident of the consumers' appetite for good designs and products that are of value for money. Malaysians particularly are fashion conscious and have good taste for fine products, he said.
Liao related a bit of history when he said his company was responsible in bringing in the Braun Buffel brand from Germany about 24 years ago.
It was during one of my visits to a German leather goods fair that I got the first impression of the brand. I like it because of its characteristics and high quality.
I immediately felt there was good potential for the product in the Asian market so I brought it back to Singapore, he said.