Miu Miu: What is behind its 89% explosive growth?

The staggering 89% year-on-year revenue growth is the remarkable performance of Miu Miu in the first quarter of 2024. In the third quarter of 2023 and the just-passed first quarter of 2024, Miu Miu has ranked first on the Lyst Hottest Brand list (it ranked second in the fourth quarter of 2023, overtaken by Prada, also under the Prada Group). What has enabled Miu Miu, the brand once dubbed as the “secondary line” of Prada, to achieve this explosive growth of 89%? What are the underlying product and marketing strategies, and where is Miu Miu heading in the future?

1. Capturing the style but not just following

The first recipe for Miu Miu’s success is its design, which not only resonates with the current style but also integrates unique innovations.

Since Raf Simons joined Prada, Miuccia Prada seems to be able to invest more energy into the design of Miu Miu. At the 2022 Spring/Summer show held in October 2021, Miu Miu introduced a series of ultra-short crop tops and micro-mini skirt, bringing Miu Miu back into the spotlight. Fashion magazines including Vogue, Dazed, Vanity Fair, and i-D all featured this micro-mini skirt on their covers or in editorials.

Paloma Elsesser in Miu Miu for i-D Spring 2022

The micro-mini skirt was part of the popular Y2K style at the time (brands including Fendi, Diesel, and even Chanel were following the Y2K trend), and Miu Miu managed to make it a real hit. The reason why Miu Miu’s micro-mini skirt achieved total fashion domination is because, while capturing the current trend, Miu Miu innovated with its own style. Miuccia Prada did not just replicate designs from the Y2K in the millennium era but introduced new elements including even shorter tops, lower waistlines, and innovative outfit combinations, which were refreshing to everyone after seeing so many Y2K designs. 

Furthermore, Miu Miu balanced the Y2K style by incorporating unisex dressing and the Ivy Style. At the 2022 Fall/Winter runway show, we saw female models wearing distressed jackets and shirts, as well as male models in low-waist attire. Miu Miu also introduced Ballerinas, librarian-chic cardigans, and shirt pairings with knitted sweaters (which are loved by Bocconi students) to create an image of erudition. By blending its unique designs with the prevailing market trends, Miu Miu successfully understands what the market really needs.

Miu Miu 2022 Fall Winter Ready-to-Wear

2. Solidify the Brand Identity

Miu Miu’s success also largely stems from its transition in brand identity from being youthful to embodying a “youthful spirit”. Previously, Miu Miu was commonly seen as a brand for young girls, with its runway shows, makeup, and advertisements featuring “doll-like features and blonde hair” supermodels, aiming to create an image of carefree innocence and affluent youth. Its main consumer base was also targeted towards this group of people. 

Daphne Groeneveld, Ginta Lapina, Lindsey Wixson, and Siri Tollerod for Miu Miu 2010 Fall Winter Campaign by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott. These four models are the most-wanted doll-face models in the early 2010s.

However, Miu Miu realized that it was time to change its brand image and detach itself from a specific group of people. Consequently, Miu Miu shifted its brand identity from its original “youthful” positioning to embodying a “youthful spirit”. While “youthful” was exclusive to teenage girls, “youthful spirit” is something that anyone can possess. This shift allowed Miu Miu to detach its brand positioning from an age range. This is also why, instead of solely showcasing Y2K style, Miu Miu incorporated elements of gender neutrality and intellectualism to dilute the dominance of the Y2K trend.

In both its runway shows and advertisements, Miu Miu has moved away from solely embodying a teenage style and embraced women of all ages, showcasing their “youthful spirit” filled with freedom, vitality, and creativity.

Spanish Actress Ángela Molina on the runway with Rianne van Rompaey and other models for Miu Miu 2024 Fall Winter Ready-to-Wear

3. Appropriate Marketing and Strategic Choices

The timely promotion and accurate selection of brand ambassadors by Miu Miu have been crucial factors contributing to their success. We still remember the overwhelming promotion of Miu Miu’s micro-mini skirt in magazines and social media in 2022, especially the series of photos featuring male model Yugo Takano on Dazed Korea, which sparked intense discussions on the Internet. In selecting brand ambassadors, instead of well-established celebrities and actors, Miu Miu has closely aligned with its brand identity by opting for emerging musicians and actors (such as Cailee Spaeny in the US, Liu Lexie in China, and Wonyoung in Korea), whose vitality, courage, and creativity embody the youthful spirit that is now a crucial aspect of Miu Miu’s brand identity.

Yugo Takano in Miu Miu for Dazed Korea 2022 Issue

Chinese Actress Zhao Jinmai in Miu Miu for Elle China 2024 February Issue

In terms of strategic choices, Miu Miu has focused its marketing efforts on East Asia, particularly Japan, China, and South Korea, as these countries have a pursuit of “youthful” within their concept of beauty, and this pursuit of “youthful” aligns perfectly with Miu Miu’s brand characteristics. Consumer data also validates the effects of Miu Miu’s strategic positioning: in the first three quarters of 2023, sales in the Asia-Pacific markets, excluding Japan, increased by 15% to €1.04 billion, while the Japanese market grew by 34% to €334 million, representing growth rates of 21% and 47% respectively when calculated at fixed exchange rates.

What is Miu Miu’s next step?

Compared to the strategy of other luxury brands that rely on accessories to drive overall brand growth, Miu Miu has carved out its own path by maintaining brand popularity through ready-to-wear. Displaying classic items and accessories sales, Miu Miu’s strategy makes sense: ready-to-wear clothing is easier for broader advertising (in magazines, events, and online influencer promotion), enabling quicker brand awareness enhancement; clothing carries higher prices, and compared to handbags, it has lower resale value, which can help cultivate and select loyal consumers during brand hype periods.

However, after explosive growth, handbags are expected to become the next focus for Miu Miu. Fashion brands, in particular, should focus on shaping brand identity. While the brand image of Miu Miu is solidified as a “youthful spirit”, it is undoubtedly vague and requires a more specific image. Clothing designs vary greatly, and the selling period of products is shorter compared to classic handbags, making it difficult to create a lasting classic image. Hence, apart from the micro-mini skirt, there should be a handbag able to remind customers of Miu Miu. Additionally, handbags and beauty products are the two “cash cows” of luxury brands. With Miu Miu currently being a brand with annual sales of €500 million, to maintain its development momentum, it is inevitable to have a strong handbag and effective promotions to support the stability of Miu Miu’s turnover, and even to drive faster growth through handbag (media like Vogue have suggested that Miu Miu’s handbag sector still has significant room for high-speed growth).

Currently, from the perspective of advertising placements, Miu Miu has gradually shifted its focus towards handbag products. Miu Miu has begun to create separate advertisements for handbags, such as the recently heavily advertised Wander Handbag 2024 Campaign on the streets of Milan, aiming to solidify the “Matelassé” image of the Wander Handbag.

Gigi Hadid in Miu Miu Wander Handbag 2024 by Steven Meisel

Can the success of Miu Miu happen on other brands?

The explosive growth of Miu Miu inevitably arouses envy from other brands: in the first quarter of 2024, most of the fashion brands under LVMH and Kering experienced single-digit growth, with some even declining. Gucci’s revenue in the first quarter was 2.1 billion euros, down 18% on a comparable basis; Saint Laurent’s revenue was 740 million yuan, down 6% on a comparable basis; and Bottega Veneta’s revenue was 388 million euros, up 2% on a comparable basis. LVMH didn’t fare much better either, with organic sales growth in its fashion and leather goods division dropping to 2% after a 9% increase in the fourth quarter of last year.

Miu Miu’s staggering 89% growth is unsustainable, but there is hope that such growth can be seen in other brands. 2024 is a crucial year for many brands. Brands like Alexander McQueen, Gucci, and Valentino are in a transitional phase of changing creative directors. Under this circumstance, there is much potential for high growth, but also a lot of threats. Prada Group CEO Andrea Guerra’s words may provide some inspiration to these brands: “Sharpness of positioning, creativity, and communication will be critical this year, when we will observe a different kind of market and trends.” In the ever-changing post-pandemic fashion industry, it is the unique creativity, precise positioning transformation, and effective communication strategy that created the explosive growth of Miu Miu, and possibly in the future, of other brands.

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