Recently, Jay Z. purchased the Armand de Brignac champagne company, which “traces its roots back to 1763,” (Petroff, 2014, p. 1). The rap superstar had been so enamored with the champagne brand that he once “hosted a fundraiser for President Obama that featured a wall lined with hundreds of Armand de Brignac bottles,” (Petroff, 2014, p. 1). Although the price of the deal has not yet been disclosed, it is certain that the high-profile sale will offer a level of competitive advantage to the Armand de Brignac brand that no other champagnes have.
The Armand de Brignac champagne already had several competitive advantages, including its history and the romance associated with a small firm producing elite products with only 20 employees (Petroff, 2014). Bottles of the flagship label “Ace of Spaces” sell for about $300 each. Thus, the Armand de Brignac and its Ace of Spades label are positioned well for the luxury market.
With the Jay Z. purchase, Armand de Brignac now boasts several more features to add to its competitive advantage. For one, Jay Z. had already featured the brand in his music videos. He had already been marketing the brand. The brand is now associated with the upward mobility of African-Americans, and it can become a symbol for personal empowerment. Interestingly, Jay Z. had previously touted Cristal champagne, using it in his music videos and promoting it for free. When the head of the Cristal company told The Economist that “hip-hop artists were tarnishing the high-end brand,” Jay Z. promptly dropped his support for the company. Now, Cristal has a powerful disadvantage in the champagne market as it will be viewed by consumers as a racist and classist label, compared with Jay Z’s Armand de Brignac. Jay Z. has been ranked as “among the most powerful celebrities in the world,” and his wife Beyonce “tops the Forbes ranking and was recently named the top-earning woman in the music industry,” (Petroff, 2014). A champagne company in France cannot buy such panache; the Armand de Brignac label now possesses a competitive advantage over the other brands that can be deemed out of date or out of touch with the new generation of consumers. Customer support for a brand is one of the keys to having competitive advantage, which has been described as a way to “to generate greater sales or margins and/or retain more customers than its competition,” (“Competitive Advantage,” n.d.).
Jay Z’s purchase of the brand adds a celebrity marker to what was already a luxury product. The Armand de Brignac Ace of Spades also has a flashy packaging that its competitor products do not have. Because of its being positioned for the luxury market, the Ace of Spades label has “differential advantage,” as opposed to “comparative advantage.” Comparative advantage is what Wal-Mart hopes to have over its competitors: advantage in being able “to produce a good or service at a lower cost than its competitors, which gives the firm the ability sell its goods or services at a lower price than its competition or to generate a larger margin on sales,” (“Competitive Advantage,” n.d.). Paying its workers next to nothing and focusing on cheap goods, Wal-Mart succeeds on this level.
What Jay Z. is doing is offering differential advantage, which is “created when a firm’s products or services differ from its competitors and are seen as better than a competitor’s products by customers,” (“Competitive Advantage,” n.d.). There is a niche market for Ace of Spades. The brand name recognition will be extraordinarily high for the Ace of Spades because Jay Z. has already been promoting the label. Moreover, consumers may also appreciate the fact that the Armand de Brignac company has a long history and an artisanal image that will provide sustainable competitive advantage even if Jay Z. were to eventually sell.
“Competitive Advantage,” (n.d.). Retrieved online: http://www.investopedia.com/terms/c/competitive_advantage.asp
Petroff, A. (2014). Jay Z. likes $300 champagne. So he buys the company. CNN. Retrieved online: http://money.cnn.com/2014/11/06/luxury/jay-z-champagne-beyonce/index.html?iid=HP_Highlight
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