Coach Inc.: From Staid to Stylish

Coach Inc.: From Staid to Stylish
Case Code: BSTR235
Case Length: 23 Pages
Period: 1941-2006
Pub Date: 2006
Teaching Note: Available
Price: Rs.500
Organization: Coach Inc.
Industry: Aviation
Countries: USA
Themes: Textile, Apparel, and Accessories
Coach Inc.: From Staid to Stylish
Abstract Case Intro 1 Case Intro 2 Excerpts


Coach Inc. was a major leather goods company, and one of the few international luxury brands that originated in the US. Since it was set up in 1941, the company had built a reputation for high quality leather bags and accessories. However, despite being highly valued for the quality of its products, over the years the company had lagged behind its competitors on the style dimension. This case discusses the measures taken by Coach to transform itself into a high-end fashion label from a staid leather goods company. It begins with a description of how Coach, which was originally established as a leather manufacturing company in New York, gradually achieved the status of a premium brand as a result of its superior quality leather goods.

In the late 1990s, Coach underwent a major transformation under the management of its CEO Lew Frankfort and designer Reed Krakoff. Under their direction, Coach adopted a unique positioning as an 'accessible luxury brand'. In other words, though the company offered high-end products, their prices were lower than the prices of most other luxury brands in the US. This extended Coach's appeal to a wide range of consumers. This case talks about Coach's product strategy and how the various collections launched in the late 1990s and early 2000s managed to raise the brand to the level of high-end fashion labels like Gucci and LVMH. It discusses Coach's positioning in the market and the company's image building initiatives since the late 1990s. The case also talks about the expansion strategy undertaken by Frankfort, which helped the Coach brand gain visibility in the US and around the world. The case ends with a discussion on whether Coach's unrestricted expansion and its unique pricing strategy might dilute the Coach brand in future.


The case is structured to achieve the following teaching objectives

  • To understand the strategy adopted by a company to transform itself from a leather goods manufacturer into a premium fashion brand
  • To study the issues involved in sustaining a premium image for a brand, even while reaching out to a larger market
  • To understand the role played by product innovation in the success of a fashion goods company



Coach Inc., Modern American classic , Luxury fashion brand, Positioning, Mass-oriented luxury brands, Miles Cahn, Sara Lee Corp., Lew Frankfort, Reed Krakoff, Leather goods, Product expansion, Product innovation, Accessible luxury, LVMH, Market Research

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