Global 360

LVMH Converting Its Perfume Factories To Make Hand Sanitizer

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LVMH announced today that it is converting three of its perfume manufacturing facilities where it normally makes fragrances for its Christian Dior, Givenchy and Guerlain brands to make hand sanitizer instead. The first deliveries will be tomorrow and by the end of the first week, LVMH expects to have made 12 tons of the hydroalcoholic gel. The product will be given at no charge to French authorities and the largest hospital system in Europe.

LVMH is accomplishing several things with this move. It is, of course, responding to a shortage of hand sanitizer. But more than that, it is positioning itself to its consumers and its employees as doing what’s in the public interest. It is also justifying having its factories remain open and keeping its employees coming to work. All of those things make the company more purposeful and less commercial.

What’s so interesting about LVMH’s move is how quickly they are doing it and their understanding of what luxury means right now. Luxury used to be providing the highest quality products—now it means that and more. A true luxury business has to fill consumers’ needs at the highest level and by converting to hand sanitizer manufacturing, LVMH is doing just that. This moment is unique; at any other time, hand sanitizer for a luxury company would make no sense. But in this moment, perhaps even only this week or month, it’s appropriate and commendable to make what would normally be the most un-luxurious product and LVMH gets that. It is a great example of why they continue to be a leader in luxury.

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It’s also interesting that LVMH did not present its switchover as producing its own branded hand sanitizer. There’s no indication that the hand sanitizer it is producing will be for one of its brands; it appears to be no-named. It’s counter to the idea that everything produced at the company is a luxurious product for high-end consumers. It’s highly flexible thinking that allows management to act in this way.

We are in a time where shutdowns will reduce profits all over the world. That is taking time for people to adjust to because it is happening so rapidly. What’s needed in this moment is for brands to look beyond the profits they are losing and ask what else they can do to preserve their position during this very difficult time for everyone. That’s what LVMH is doing.

What should other brands that have fewer resources than LVMH be doing now? It requires management to look inward and ask: what do I have that could help someone, anyone, right now? What’s in short supply that I have or could get in abundance? That is clearly the approach that LVMH took and it now falls on all of us to ask that question of ourselves.

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