Rimowa: The Making of a High-Flying Luggage Brand

Rimowa: The Making of a High-Flying Luggage Brand

Rimowa products are often referred to as “Porsche among suitcases”. And with good reason: their smallest hand luggage sized model now costs about 400 Euro. For an aluminium version, modeled after the historical original, you even need to fork out up to 800 Euro. Nevertheless, the suitcases with the famous groove design are conquering more and more luggage carousels and can be found in First as well as in Economy Class. Why? We take a closer look at the Rimowa phenomenon.

Rimowa is anything but a new player in the luggage market. Founded as a saddlery by Paul Morszeck in 1898 in Cologne, Germany, the Rimowa brand name (abbreviation for Richard Morszeck trademark) was first registered by his son and successor Richard, in 1931. Soon, Rimowa began to experiment with lighter, more stable materials, including aluminum. The typical, trademarked groove look is modeled after the outer skin of the former Junkers F13 aircraft. In 2000, an even lighter version made of polycarbonate was presented. Rimowa grew alongside the boom in the travel industry. After its takeover by luxury goods group LVMH 2017 and a rebranding in 2018 marking the company’s 120th anniversary, the leap to lifestyle brand was complete. How did Rimowa do it?
Quality & Service: A product to stand the test of time
In the 1920s, Rimowa suitcases were already all about quality and longevity. An important part of this was their service: over 200 service centers offer repairs, and Rimowa also works with upscale hotel chains to help with any luggage issues. This led to a high level of loyalty among the customers who took their faithful companion on the road for decades.
Emotion & Innovation: More than just luggage
While a suitcase itself is very functional in nature, it is also associated with many emotions. Travel is always a special experience for leisure travelers, an adventure that creates many memories over years and are transferred to the suitcase. Every dent, every sticker becomes a signal for your travel experience. The classic design and longevity of the product feed into these emotions. Professional travelers in turn pick up a Rimowa for comfort and innovation. In 1976, the company developed the first water and dust-proof photo case. At the end of the 90s, Rimowa started looking for even lighter products to substitute for their aluminum cases. In 2000, the polycarbonate version was finally presented – almost at the same time as the travel industry started to boom.
Growth: Soaring after the LMHV take-over
Traveling has become a necessity for professionals and a status symbol for Generation X and Y. Coupled with lower airfares, these trends fueled the travel industry’s growth – and the demand for long-lasting, stylish luggage. For a time, Rimowa even produced in three shifts, six days a week with delivery times of 10 to 12 weeks. In 2017, it was finally taken over by the French luxury goods conglomerate LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy). Since then, Rimowa’s management has focused even more strongly on growing their brand’s value – by a thorough rebranding and some spectacular collaborations.
Marketing: New branding for new target groups
Rimowa has always heavily relied on product placement, with over 250 film productions featuring their products. But also influencers such as the German national football team or the 1st FC Cologne promoted the rise of Rimowa as a lifestyle brand among a younger target group. In 2018, just in time for the company’s 120th anniversary, the somewhat outdated brand received a comprehensive overhaul. Its message: Functional luxury designed primarily to appeal to affluent globetrotters who see their suitcase as a fashion accessory. But also people with less disposable income, investing in a long-lasting high-end product, are addressed. Flagship stores offer the shopping experience to match.
Co-operations: Image transfer
Rimowa has always partnered with high-quality brands, including Lufthansa and Porsche. Now they target the millennials: offering personalization of a Rimowa suitcase or by working with popular „New Cool“ labels such as Off-White, Supreme or Anti Social Social Club. Marketing decisions that some disapprove, as they perceive them a threat to the brand core based on innovation, style and sustainability by relying too much on lifestyle and hyped labels. So far, the Rimowa brand is still flying high. It will be interesting to see where the brand lands in the long term.

Take-aways from Rimowa: Our MARMIND Top Tips
Convince with a good product – successful marketing needs a solid foundation.
Charge your brand with emotion – buying decisions are made in the mind and from the heart.
Aim for targeted collaborations – they open up new target groups and / or foster the loyalty of existing ones.

Resources for this article:
https://www.ft.com/content/3583dbf6-e0d7-11e7-a0d4-0944c5f49e46
https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rimowa
https://www.stylepark.com/de/news/rimowa-lvmh-supreme-abloh