The cheapest handbags sold by the most luxurious brands are too expensive

An employee holds an Hermes diamond and Himalayan Nilo Crocodile Birkin handbag at Heritage Auctions offices in Beverly Hills, California September 22, 2014. The handbag has 242 diamonds with a total of 9.84 carats.
REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

It’s easy to lump all Gucci’s and all Louis Vuitton’s together.

But the price points these luxury brands offer vary substantially. Some brands like Fendi price their entry-level bags in the €300 ($330) range, while others like Prada set the prices around €700 ($771) – more than twice as expensive.

And, notably, Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s research analyst Sherri Malek believes the brands like Prada who keep their entry-level prices way higher than their competitors are hurting themselves.

“[T]he entry-price handbag for Prada is 40% higher than for Gucci and 80% higher than for Louis Vuitton,” Malek writes in a recent note to clients. “This increases our concerns around Prada’s pricing strategy: elevating the brand so that it potentially alienates the ‘accessible’ segment of its customer base, which could later become core customers.”

Interestingly, Prada’s management attributes the brand’s recent underperformance partially to a “sub-optimal merchandising mix, primarily an incomplete product offer in the lower and higher product range (i.e. above €1,000 ($1,100) and €1,400-1,600 ($1,545-$1765)).”

However, Malek notes that Prada should also take some time to think about its “incomplete product offering” in the below €1,000 range – since all of its major competitors have a presence in that price range.

Bank of America, Merrill Lynch