Innovation & Know-HowAcademic

A new academic certification in Luxury Marketing launches in Lausanne

The luxury sector is changing and requires swiftly adaptable skills. A new certificate of advanced studies in Luxury Marketing (CAS) recently launched at the University of Lausanne.

Cristina D’Agostino

By Cristina D’Agostino14 décembre 2021

The new CAS in Luxury Marketing will start in March 2022 at the University of Lausanne (Shutterstock)
Felicitas Morhart, vice-dean of HEC Lausanne and full professor in the marketing department, director of the new CAS course in Luxury Marketing and founder of the Swiss Center for Luxury Research (SCLR)

The luxury sector is changing and requires for skills to adapt quickly. Gamification, virtual reality, online sales platforms: the digital world is challenging luxury codes which have for long remained stuck in values of scarcity, selective distribution, and ancient savoir-faire. Linear carriers no longer exist. Professionals need to constantly complete their training with new knowledge, master digital marketing, understand data science. And in the luxury field, Switzerland is in good shape to offer several levels of training, increasingly competing with European neighbors. Offered by universities or public schools (HEG-Genève, HEC Lausanne, ECAL) for master’s and bachelor’s degrees, or by private schools such as CREA or ISG Luxury Geneva, even les Roches for luxury management in tourism, some existing certifications are now shorter to facilitate attendance while working at a job. While the CAS in Luxury Management already exists in Zurich at the ZHAW, a new academic certification in luxury marketing debuts at the Lausanne university, driven by the vice-dean of HEC Lausanne and Professor at the marketing department Felicitas Morhart. Since professional reorientations are frequent and skill are quickly becoming obsolete, new types of trainings that are condensed and shorter have become necessary. We met with Thomas Rouaud, marketing and sales director of Executive Education HEC Lausanne, the advanced studies center of HEC Lausanne.

Your department which is integrated to the Lausanne university and oversees creating advanced studies now offers a wide portfolio of certifications. Luxury was still missing. How successful do you expect it to be?

Thomas Rouaud, Marketing and Sales Director of Executive Education, the continuing education centre of HEC Lausanne (DR)

There are about sixty advanced trainings at HEC Lausanne today, be it in management, in finance, in marketing. They are mainly general curriculums, but there are also more specific trainings such as the certificate in data or our new training in luxury marketing which answers to specific needs. We hope thanks to this program that we will be able to offer professionals a true opportunity for development by integrating the latest trends which are disrupting their businesses to their respective day to day life.  

How much are worth these trainings?

Today, executive trainings are valued to generate about 1.5 million francs a year. In 2014, during the launch of our activity, the turnover of these trainings did not surpass 50,000 francs. Professionals of the region truly need advanced trainings and HEC Lausanne is legitimate in this segment. However, we need to distinguish open advanced trainings, available on catalogue, such as our new training in luxury marketing led by Felicitas Morhart, and bespoke trainings, for corporations. The latter represent the main part of our turnover. On this segment, we work with governments, for example when we train managers of the Chinese party, or those of the American federal reserve, as well as with local or international companies such as BCV or UEFA. 

You are challenging IMD and other schools in these fields…

Partly, even though IMD is more international, and is a private institution. HEC Lausanne is a public institution. However, strong ties between institutions exist, including with the creation of Enterprise for Society (E4S) and the joint launch of the Master in Sustainable Management and Technology. To sum up, we have different levels of expertise, but they are complementary, and we don’t necessarily focus on the same markets. On our side, we are mainly positioned on promoting responsible management and horizontal management to allow companies to embrace diversity and agility to evolve the way they are organized. The whole world is aspiring to change, and professionals are often the first ones to demand it.

What is this new training titled?

The Certificat of Advanced Studies in Luxury Marketing (CAS) is a postgraduate university certificate, which is mainly destined for Bachelor or master’s graduates. However, our wish is to also open it to people who do not have these backgrounds but who have very good skills or an excellent professional experience. We hope that thanks to our training programs, we will open academic doors to any motivated and experienced professionals who wish to learn.

What is the target audience that is interested and which you are focused on?

About 4000 people potentially work in luxury marketing, sales or communications in the Leman region. It is a niche market, but we are convinced that today thanks to the expertise of our professors, as well as via the SCLR created by Felicitas Morhart, we offer a true advantage. Switzerland is legitimate on this market, through its multiple industries present on the territory. Opening the CAS beyond our borders is also an option. We are particularly interested in the Chinese market which we know thanks to the CEFC, the skills center of HEC Lausanne created in 2018 and dedicated to Chinese-Swiss collaboration. It is a country where luxury has been greatly increasing and our program could truly be of interest there.

How is this training structured?

It is a standard training with five modules of three days each, seven hours a day. This means 21 hours per module. It is a CAS. Teachers come from the academic field, here three professors for this training (Bruno Kocher UNINE, Florent Girardin EHL and Felicitas Morhart UNIL), as well as personalities from the professional sector. It’s the combination of both types of profiles which constitutes the strength of our programs.

How do you stand out compared to your competitors?

We have several advantages. First, the Swiss Center for Luxury Research (SCLR) based in HEC Lausanne and founded by Felicitas Morhart offers us a network of academic experts, and we are the only ones to offer it at this level, the others are often applied science universities or private institutions. The idea is to promote the SCLR, which is unique. We are convinced that the changes luxury is ongoing today will require adapted trainings and up to date expertise.

Secondly with our format, as the CAS and DAS are new certifications which corporate human resources value very much. These short formats allow to quickly acquire knowledge without investing too much or for too long. It is the ideal format to perfect skills while considering tight schedules.

And finally with our educational experience. Participants will engage in a multisensorial learning method which combines traditional and innovative techniques. They must be able to experiment what they will have to apply.

Some private schools tried to establish themselves, but failed. Why do you think this is?

It is difficult to say. The market is small, and that’s the main challenge for trainings that address very specific needs as this one. We offer means to succeed, by using feedback and adapting our offer if needed. We also work closely with the private sector to develop programs which answer specific company needs. That is the main element which differentiates advanced trainings from regular ones. This program, for example, is sponsored by Cartier which hopes to upskill some of their employees by registering them to the training.

What is the minimum number of participants required for a training to be profitable?

The training costs 9,500 francs (editor’s note: the CAS at ZHAW costs 9,600 francs). We consider launching as of eight to nine registered participants. We will then be far from profitable, which would be the case as of sixteen students. However, we hope the training will eventually take place once a year, from March to July.

Are you supported by the State?

The Lausanne University puts facilities at our disposal, the right to use its logo and access central services in counterpart of a 20% fee lifted from our gross revenue. We are therefore the only ones to manage our destiny and generously pay the services which we are offered. Furthermore, and contrary to other services, we also have a result obligation and the risk, 20,000 francs invested for the launch of this program, is covered by our own funds, based on former profit. In 2014, we only had a few programs, today we total almost sixty thanks to our growth and our startup way of working.

If the Luxury Marketing program doesn’t work, we will try to evolve the training thanks to an agile approach in order to determine the most adapted product for the market. To sum up, it is an idea which is here to last, and we sincerely hope to be able to position ourselves on this market segment. It is also true that the Swiss aura plays an important role. The Swiss made training is attractive to foreigners. Switzerland has a culture of managing wealth which is very specific. It is a rigor brought to luxury. A discreet and secret approach but also iconic. We must teach it and export it.

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