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Do you know Archiduchesse

Just like Michel & Augustin (whom I’ll meet in a few weeks), Archiduchesse is also a brand that receives much attention currently thanks to its products, 100% Made in France men socks.

Archiduchesse is a pretty good example of a brand which was built entirely on Facebook-generated word-of-mouth (WOM). The owner of the company (Patrice …) applies a participative model and even shares the evolution of his turnover with his fans, followers and customers. It may anecdotic but naivety seems to pay.

In some posts on his blog Patrice shares his doubts, daily difficulties, which calls for numerous and sometimes emotional feedbacks from his readers. From a behavioral viewpoint such responses are interesting because they translate the bonds created with the brand. The latter remains however virtual and the communication adopted by Archiduchesse balances this feeling and gives a sense of “friendly” proximity. I don’t whether this is made on purpose but I find in the communication by Archiduchesse some elements of style which may have been inspired by Michel et Augustin. In particular use is made of children’s vocabulary and elements of style.

From an entrepreneurship viewpoint too this venture is interesting because it is a typical good example of the benefits of effectuation processes over causation processes. Rather than defining a goal and then determining the path to achieve this goal and the necessary resources (operational and financial among others), the set of means available is used to produce a valuable outcome. This is reflected by the simplicity of the Archiduchesse online store as well as the limited number of product types (3 types of socks priced at 6€ and 1 type of shoe lace priced at 1€).

My take:

Products are fairly priced (so fairly actually that you may wonder whether this is profitable for Archiduchesse), the “Made in France” quality reassures, the communication plays on affect and is inspired by children’s vocabulary and style.

Archiduchesse actually triggers nostalgic memories (perhaps without knowing it) through the combination of the following:

  • a product “of the past” (not that socks are not used anymore but they are not made in France any longer)
  • very fair prices made possible through a WOM-based communication and an effective cost structure (the owner is located in Saint-Etienne which is by far not the most expensive of French cities)
  • a simple and authenticity-tainted communication style

Archiduchesse is obviously just in its “take-off” phase and is faced with growth pains due to sales increase. The “out of stock” symptom is a logical consequence of this. Other challenges await the firm however when the time will come to consolidate the venture, which will require other types of –financial- investments and the “professionalization” of certain functions within the organization. Nevertheless, until now Archiduchesse did well and I’m eager to see how they will manage the coming months. To be continued …

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Dr. Pierre-Nicolas Schwab is the founder of IntoTheMinds. He specializes in e-commerce, retail and logistics. He is also a research fellow in the marketing department of the Free University of Brussels and acts as a coach for several startups and public organizations. He holds a PhD in Marketing, a MBA in Finance, and a MSc in Chemistry. He can be contacted by email, Linkedin or by phone (+32 486 42 79 42)

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