NYU Stern School of Business

Undergraduate College

MKTG-UB.0085.001 (C55.0085): Luxury Marketing

Fall 2012

Instructor Details

Serdari, Thomai


Tuesday 10 am to 11 am

Silver 303



With ten years experience in teaching Methods of Research in the Honors program, Thomaï Serdari is an expert in articulating new research questions and defining interdisciplinary areas of inquiry. At the intersection of fine arts and commerce, luxury arts is a new area within which Professor Serdari developed the core course for the Luxury Marketing specialization at Stern.

Professor Serdari is currently working on her forthcoming book “Entrepreneurship in the Arts,” while she maintains an independent practice as a USPAP qualified appraiser in the fine and luxury arts. In addition to “ The Core of Luxury: Processes, Products, and Strategies through History,” Professor Serdari teaches “Cultures of Excess: Product and Fashion Design through Modernity,” “Research Methods,” and “Entrepreneurship in the Business of Art.”

Research Interests

  • Luxury Marketing
  • Entrepreneurship
  • New Business Models in Fashion, Art, Media, and Entertainment


Carey Wikstrom





Course Meetings

W, 6:30pm to 7:45pm

Tisch T-UC21

Final Exam:

Schedule exceptions
    Class will not meet on:
    Class will meet on:


Course Description and Learning Goals

As the core course for the Luxury Marketing specialization at Stern, this class is designed to provide students with an understanding of the fundamentals of luxury. When was the concept of luxury first articulated and what did it mean within its various manifestations? Who were the luxury consumers in pre-modern cultures and what were the events that catapulted luxury into the sociopolitical discourse? How did modernity affect ancient processes associated with the production of luxury products? How did the products, consumer tastes, material exchanges, and producer strategies evolved through history? How has the luxury industry evolved through time and what is at its core?


            According to a common dictum, a luxury brand is a bridge between the past and the future. By the end of this course students will have developed:


a.     An understanding of the luxury segment of the market as it applies to a variety of industries (decorative objects, accessories, jewelry, beauty products, hospitality, automotive—fashion will be discussed as well but the discussion will be limited to the true luxury fashion houses)

b.     Observation skills that will allow them to distinguish what constitutes luxury in a product (regardless of industry)

c.      The necessary vocabulary to articulate the nuances that differentiate these products and the ability to do so with clarity and precision in terms of technique, design, and materials

d.     The critical skills to identify potential new luxury products and how they relate to a variety of markets, including emerging markets.


Course Outline

Class #1            Course introduction

09/05                        Definition of the following terms: brand, luxury, luxury brand


Read:                         Come prepared to discuss your favorite luxury brands

                        Kapferer, Chapters. 1-3           


Class #2            Methodological approaches to understanding luxury



Read                        Jeremy Jennings, “The Debate about Luxury in Eighteenth- and                                                 Nineteenth Century French Political Thought,” Journal of the History of                         Ideas, Vol. 68, no. 1, January 2007, pp. 79-105. (Under: Bibliography)

Pierre Bourdieu, Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgment of Taste, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1984, pp. 260-315


Class #3            Industry segmentation: products and product categories



Read            Kapferer, Chapters 4-5



Class #4            Craftsmanship: How are things made and why it matters



Read            Nancy F. Koehn, “Josiah Wedgwood and the First Industrial Revolution,” in Thomas K. McGraw ed. Creating Modern Capitalism: How Entrepreneurs, Companies, and Countries Triumphed in Three Industrial Revolutions, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1995, pp. 17-48

                        Philipp Blom. To Have and to Hold: An Intimate History of Collectors and Collecting, Woodstock & New York: The Overlook Press, 2002, pp. 12-26           


Class #5            Approaches to customer segmentation



Read            Kapferer, Chapters 6-8


Class #6            Masculine v. Feminine: The luxury of “war”

10/10            From Arms & Armor to Yachts and Cars


Read            Harvard Business Case: “Prudence and Audacity: The House of Beretta”


Class #7            East vs. West: What does Culture have to do with luxury



Read            Kapferer, Chapters 9-11

                        Harvard Business Case: “Louis Vuitton in Japan”



Class #8            Aesthetics and Ephemerality: A new theory on luxury



Read            Berthon, P. et al. “Aesthetics and Ephemerality:  Observing and Preserving the luxury brand”

                        Kapferer, Chapters 12-14


Class #9            In-class midterm QUIZ



Class #10            Jewelry & luxury watches: Guest speaker Jon Omer



Read            Lent, Robin and Genevieve Tour. Selling Luxury, Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2009


Class #11            Fashion: Is it luxury or not? Is it French or not?



Read            Nicky Ryan, “Prada and the Art of Patronage,” in Fashion Theory, Vol. 11, no. 1, March 2007, pp. 7-23

                        Harvard Business Case: “Oscar de la Renta”           




Class #12            Les grandes maisons de beauté—What’s so different about American beauty?

11/21            Harvard Business Case: “Estée Lauder and the Market for Prestige Cosmetics”

                        Kapferer, Chapters 15-16



Class #13            Books, Art, Accessories



Read            Harvard Business Case: “Vertu: Nokia’s Luxury Mobile Phone for the Urban Rich,”           



Class #14            Hospitality: The Destination; The Brand Extension: The Experience

12/05            Conclusions


Required Course Materials


Kapferer, Jean-Noel and V. Bastien. The Luxury Strategy, London: Kogan Press, 2008.


Lent, Robin and Genevieve Tour. Selling Luxury, Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2009


Recommended text: Zinsser, William. On Writing Well, New York: Harper Collins, 2006.


There is also a reader containing five Harvard Business Cases. Articles and book excerpts used for the course will be posted on Blackboard under the tab “Bibliography.”  Supplementary readings may be distributed in class or posted on Blackboard.


Assessment Components

            Quiz                                              20%

            Reading summaries                        25% (Check Blackboard for guidelines)

            Class participation                          25%

            Final paper                                     30% (Instructions under: Assignments)


Group Projects

Guidelines for Group Projects

Business activities involve group effort. Consequently, learning how to work effectively in a group is a critical part of your business education.

Every member is expected to carry an equal share of the group’s workload. As such, it is in your interest to be involved in all aspects of the project. Even if you divide the work rather than work on each piece together, you are still responsible for each part. The group project will be graded as a whole:   its different components will not be graded separately. Your exams may contain questions that are based on aspects of your group projects.

It is recommended that each group establish ground rules early in the process to facilitate your joint work including a problem-solving process for handling conflicts. In the infrequent case where you believe that a group member is not carrying out his or her fair share of work, you are urged not to permit problems to develop to a point where they become serious. If you cannot resolve conflicts internally after your best efforts, they should be brought to my attention and I will work with you to find a resolution.

You will be asked to complete a peer evaluation form to evaluate the contribution of each of your group members (including your own contribution) at the conclusion of each project. If there is consensus that a group member did not contribute a fair share of work to the project, I will consider this feedback during grading.



            Quiz                                                20%

            Reading summaries                        25% (Check Blackboard for guidelines)

            Class participation                        25%

            Final paper                                    30% (Instructions under: Assignments)



The process of assigning grades is intended to be one of unbiased evaluation. Students are encouraged to respect the integrity and authority of the professor’s grading system and are discouraged from pursuing arbitrary challenges to it.

If you believe an inadvertent error has been made in the grading of an individual assignment or in assessing an overall course grade, a request to have the grade re-evaluated may be submitted. You must submit such requests in writing to me within 7 days of receiving the grade, including a brief written statement of why you believe that an error in grading has been made.


Professional Responsibilities For This Course




In-class contribution is a significant part of your grade and an important part of our shared learning experience. Your active participation helps me to evaluate your overall performance.
You can excel in this area if you come to class on time and contribute to the course by:




Classroom Norms


Stern Policies

General Behavior
The School expects that students will conduct themselves with respect and professionalism toward faculty, students, and others present in class and will follow the rules laid down by the instructor for classroom behavior.  Students who fail to do so may be asked to leave the classroom. 


Collaboration on Graded Assignments
Students may not work together on graded assignment unless the instructor gives express permission. 


Course Evaluations
Course evaluations are important to us and to students who come after you.  Please complete them thoughtfully.


Academic Integrity

Integrity is critical to the learning process and to all that we do here at NYU Stern. As members of our community, all students agree to abide by the NYU Stern Student Code of Conduct, which includes a commitment to:

The entire Stern Student Code of Conduct applies to all students enrolled in Stern courses and can be found here:

Undergraduate College: http://www.stern.nyu.edu/uc/codeofconduct
Graduate Programs: http://w4.stern.nyu.edu/studentactivities/involved.cfm?doc_id=102505

To help ensure the integrity of our learning community, prose assignments you submit to Blackboard will be submitted to Turnitin.  Turnitin will compare your submission to a database of prior submissions to Turnitin, current and archived Web pages, periodicals, journals, and publications.  Additionally, your document will become part of the Turnitin database.


Recording of Classes

Your class may be recorded for educational purposes


Students with Disabilities

If you have a qualified disability and will require academic accommodation of any kind during this course, you must notify me at the beginning of the course and provide a letter from the Moses Center for Students with Disabilities (CSD, 998-4980, www.nyu.edu/csd) verifying your registration and outlining the accommodations they recommend.  If you will need to take an exam at the CSD, you must submit a completed Exam Accommodations Form to them at least one week prior to the scheduled exam time to be guaranteed accommodation.


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