Hugo Boss isn't cool anymore

Hugo Boss isn't the leader it used to be.

Newly appointed CEO of Hugo Boss Mark Langer says the 92-year-old German brand will be abandoning its attempt to become a true luxury brand.

"The effort to make in-roads in the luxury market didn't prove to be particularly helpful for our business," Langer said in an interview with German language newspaper Handelsblatt, according to Reuters.

Langer assured Handelsblatt that the company would remain a premium brand, however, just not quite what it was aspiring to be.

This comes after a concentrated effort by former CEO Claus-Dietrich Lahrs in recent years to diversify the previously menswear-focused retailer and take it further upmarket as the worldwide luxury market expanded in the early-to-mid 2010s.

That move didn't sit well with customers, according to a new UBS report. In survey, 59% of customers reported they abandoned the brand because either the styles were no longer appealing or they began to like other brand's styles more — compared to 43% last year.

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10 brands American consumers love

10. Sephora

This may be the most surprising name in the top 10, but Prophet explained that "Sephora has won women over by making beauty shopping an interactive experience, and it [has] outdone itself this year." The researchers cited its new small-store format as well as its "Tinder-esque" "swipe it, shop it" approach on its app, as leading to dramatically increased sales as well as its place on this list. 

Photo credit: Reuters

9. Pixar

Beating out its parent company, Disney, Pixar overcame its first relative flop The Good Dinosaur to rebound with the mega success of Finding Dory. "In an era of content overload, Pixar doesn't need gimmicks to keep audiences engaged," wrote the research firm. "It sticks to its strength: Animated films featuring charming characters and entertaining storylines that are beloved by all."

Photo credit: Getty

6. Samsung

Despite the problems it had with its Galaxy Note 7, where exploding phones led to a recall, Samsung (NASDAQOTH: SSNLF) remains a relevant brand. "Tech snobs love its superior quality, with better pixel density and camera size," wrote Prophet. "And the masses love the freedom of choice, with 50 phones available at a variety of price points." The researcher did note that the recalls might slow its growth going forward.

Photo credit: Reuters

5. Google

It's hard to use the internet without using Google. Consumers did not rank the company this high because of its experiments like self-driving cars. Instead the research found that "people love Google for its fierce pragmatism." Prophet found that Google's "tools have become essential to our everyday lives: Chrome, Gmail, Google Maps, Google Docs and, of course, search."

Photo credit: Getty

4. Netflix

It's fair to say that the streaming leader has changed how people watch television. Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX) created the concept of binge watching by releasing full seasons of new shows all at once and it made cutting the cord with cable viable for millions of people. "Whether NarcosChelsea, or Stranger Things, its content appeals to nearly every customer segment. And viewers all agree: Netflix is off the charts in dependability and delivering a consistent brand experience," the research company wrote. 

Photo credit: Getty

3. Android

Even though Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) gets more attention, Android has over 85% of the global smartphone market. Prophet said the brand ranked this high because "people love Android's ease of use and warm, welcoming advertising." 

Photo credit: Getty

1. Apple

While Apple coming out on top may not be a surprise, Prophet explained that the brand was truly dominant. "What's astonishing is that Apple comes up No. 1 in three out of four dimensions that drive relevance -- even in a down year," the research firm wrote. The company's four dimensions are "customer obsessed," "ruthlessly pragmatic," "distinctively inspired," and "pervasively innovative." "It is still the gold standard for practical innovation," Prophet wrote. 

Photo credit: Reuters


"The relatively high levels of these answers were an early confirmation to us that the brand elevation was not working and we agree with management's decision to focus back on premium," UBS says.

Perception of the brand has also fallen sharply in the last year, with only 20% of those surveyed responding that Hugo Boss was a cool and fashionable brand, compared to nearly 40% a year ago.

This comes amid a harsh worldwide slump in the luxury market, especially affecting the US and Chinese markets and prompting Hugo Boss's shift. Apparel — especially luxury — just seems like less of a priority for purchase than technology or a nice vacation in the eyes of many consumers.

This is primarily blamed on changing buying habits, with more shoppers — even affluent ones — preferring logo-free clothing and fast fashion to luxury apparel. Fast fashion has seemed to replace department store shoppingeven if it's not always cheaper.

Other factors affecting the worldwide luxury slowdown, like economic and political uncertainty in the US and changing tastes in China, have contributed to the tough times.

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