How Swarovski dismantles its brand

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Swarovski is a well known brand for jewellery around the world. The great marketing idea of applying techniques used for diamonds to glass made the company big and rich. These “techniques” are not only technical but also marketing skills. They sell you low cost glass at a high value by giving it the touch of exclusivity. They sell not only jewellery but also figurines and much much more – from beautiful to awful everything is covered.

Now I for myself don’t care much about the Swarovski hype – I don’t like much of the design and the associated prices – but I respect the marketing effort and how well they constructed their brand over the last 50 years. About 15 years ago they opened their “Kristallwelten” (crystal worlds). A sort of museum with works by famous artists inspired by the crystals. Andrè Heller was the curator of this magical place and everyone was delighted.

I will list now in a few words why this “Kristallwelten” is dismantling the brand of Swarovski:

  • It’s expensive – you pay 9.5 Euros (about 13.4 US$ at the time of writing) for getting in. There are 15 tiny rooms with “inspired art”, that’s close to a dollar/room. If a ordinary museum would charge at this prices… and not to forget – this is a marketing stunt, so free entry should be the minimum
  • If you are not interested in the “art” you cannot enter the shop directly – you have to pay to get into the shop basically. Ok, you get 2 Euro off you purchase with the ticket.
  • The so called art is a hoax – maybe 2 or 3 pieces of this exposition is worth the name of art. I studied art and I can tell the difference. They have a separate room for the “gallery” as they call it – the room with real masterpieces from the Swarovski art collection – see the difference in the naming
  • You don’t get any information about the production process or about Swarovski – there is only one room about the jewels itself and this is a little bit frustrating as you go there to learn about Swarovski
  • It’s old – 15 years and nearly no addition. You can tell the date of the art pieces and the updated rooms are just fitted with larger screens.
  • The shop has not all products on stock. The shop is big and they have nearly all products on display, but not all sizes. The factory is 50 meters away, we are at the heart of the Swarovski production site and they are not able to stock the rings on display in all sizes (and they just do S, M, L and XL – not like the jewellery ring sizes which are 22)

    On the good side I have to admit, that the “crystallized” section, where you can buy single items to combine by yourself are quite neat.

  • The prices in the shop are the same all over the world. So if you travel to the Kristallwelten in Austria and you think that the shop nearby the factory is cheaper your wrong. No outlet – no factory sale.

So what is the conclusion – I stumbled out of the Kristallwelten and felt like I’ve been betrayed. The website is actually beautifuler and the respect for the firm was gone. No content for real money and no “magic” and all. Common’ Swarovski – we know it’s a marketing stunt, but don’t take us for fools. Get rid of the entrance fee (or do a full rebate on a purchase) and spice it up with more about the firm.