By Brecken Branstrator
Tiffany & Co. enlisted singer Lady Gaga to star in a Super Bowl commercial this year--a first for the brand--amid efforts to refresh its image.
New York--Tiffany & Co. stepped into the consumer media spotlight recently, though it might not have been exactly the story it was looking for.

In a profile published July 9, The Wall Street Journal dove into the jeweler’s struggle with losing its “cool” factor, including the February ouster of CEO Frederic Cumenal.

The challenges the company faces stem from, the WSJ story states, “a stubborn perception”--the brand is no longer seen as “cool” and is struggling to regain that image.

Cumenal was tapped to take over the CEO position about two years ago to help grow the brand and refresh its image, the WSJ said.

There were a number of ways he attempted to do this, which included not only getting Lady Gaga on board for a new collection and a Super Bowl ad that ran this year, but also establishing a partnership with former Vogue creative director Grace Coddington.

The retailer’s footprint also was widened beyond its usual brick-and-mortar presence to make designs available at places like hip boutique Dover Street Market and on luxury e-commerce site Net-a-Porter.

And yet, despite all of the changes that have been made, sales have been weak at Tiffany & Co. for the past couple of years.

So what continues to ail the company, according to the WSJ? It’s the fact that nearly one-half of its sales last year came from jewelry with an average price point of $530 or less, a factor that analysts believe could hurt the air of “exclusivity” it previously enjoyed.

Additionally, new designs represented less than 10 percent of jewelry sales in 2016, indicating that even when Tiffany does introduce new pieces--which, at its current rate, still isn’t happening that often--the changes they’re making to update legacy pieces don’t offer enough newness and difference for today’s consumer.

Michael Kowalski, the Tiffany chairman who’s serving as interim CEO until a replacement for Cumenal is named, responded directly to the issues brought up by the Wall Street Journal for the article, stating that he believes that the wide variety of prices and styles offered by Tiffany are a strength for the company and that it has struck the right balance between high- and low-end offerings.

He also said that some of its legacy styles, like those by Jean Schlumberger and Elsa Peretti, continue to be bestsellers.

Figuring out what to do with such a wide array of product while aiming to refresh the brand’s image will be the main job of the next CEO, which Tiffany is expected to announce soon, the WSJ said.

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