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Report on Pursuing a Career as a Product Development Manager in Louis Vuitton

History of Louis Vuitton Company

Louis Vuitton started as a company that specialized in making trunks in 1854. The company was founded by Louis Vuitton who had traveled from Anachy to Paris in search for greener pastures. When Vuitton arrived in Paris, he became an apprentice to Monsieur Marechal who was by then the most famous craftsman among people in the low and upper classes in Paris (Gallagher, 1). In 1858, Vuitton developed his first trunk which was popularly known as the Trianon Trunk which had a flat top and bottom. As compared to the previous trunks that had curved ends, the Trianon Trunk allowed water to flow out and was also easy to transport. After the creation of the trunk, Vuitton's brand rapidly gained popularity by the 1860's, and he subsequently opened the largest store for travel items in Paris.

The fame that came with Vuitton's brand attracted Empress Eugenie who was Napoleon III's wife. As one of the most influential women in the world at the time, Vuitton's brand gained more success among the Elite people in continental Europe (Quito, 2). As the end of the 19th century approached, Vuitton's brand had become so magnificent that iconic personalities in various industries such as J.P Morgan, Henri Matisse and the royalty such as the Rothchild's and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor were frequent customers. Following the great success that the Vuitton brand had received, many competitors came up. As such, to achieve product differentiation, Vuitton developed the iconic two-tone brown checked patterns in 1888.

After Vuitton's death in 1892, Georges Vuitton, his son, took over the company who sought to solidify the company's dominance in the market. Between 1896 and 1897, Georges introduced the LV signature monogram which is used as the symbol representing the brand to this day (Talwar, 2). The company grew more in the 19th and 20th centuries, developing traveling bags from various materials and colors. The monogram and the check, however, remains the most critical representations that tell the story of the brand. Between the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century, Georges introduced Louis Vuitton brand to the world. The success of the company resulted after its display during the 1893 Chicago World's fair where it earned positive reception.

After the fair, John Wanamaker who was a departmental store mogul in Chicago started selling the Louis Vuitton (LV) bags in the United States (US). Wanamaker believed to be the person behind the successful establishment and grounding of the LV brand in the US.

In the early years of the 19th century, LV added various travel bag styles to their brand such as the Steamer Bag in 1901, which was a smaller bag that could be kept inside the bigger one to separate clothes (Gallagher, 4). The Steamer bag gave precedence to the development of the modern “Alma Bag”. The Keepall bag which was introduced in 1930 portrayed luxury and style and the Holdall bag was introduced shortly after. LV then introduced the Noe bucket bag that could hold many bottles of champagne and later developed to be an essential bag in people's wardrobes. Later on, in 1965, the Speedy Bag, which was a smaller version of the Keepall bag was launched.

After the mid-20th century, LV trunks were a necessity among people. The increased customer base was accelerated by the gender equality movement that set off during the 1950's. With the changing societal norms, women started working in mainstream organizations as teachers, nurses, and secretaries among other professions (Gallagher, 4). With increased women in the workforce, LV clientele base increased as women improved on the clothes they wore, which were accessorized through the LV handbags that portrayed class and wealth. LV also introduced masculine suitcase and wallets to cover male consumers. Having documented increased success in the last century, Louis Vuitton formed a merger with Moet Chandon and Hennessy in 1987 to create the LVMH Company that has developed over the previous three decades to become the largest luxury conglomerate in the world.

When the world saw the increased entrance of fashion companies in the industry during the 1990's, LV brand market share was threatened. Therefore, the organization had to re-brand itself to enhance sales and retain its market share leading to the hiring of Marc Jacobs. Under the leadership of Jacobs, LV facilitated brand partnerships, re-workings, and collaborations with celebrities to make the monogram popular in the modern fashion industry (Gallagher, 7).  Further, LV increased its portfolio of products by introducing men and women apparel and jewelry into the fashion industry that defined the sustainability of the company in the industry. The clothes designed complimented the bags thus portraying class and opulence. Moreover, Jacobs fostered collaborations of LV with Takashi Murakami and Stephen Spouse that further cemented the dominance of LV in the fashion industry.

It is clear that Louis Vuitton has greatly succeeded in the market industry since its inception in the 19th century. The company is now believed to have a net worth of about 28.1 billion US dollars (Quito, 8). Today, the company is headed by Patrick Louis Vuitton, Vuitton's great-great-grandson, making it the only production company in the world to be under the stewardship of a member from the founder family. Taking precedence from its founder, the company has always hired creative, innovative and visionary directors in succession. Throughout the years, the company has managed to maintain LV as a luxury brand internationally. This has been possible since the company has been able to maintain a balance between selling timeless and fresh products. Therefore, it is safe to believe that LV will keep growing in the coming years and continue to inspire and define luxury in the future.   

While LV has generally experienced success over the years, the company has had to deal with counterfeiting since the 19th century. One of the most prominent imposters was Dapper Dan Company which gained popularity during the 1980's and 1990's. At the time, the company had gained popularity and artists in the entertainment industry such as L. L. Cool J and DMC used to wear the Dapper Dan brand when performing in stage (Talwar, 5). The brand used to produce unique clothing for men such that high-end designers were imitating the products. However, Dapper Dan was sued by the LVMH conglomerate for imitation leading to its closure at the turn of the 21st century.  In addition to Dapper Dan, the fashion world is today filled with counterfeit LV products from street vendors and online sellers. Indeed, the imitators of LV products have gone a notch higher to produce different classes of bags and apparel such as Class A, B, and C products with varying prices that depend on the rate of the authenticity of fakeness.   

The key responsibilities of a product development manager

Product development managers are responsible for guiding the entire lifecycle of a product, from its inception to the end. They are imperative in new products introduction to the market thus facilitating the survival of the firm in the industry. New product introduction in the market follows various stages such as the development of an idea, evaluation of the market, development of the product, testing the product and launching it in the target market (Bhuiyan, 747). The management of these stages is paramount since it gives the product managers the skills to assess and re-assess the decision to launch the product at a specific time. Information gathering enables the product development managers to gather and evaluate valuable information regarding the product thus limiting the risk involved in committing resources to products that will eventually fail in the market.

Generally, product development managers are involved in developing products by identifying the potential products, carrying out research on behalf of the company, generating the requirements needed for the product, determining the various specifications, introducing timelines for the launch and marketing of the product and the pricing mechanism. Ernst et al. (80) stated that effective collaboration between the marketing and research and development functions of the firm facilitates success when introducing new products in the market. Product development managers need to have competencies in project management, be focused on the consumers, effective communicators and have collaboration skills to work efficiently. They also ought to be efficient problem solvers, strategic thinkers, involved in diversity and inclusion activities and effective decision makers. Basically, product development managers direct the company's product development strategies through the use of quality tools. Such strategies ensure that valuable and quality products are availed to consumers.   

Some of the specific responsibilities of product development managers include determining the needs and desires of the consumers. Such responsibilities are inferred by researching to obtain information regarding the market. Bhuiyan (748) noted that product development managers are also involved in recommending the direction that the current and future product lines will follow by reviewing the product specifications and facilitating the implementation of new ideas such as the changes in packaging products. Besides, product development managers assess the nature of competition in the market by comparing the statistics of a specific product with other competitor products. The information gained enables them to know the company's market share in the industry through working in close relation with sales directors.

Moreover, product development managers develop both short-term and long-term product sales forecasts by making an analysis of the product in the market. They are also involved in launching new products to the market by balancing the consumer tasks and preferences with the organizational needs to make profits (Ernst et al. 80). In addition, product development manager's rolls out effective plans that facilitate the timely introduction of a new product in the market, the advertising that needs to accompany the launching and the estimated periodical sales. The pricing strategies developed are determined by the existing data in the industry and comparing this with the cost of production and the anticipated volume of sales. During the processes of idea development, the creation of a new product and its introduction in the market, product development managers ensure the appropriate allocation of resources in all phases.

Additionally, product development managers are involved in sustaining the functioning of the production department through the recruitment, selection, orientation, and training of employees. Essentially, product development managers supervise the working of the subordinate employees in their department. Also, they ensure good performance among the employees in the product development line through rewarding and punishing employees according to their performance (Bhuiyan, 748). Product development managers maintain their professional and technical knowledge by attending workshops, reading materials related to product management and establishing personal networks with people in the same line of work. Such initiatives help to affirm their professional stand and development while working in an organization. Also, they collaborate with other team members to accomplish the objectives of the firm.  

Education requirements required for one to pursue a career in product development management

Individuals are required to have a bachelor's degree in any business related field. Some of the business fields include marketing, communication, public relations, economics, advertising, statistics, and management. A product manager may also be adopted from other fields such as technology and agriculture if he/she manages products related to such industries. About 20% of the product development managers work for 20 hours weekly and earn a salary of about 84, 000 dollars annually (Wright, 4). However, the compensation may vary according to individual qualifications, experiences, and size of the organization.

Why I would be a successful product development manager

I understand that a product development manager is involved in the overall manufacturing, marketing, promotional and organizational strategies that facilitate the success of a product in the market. Essentially, a product development manager develops an effective, strategic and sustainable plan that targets a specific consumer audience and also creates tactical strategies that can promote the product among the target consumers (Wright, 2). As such, a product manager needs to have excellent skills in effective leadership such as communication, collaboration, conflict resolution, and teamwork. Such skills are needed since a product manager has the responsibility of working with various departments such as sales, advertising, research and development, shipping and public relations among others.  

Effective leadership skills are essential among product development managers since they need to manage various departments and employees. I believe that I have the appropriate skills that can facilitate my working in the management of product development. I believe in developing open networks of communication with team members to foster cooperation. While working as a group, I always ensure that every person has a fair share of raising concerns, opinions, and ideas. This practice ensures that at the end of the day, every individual is satisfied with the implementation of practical opinions. Effective communication reduces instances of destructive conflicts that might jeopardize the functioning of a team. While conflicts are normal occurrences in our everyday life, I believe that they need to be solved in their early stages to avoid their escalation that negatively affects the functioning of the firm.   

I also believe that I can be a good product development manager since I am have high analytical skills and I'm also an efficient time manager. Organizations keep developing new products that enhance their survival in the industry. The success of a product leans on its efficient production, advertisement, and presentation to the consumers (Wright, 3). More importantly, the products should meet the consumer tastes, preferences and expectations and also be availed in the right shape, time and quality. The product development manager should hence ensure that the right monetary resources are used at the right time to facilitate the success of the product in the market. Delays in launching products can severely affect the sales which in turn interferes with the company's market share in the industry.

I also possess skills that enable me to effectively deal with distressing situations in the work environment which is an essential skill that can enhance my performance as a product development manager. I believe that to maintain high performance in an organization, an individual needs to strike a work/ life balance. As a manager, I would seek to understand the personal challenges that employees are going through and involve the necessary parties in solving their problems. Also, I would ensure that employees are offered safe working places to reduce workplace accidents that may be costly to the firm. I believe that the sustainability of the firm can be promoted through the enhancement of employee physical and psychological wellbeing.  

In addition, I have computer skills that are necessary when ordering products, communicating with consumers and analyzing organizational data. In the fast developing technological world, computer skills are imperative while conducting any business activity. Computers have eased the traditional paperwork due to their ability to store massive data and easing the retrieval process. As such, I believe that knowing the functioning of the computer can enhance my performance in the firm during the process of product development. Moreover, I have general knowledge in various business fields such as marketing and advertisement which are paramount for a person seeking to be a product development manager. These skills result from my passion of being a successful business person that started during my childhood years. As such, I have always sought knowledge from various materials in both online and offline mass media platforms such as journals, newspapers, books and television programs. Therefore, I believe that through this acquired knowledge, I can be an effective product development manager.   

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