research@hec - Issue #30 - (Page 4)
luxury brand marketing
The luxury market:
A development opportunity for the nomads of the Tibetan Plateau?
Year after year, the economic situation of the nomads of the Tibetan Plateau deteriorates. In response, the Norlha project, which means “providence,” was launched in 2006. It aims to add value to yak wool by creating very high quality products for the luxury market. Anne Michaut-Denizeau reveals how the luxury market can help to provide outlets for handicraft and improve the standard of living of poor populations.
Anne-Michaut Denizeau is associate professor of marketing and executive director of the Luxury Certificate at HEC Paris. She is particularly interested in the areas of innovation, sustainable development, and marketing in the luxury industry.
Since 1950, pastoralism has intensified in the Tibetan plateau. Sheep and yaks have become so abundant that they have permanently polluted rivers. Overgrazing has led to desertification, resulting in an increased risk of flooding. Nomadic pastoralists have become China’s poorest population, now unable to afford even the yak wool that they wove for centuries. Traditional knowledge has almost disappeared alongside a rural exodus. In this context, three people came together in 2005 to create Norlha: Kim Yeshi, an anthropologist specialized in Tibetan culture and Asian textile; Jean-Marc Guesné, a graduate of HEC’s Masters in Sustainable Development; and Jean-Pierre Martial, former manager and founder of “Artisans d’Angkor,” a Cambodian arts and crafts company that preserves local traditional knowhow and employs 1,000 people. They were convinced that the redevelopment of yak wool could create new social, economic, and environmental value.
NORHLA, AN INTEGRATED PROJECT OF ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT At the time, the founding team gave itself four objectives: to provide well-paid work to nomads; to prevent rural exodus; to improve cattle management and valorization of raw materials; and,
finally, to address desertification and river pollution. They believe that this initiative could have long-term impact on the Tibetan nomadic community as a whole. But first, a pilot project that can be duplicated must prove its sustainability. In 2006, the three founders decided to launch the project in the village of Zorgey Ritoma, situated at an altitude of 3,200 meters in the Amdo region. The village has 1,500 inhabitants, 10,000 yaks, and 25,000 sheep. Guesné, who took the lead of the project, imagined a solution of territorial, economic, social, and political integration. He created a company to manage the project and founded the ZAAMA association to represent the interests of village nomads and to facilitate financial support from donors. Meanwhile the Chinese government built a new road to the village. A first team was trained in Cambodia in khu processing techniques (see box “The key role of yaks in the Tibetan plateau culture”) by the Artisans d’Angkor, and then received additional training in Nepal. Back in their village, they trained in turn 60 future employees. In November 2007, after the harvesting of khu and khullu, a gray and beige material that is more rare and of superior quality, the workshop was ready for production. Contrary to expectations, the work-
• December 2012 - January 2013
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of research@hec - Issue #30
Cover & Contents
Financial analysts: Are they useful after all?
The luxury market: A development opportunity for the nomads of the Tibetan Plateau?
Entrepreneurship: When overconfidence favors riskier bets
research@hec - Issue #30