Q&A with Marco Bizzarri, President and CEO, Gucci

2016 was the year that marked a luxury reset on a global scale. In your perspective, what are the main factors that have been influencing the industry recently? 

Luxury fashion had been stuck in a rut with old traditions and conventions dictating the industry, which provided the opportunity for a disruption, a willingness to change. Challenging the status quo. Doing things differently, both in terms of running the business and creatively. Putting the emphasis clearly on creativity and innovation, a compelling and consistent brand narrative and an empowered corporate culture are, I think, the differentiating factors in the industry today.

Gucci has reinvented itself several times during its history and, today, guided by Alessandro Michele’s creative vision, it has succeeded in positioning the brand at the vanguard of the industry. What are the main challenges you have faced this year and what do you foresee for 2018?

In 2015, we focused ourselves entirely on reestablishing Gucci’s credentials as a fashion authority. In the following two years, we challenged ourselves to innovate and reinvent the way of doing business: unifying our women’s and men’s collections; eliminating markdowns; putting our customers at the center, through retail excellence across all channels; embracing the digital world wholeheartedly; and through a company culture driven by passion and joy in what we do. The challenge we have set ourselves for the year ahead is to continue the momentum we have established through a mentality that seeks constant innovation and disruption.

Gucci has exposed exceptional financial results, posting record revenue growth of 51.4% in the first quarter of 2017, with strong performance from all regions and product categories. What has been the most important growth driver for your company this year?

The fact that we are seeing such growth across all categories and regions indicates that we have been able to establish a unique and compelling brand positioning and narrative that is engaging a wide cross-section of luxury customers across various nationalities and demographics. That narrative is built on an unequivocal focus on creativity and in delivering a joyful and outstanding customer experience.

Gucci’s innovative approach to digital is recognized globally, and, in 2016, the brand was ranked number one in the L2 Fashion Digital IQ Index. What special initiatives and innovative partnerships have helped boost online sales growth and increase social media engagement?

As I said earlier, the willingness to comprehensively embrace digital in all aspects of our business, especially the way we communicate the brand narrative, has been a top priority of our strategy.

From a significant shift in investment behind digital media to a completely re-platformed and redesigned website that is now offering a unique narrative-inspired e-commerce experience in all major luxury consumer markets around the world to innovative social media initiatives such as “#GucciGram, #24HourAce, and #guccimeme, we have committed ourselves to a digitally focused strategy—again, underpinned by consistency and coherence across all platforms.

What aspect of your brand has served as a source of strength internally in these remarkable last 12 months?

The driving force behind Gucci’s reinvention is definitely our corporate culture of employee empowerment and open communication. A successful corporate culture is ultimately founded upon shared values. At Gucci, we have a few, very simple key values that are at the heart of our organization: the empowerment of innovation and risk taking, a sense of responsibility and respect, an appreciation for diversity and inclusion, excellence in execution, and, last but not least, cultivating joy and happiness in the way we work.

By applying these simple values across the organization, I believe we have been able to truly differentiate ourselves within our sector.