On the eve of Gucci’s 90th anniversary as a luxury retailer, the firm’s CEO, Patrizio di Marco, describes why digital innovation is more than just a matter of relevance and modernity.
Besides being one of the most active luxury brands in the social media space – with nearly 3.2 million Facebook fans and a host of online initiatives including the live streaming of its catwalk shows and smart phone applications – Gucci is also the first luxury brand to launch a digital flagship.
“Gucci was in fact a pioneer when it launched its US e-commerce site in 2002 and we [still] believe that new media and new technologies represent a valuable complementary communication and business channel.”
“ The digital flagship is destined to become our highest volume store in the world ”
According to Di Marco, Gucci’s new online retail destination takes advantage of the most innovative technologies available today, integrating rich content, shopping and social networking to provide the site’s monthly 2.5 million unique visitors with an aesthetic and customer-oriented experience that replicates the one customers have when immersed in one of the brand’s signature flagships stores in Rome, New York, London or Shanghai.
From a strategic perspective, Gucci’s recent aggressive foray into digital media channels is a concerted effort to drive the digital flagship to outperform all brick-and-mortar store sales.
“The digital flagship is destined to become our highest volume store in the world, and should be the final destination for any search on the net: whether you are seeking out Gucci through a search engine, or are one of our 3.2 million Facebook fans, or are one of the over 840,000 people who have downloaded our Gucci App or are one of our 32,000 Twitter followers.”
While traditional luxury marketing focused on the protected environment of exclusive networks and publications, Gucci has been at the forefront of the movement which challenges the status quo by utilizing the web to expose the brand. In September of 2010, for instance, the brand invited its fans to virtually join the womenswear fashion show and even showcased the commentary and digital content of fans on a global site alongside the show’s live stream.
“One of the reasons Gucci has been successful in reaching new customers is because of the attention we have paid to the internet… The current site operates in 17 countries in 8 different languages, while e-commerce is offered in 12 countries with over 2000 skus available online.”
The brand has also integrated social media into the heart of the online shopping experience. A live Twitter feed, an interface with the Gucci official Facebook fan page and product page link to ready-to-wear items straight off the catwalk, allows visitors to truly engage with the brand.
Di Marco, together with Frida Giannini, Gucci’s creative director, have championed social networks as an integral part of the new site, suggesting they are a natural extension of the fashion shopping experience in the real world which is often shared and enjoyed with friends as well.
With such an active role in digital media, Gucci is not only using these channels as a very direct and content-rich form of outreach to tap into a broader audience but also to uncover metrics and insight on the site’s visitors in order to become a more attentive luxury brand – something which is difficult to do with customers entering brick-and-mortar stores.
“[Digital] is allowing us to develop more personal and constant relationships with current and prospective consumers. We are also able to understand the desires and attitudes of our customers more quickly and easily through the information that is available to us, which is helping us to be more responsive. Ultimately, our aim is to offer the same values and experience to an online customer or visitor as we do in our stores.”