30 October 2009

Gucci's Latest Epiphany

Through an article in the fashion trade Women's Wear Daily (WWD), Gucci America, Inc. president, Daniella Vitale, announced several new initiatives for their operations: elevate the customer experience in their stores, bring greater job satisfaction to their employees by recognizing good work on multiple levels, increase efficient service, offer the same level of service to all customers no matter how much they spend, and strengthen communications to consumers about the brand.

Gucci arrived at this juncture with the help of the consulting firm, Millward Brown. Together, they studied the business from 2008 through the beginning of 2009. By investing in a consulting firm, this seems to imply that Gucci doesn't trust their own organization or lack one to investigate and resolve fundamental issues internally.

The overall conclusion of improving customer service is only one of two cornerstones in retail businesses, the other is the product. Gucci is a luxury brand. But luxury is not just about driving customer service and communication. Luxury is about the highest quality of product, a product that is difficult to find and attain due to pricing, and a product that is ultimately superfluous.

Vitale states: "[The customer experience is] the single most important driver of business." If this is the case, then Gucci is a marketing-driven business, much like a high street or commodity brand.

The most important driver of a business should ultimately be the product, driven not by customers but by a brand's own employees. Investment of time and long term commitment in these will deliver the authenticity that customers will continue to come back for. Millward Brown may think otherwise.

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