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Gucci CEO: ‘I never saw success in our business through a business plan’

For Gucci, internal communications is more important than external communications. Speaking at Dreamforce 2019, Gucci president and CEO Marco Bizzarri explained that this culture of prioritising communications with staff has to be embedded into the company.

Giving the audience a glimpse into the culture at one of the world’s most renowned luxury brands, Bizzarri said that when he first joined Gucci in 2015, he initiated a complete turnaround in terms of an aesthetics and business standpoint. According to Bizzarri, the brand was criticised by many for switching up its designs and despite a positive increase in results a year after, it wasn’t completely let off the hook.

However, three years later, the company grew by 40%, silencing the criticisms.

But the change was only possible as all 10,000 Gucci staff were well aware of the new identity and idea, he added, explaining that the staff also understood the processes involved.

“I needed to talk to everyone so I travelled all around the world, and stayed away for two months. I explained the reason for this change, which came from necessity as the company was not doing particularly well,” Bizzarri said, adding that direct communications, empathy and telling the truth in terms of authenticity were some of the ways Gucci retained the values in the company. In fact, authenticity, empathy, trust, logic, respect and freedom, were Bizzari’s key communication points and values. But of course, at the centre of it was creative excellence

In our business and industry, creativity is the centre of everything.

“If creativity is the centre of everything, the best way to foster it is to create an ambiance in the company that gives the possibility to talents to express freedom, spread joy and freedom of expression. It is about creating an environment where if you make a mistake, you do not get killed for it,” he said.

Operationalising values

Today, Gucci’s parent company Kering, is on a journey to digitise and revolutionise its offerings. The team, not to be left behind in this era of digitisation, constantly works towards changing aesthetics and identifying new trends in terms of changing consumer behaviour. Most recently, Kerig announced bringing eCommerce functions in-house for a better grip of its image and consumer data. The French luxury group has since been working towards strengthening its omnichannel capabilities, and revealed that eCommerce is the fastest growing channel for all its luxury brands.

Unlike fast fashion brands which could lean on data, high fashion brand Gucci does not operate similarly, Bizzari said. According to Bizzarri, Gucci relies on people, adding that:

I never saw success in our business through a business plan.

He explained that brands need to believe in ideas, without factoring cost and drawing up a financial plan. “Of course it needs to be cost efficient but that comes after. In the beginning, you need to trust the person delivering the new designs because you are nothing without creative people in fashion,” Bizzarri said.

However, Gucci recently made headlines when one of its models made a silent protest during catwalk over the brand’s decision to feature “blank-styled” straitjackets. Model Ayesha Tan-Jones held both her hands up, with the words “mental health is not fashion” hand-written across her palms. This prompted Gucci to explain that its “blank-styled clothes” were statement for the fashion show and will not be sold. Representing how most extreme version of a uniform dictated by society and those who control it, the straitjackets aim to show how through fashion, “power is exercised over life to eliminate self-expression”.

Salesforce paid for the journalist’s trip to Dreamforce 2019 held in San Francisco.

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