Patrizio di Marco

President and Chief Executive Officer
Gucci

Patrizio Di Marco, Gucci

What makes you optimistic about the economy?

Although there seem to be the first indicators of an end to the global recession, there is no real evidence yet of a sustained improvement in consumer confidence at retail. As stock markets begin to rise again and house prices begin to stabilize we should gradually begin to see that confidence return. However, in my view, we will be facing a changed consumer psychology for the foreseeable future with a different values system driving behavior. Consumers will be more prudent and more pragmatic. They will be seeking a real narrative, real exclusivity, real craftsmanship, and real quality when buying luxury products. Those values that used to define absolute luxury. At the same time they will be much more concerned that brand's demonstrate a proactive approach towards corporate responsibility and environmentalism.

"With over 7,000 direct employees across the world, I believe we should all see ourselves as custodians of the Gucci brand—a brand that was here before all of us and one that will survive all of us."

Which up-and-coming brands do you think will soon compete on a global stage?

Rather than mentioning brands, I would rather mention sectors. I think that those brands in the technology and environmental arena will have the best chance to capture consumer attention effectively in the years ahead.

In this “age of responsibility” how do you see your consumer changing?

The economic crisis has increased the focus on discrete consumption and on social values. Fashion and luxury consumers are shopping less frequently and more thoughtfully in favor of products that have a real intrinsic value. Quality, craftsmanship, provenance, and innovation are once again seen as the defining criteria for true luxury. And now you must add to these, a heightened concern for acceptable labor and environmental practices. This focus on corporate social responsibility will only increase in the years ahead as governments and institutions around the world prioritize policies to support it.

How do you see the marketing of brands changing in the next five to 10 years?

Segmentation and customer service will be the absolute priorities. Understanding and knowing your customers right down to their respective individual needs will be essential. This knowledge base will then need to be leveraged to deliver the highest levels of personalized service.

Leading brands define themselves through the experience they afford their customers. Over the coming years that experience will need to become even more distinctive.

How do you expect the changing role of digital to influence your brand strategy?

In my view we will look back at the first decade of this millennium as a period in which we lived through a digital revolution. One only needs to study the media consumption habits of the teen and 20-something generations today to appreciate that the media landscape is changed forever. In many ways Gucci has led the way for the luxury sector in acknowledging the power of the Internet and in recognizing that e-commerce is a viable channel, even for luxury brands. With the greater penetration of broadband and the arrival of social networking, the online luxury shopping experience can—and will—become richer than ever before. It will also gravitate progressively to mobile technology.

What unpredictable factor most impacted how you managed your brand in the past decade?

Gucci is approaching its 90th anniversary in 2011. Today it is a stronger brand than it has ever been. I believe this is a testament to the direction that has been taken to ensure the brand remains true its long lasting values, while over time adapting to changing market conditions.

Is there a single touchpoint of your brand that you think will be more influential to your consumers in the next five years?

Today Gucci is almost uniquely positioned within its sector as a brand that represents both luxury heritage and fashion authority. Over the coming years, it will be especially important to maintain these touchpoints in the minds of our customers.

What points can you share from your experiences that contribute in building a successful brand? What advice do you have for marketers at other companies who are facing similar challenges that you face?

First and foremost, I would cite the need to stay true to your brand's founding values. The most successful and enduring brands are those built over the long-term, where a consistent and cohesive set of values is established in the minds of your customers. From that moment onwards, you should never compromise on these values for short-term gain.

How does your brand influence the decisions made at your organization?

With over 7,000 direct employees across the world, I believe we should all see ourselves as custodians of the Gucci brand—a brand that was here before all of us and one that will survive all of us. The long lasting values of the brand ultimately inform and guide every decision we make and they also inspire all of us along the way.

Biography:

Patrizio di Marco, 46, was appointed Gucci’s President and Chief Executive Officer in January 2009 having originally joined Gucci Group in 2001 as President and Chief Executive Officer of Bottega Veneta. He has been a Member of the Gucci Group Management Committee for eight years.

Mr. di Marco’s comprehensive twenty-year career has yielded an extensive knowledge of and unique sensibility for the luxury marketplace. His professional experience is truly international, having held senior positions in Asia, Europe, and America at various of the world's most respected luxury brands, and he brings a profound understanding of how global fashion systems work today.

As a champion of essential luxury in which quality and craftsmanship are paramount, Mr. di Marco has become known for his focused approach to the business. His support of the “Made in Italy” tradition is unwavering. Mr. di Marco’s vision is now being applied to Gucci, where the storied Italian brand’s exclusive heritage and long-lasting values are emphasized in conjunction with its high fashion and aspirational style.