According to a 2011 Bain & Co. Chinese luxury survey, Gucci stood as the third most desired luxury label in the country behind Louis Vuitton and Chanel. But for Patrizio di Marco, Gucci’s president and chief executive officer, that’s not good enough.
In advance of a recent string of Gucci promotional events in China, de Marco admitted that he wants the label to step up its game. “What is the memory of Gucci now [in China] in the past few years is a brand that is commercially successful because it opened stores. The perception is very likely the fact that we are logo based, this kind of stuff, so we definitely have to fine-tune and fix things because the brand position as I intend it to be has not been conveyed for a number of faults that I would say are related pretty much to the incredibly fast pace of our development in the country,” he said.
Gucci entered the Chinese market by opening 2 stores – one in Beijing, the other in Shanghai – in 1996. As late as 2004, the label maintained only 4 stores nationally. But in December 2011, Gucci counted 46 stores in 32 cities on the Mainland and 57 stores in Greater China among its assets. Di Marco says 10 more are on the way this year. With them, he hopes to usher in three prongs of change for his brand’s image. He said, “The problem is that we have to make sure they know why we are, what we stand for, our core values, and that is something that has to be told in numerous ways. I want Gucci in every single moment of its expression to stress again the three features differentiating this brand from any other brand. There is no brand as cool as Gucci and at the same time has the craftsmanship as Gucci and at the same time [socially] responsible.”
Gucci initially gained popularity in China for being a logo-heavy brand, which the new rich gobbled up in an attempt to appear sophisticated. But now, as quality, craftsmanship, and elegance take hold in the culture, the Double Gs just won’t do.
Di Marco said Gucci is moving away from its Tom Ford era of overt sex and glamour to a new one of sophistication, class and femininity. Frida Giannini, Gucci’s creative director, backs this move. “Honestly, I don’t see that Chinese girls, they want to be oversexed, that they want to be in leather,” she said. “They want to be part of a lifestyle that I think Gucci is, so this is my intention to invite people to enjoy the experience of the Gucci world instead of just selling a pair of stiletto heels with black patent leather or other very aggressive things. I would prefer that someone comes into our store to buy something of a very high quality, a very high design that they can keep in the wardrobe for the next 10 years.”