Gucci brand strategy / positioning case study

BrandStruck
Gucci Brand Strategy Analysis
Gucci
ABOUT

Category:
Apparel – luxury apparel, FMCG Personal care & beauty – fragrances, make-up; Retail  fashion stores, e-retail

Owner of the brand:
Kering (previously PPR)

Key competitors:
Louis Vuitton, Prada, Hermès, Ralph Lauren

Brand essence

An Italian luxury brand representing contemporary sensuality and romanticism.

Brand values

Luxury, craftsmanship, sensuality, romanticism.

Brand character

Italian, luxurious, edgy, bold, contemporary, sensual, romantic.

Dominating archetype
EVIDENCE
Comments
1

Gucci is a brand with a volatile history of spectacular ups and downs and whose fortune has almost solely depended on the executives in charge of it. The brand was in the greatest trouble in the 1980s and 90s when it almost went bankrupt. The difficult situation in which it found itself was caused by inadequate brand management which didn’t take into account the specifics of the luxury market. In addition family disputes, excessive supply, huge discounts and numerous licensing agreements almost killed the brand.

2

In the 1990s, Gucci was saved by Tom Ford who, as the Artistic Director, made the brand famous for its sensuality and glamour. During the two decades up until 2015, Gucci’s communication was characterized by a bold, sexually provocative and controversial style initiated by Ford and continued by Frida Giannini. The most famous example of that era is the 2003 ad dubbed “Pubic Enemy”[1], in which a model’s pubic hair is shaped into the letter G.

3

Since 2015, when Marco Bizarre was appointed CEO and Alessandro Michele Creative Director, the brand has experienced its most prosperous period so far, both in terms of financial performance and brand relevance among fashion influencers. Under Bizarre and Michele, Gucci went through what fashion publications describe as a revolution – the brand was repositioned, a new consistent aesthetic was introduced, the supply chain improved and the company’s culture turned around.

4

The new Gucci executives emphasize their focus on making the brand more attractive to a younger generation. To stay relevant to Millennials, Gucci started highlighting its progressive and contemporary character, refreshed its logo and made it more prominent on its products, moved to an Instagram-focused style of communication and started communicating its positive stance on sexual fluidity (e.g., similar collections for men and women presented during the same show, gender-neutral models in ads). The image of the brand was changed almost overnight from sleek, glossy and sexual to raw, quirky, progressive, romantic and geeky (e.g., “Gucci Stories: The Myth of Orpheus and Eurydice”[2]). Gucci’s CEO describes the new brand’s strategy as speaking to the “fashion dreamers.” What hasn’t changed in Gucci’s brand strategy is its “Italian-ness”, commitment to craftsmanship and an extravagant style.

5

The main problem Gucci faced before 2015, according to its current CEO, was the fact that the brand had lost its cool factor among fashion journalists and influencers and, increasingly, among customers. Therefore the key objective of all changes introduced in and after 2015 was to make Gucci a “fashion authority” again. Interestingly, the way the brand approached this challenge was not by focusing on fashion and seasonality but on a more timeless and consistent style. In this way, Gucci has extended the longevity of its collections, making it acceptable for its consumers to buy and wear clothes from older collections as they all represent a similar aesthetic (“collections as chapters of the same book”).

6

Although Gucci’s image is much less sexual than it was during Tom Ford’s tenure, the brand still represents the Lover archetype. It stands for romanticism and a contemporary version of gender-neutral sensuality.

Tagline
Most important campaigns

1. “Gucci Fall Winter 2018 Campaign: Gucci Collectors” (2018)

2. “Gucci Bloom” (2017)

3. “Gucci Guilty” (2016)

4. “Gucci Spring/Summer 2010” (2010)

Official brand statement:

Influential, innovative and progressive, Gucci is reinventing a wholly modern approach to fashion. Under the new vision of creative director Alessandro Michele, the House has redefined luxury for the 21st century, further reinforcing its position as one of the world’s most desirable fashion houses. Eclectic, contemporary, romantic—Gucci products represent the pinnacle of Italian craftsmanship and are unsurpassed for their quality and attention to detail.[3]

Interesting facts:

Kering, the holding company owning 100% of Gucci, owns also such brands as: Saint Laurent,  Sergio Rossi, Bottega Veneta, Balenciaga, Stella McCartney (50%), Alexander McQueen (51%) or Puma (86%).[4]

Must-reads

1. The New York Times on the new Gucci style
J. Caramanica, “Is Gucci Stylish Or Tacky? Yes“, The New York Times, May 2018,
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/30/style/gucci-critical-shopper.html

2. Fashionista’s opinion on “gucciness” of Gucci
S. Dool, “The Selling Power Of Gucci’s Relentless Gucciness”, Fashionista, Aug 2017,
https://fashionista.com/2017/08/gucci-selling-power-alessandro-michele

3. In-depth analysis of changes in Gucci’s strategy
J. Wingfield, “How Alessandro Michele And Marco Bizzarri Are Making Gucci The Feel-Good Fashion Brand”, System Magazine,
http://system-magazine.com/issue7/alessandro-michele-marco-bizzarri/

Sources:
SIMILAR BRANDS

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