Notes on Luxury – Giorgio Armani keynote

LuxuryI was in New York this week for a couple of events related to the Luxury Interactive conference.  This morning’s keynote address was delivered by Bridget Ryan Berman, CEO of Giorgio Armani.  Her message to the audience:  "Customers are in control."  It’s a mantra that most of us have bought into (well, more or less) – but it’s one thing to hear from the CEO of a FMCG company and quite surprising to hear this from the CEO of one of the world’s preeminent luxury brand portfolios.

Berman’s draws on experience from Federated/May, Ralph Lauren, Apple, and Armani:

- Federated:  You must be on the retail selling floor.  It gives you the opportunity to speak directly to the source – an unfiltered pipeline to consumers.

- Ralph Lauren:  A brand that brings experience to life.  The intent: to evoke an emotional response to detail, e.g. Ralph designed it or has the piece in his own home.  Backbone of customer intimacy and authenticity.

- Apple:  Dedicated store space to customer activities, instead of traditional product-focused merchandising.  Lets customers experience products for themselves – empowers them, gives them control.

- Armani: Mining global customer CRM; tons of existing data that had never been used.  Enhancing the retail experience by focusing on physical space and customer/associate interaction.  Aligning brand and customer perception.

Berman says she realizes that the next generation are quickly becoming "power consumers" and has started setting up the company for future success.