I 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.