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- 8 Mar 2010

Making it All More Efficient

Integrating social media into our increasingly complex, multi-channel virtual world will require even more aggressive investment. Gucci Group’s information and business integration director, Stefano Lenzi, foretells the big issues that luxury brands will face next.

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Since its earliest manifestation, social media always interested me. I must admit that at the very beginning I was sceptical about its business application but I quickly changed my mind. Now I can see a real benefit – mainly as a virtual forum to spread the word and listen in.

As the Gucci Group Information and Business Integration Director, I’m in charge of defining and coordinating the implementation of MIS strategies, enabling synergies among the group’s different brands in order to support global strategic initiatives and business development. I’m also in charge of the eBusiness for all brands in the group with the exceptions of Gucci and Boucheron.

I first joined Gucci Group back in 2000 in the control department where I was in charge of deploying the new consolidation system worldwide which was a major change in all finance departments across the group. The next year, Gucci Group made a series of brand acquisitions and I was subsequently appointed financial controller at Alexander McQueen. As a result I moved to London, where I still live, to help the CEO and CFO during the start up. Later I took care of inventory, pricing and business intelligence for three emerging brands in the group.

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The world has changed so much since then. Now that luxury brands focus on multi-channel and digital outlets to offer better experiences (and now that they believe in eBusiness), social media is playing an important role by increasing brand awareness and even driving visitors to our stores and eStores. Gucci Group brands believe in social networks and they are present in major official sites.

I think that the luxury industry is a perfect fit for social media. Since we’ve already grown accustomed to reaching an audience through conventional means, we now need to tap into these channels to engage with the marketplace and our stakeholders. However, there is still room to improve our application of social media and there’s a lot to do before it can really make an impact in terms of efficiency.

Within our own industry, Luxury Society is a good place to have professional discussions and it’s somewhere we can share experiences and discuss issues freely. From a “look and feel” and user interface stand point it is very good. It’s also an easy way to network with your peers.

What’s to come? I believe it’s too early to convince designers and communications professionals, who are still the decision-makers for brand and online strategy, that things like SEO (search engine optimization) are vital or that websites should incorporate certain non-luxury information in order to have a higher ranking on search engines. However there is nothing more scientifically compelling than eMarketing initiatives to calculate ROI.

The next big movement will be in this direction online – trying to minimise cannibalization between channels; invest in integration of CRM; and give better “two-way” experiences on both corporate and eCommerce websites. It will be a challenge to achieve while preserving brand DNA and making campaigns consistent both offline and online. But let’s hope the economic environment will soon help shareholders to invest more in the present, turning uncertainty into opportunity.

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Stefano Lenzi, Information and Business Integration Director, Gucci Group