We recently sat together with Martino Scabbia Guerrini, VF’s Group President for Europe, Middle East and Africa, to find out about his ideas on brand strategies, stores and sustainability. Here are his key-notes.
...on the market in general
“If we look at the market from a global perspective, in general, what we have seen in the last three years is:
- Consolidation across the channels. Probably more extreme in North America. The European market is more balanced than others. We have been observing it is not an easy time for the traditional big department stores. We know they need to reinvent themselves.
- A relatively healthy marketplace for sport- fashion lifestyle, from fashion to street wear, urban, youth culture.”
...on winners and losers
“I still see strength in the most authentic brands, with heritage and clear identity, capable to reinvent their core assets into relevant aesthetic and trends for the youth culture mainly.
It is a very intense marketplace in which brands have to continuously reinvent, and constantly are “on” and new with a much more intense, faster pace in producing products and narrative not to miss the trajectory and the momentum.”
...on key factors to keep a brand strong
“It is about Culture, Brand, Platforms.
First of all you need a brand-building framework which means having a brand strategy, a creative vision (the future guiding principle for design and storytelling), and an integrated market place plan.
The culture is about the people, the mindset, the skills. We see we have been hiring younger generation, which are the future leaders, into new job roles that were not relevant 5 years ago – data scientist, copywriters, digital managers. This is key to attract and to be connected with younger consumers.
And then is about making sure you create and invest in the right platforms and consumer engagement. The collaboration with Zalando and Bread & Butter are a great example of how it is possible to integrate the physical interaction with a digital platform to amplify the brand experience.”
... on speed
“The pace of the market is simply faster. It has become more difficult to predict the future. We used to work with five-years-plans, and we have changed it into three-years-plans which we rework every six months. We need to stay open and have to listen and to learn rapidly–otherwise we would lose speed. Today’s challenge is to constantly reinvent, segment, re-define the brand heritage and forward direction.”
“We spend time today to understand the role of physical stores and how we can innovate or renovate and how they would be better integrated in our digital platforms both in term of transactions and consumer loyalty. We are challenging ourselves on how we can re-think the role of the store with new technologies and integrating more the storytelling within the classical transactions based model.”
... on sustainability
“There is no doubt, the global agenda on sustainability is really important. We at VF believe that we are responsible to do it differently, because we have an impact on our planet due to our scale and because with our 60,000 employees we can facilitate the change. Our sustainability agenda is very well structured and it goes from looking at our footprint impact until circular economy. A great example is the collaboration between Timberland and Christopher Raeburn, as a new generation designer with a strong ethos -“Remade. Reduced. Recycled.” – who tries to bring this fire into the communities even more than on the runway. We as VF are a purpose led and performance driven company. And we have been observed that public companies that are design and purpose driven can deliver better performance.”
VF, based in Greensboro N.C., is one of the world’s largest apparel, footwear and accessories companies. VF operates in about 170 countries and owns about 1,500 retail stores worldwide as well as 30 manufacturing facilities. Martino Scabbia Guerrini is VF’s Group President for Europe, Middle East and Africa. In his role, he is responsible for all VF’s businesses in the region including The North Face, Vans, Wrangler and Lee brands, and for the Timberland, Napapijri, Kipling, Eastpak and Icebreaker business at a global level.