Kering: China and brand content to save the Gucci soldier

Gucci rolls out the red carpet… Ancora for the arrival of Sabato de Sarno’s first in-store collection. This week, Kering’s slowing star brand unveiled a series of retail features in several Chinese cities, as well as a documentary on its new prodigy.

A year ago, Sabato de Sarno launched his inaugural collection at Milan’s Via Mecenate headquarters. He faced the elements and an unfavorable economic climate with the aim of proposing a more luxurious, minimalist positioning than his predecessor Alessandro Michele… and above all, to relaunch the Gucci locomotive.


This first attempt, which failed to generate the enthusiasm expected by Kering from investors and buyers, has now arrived in stores.


In order to win over the general public this time, the Florentine fashion house has decided to launch a new large-scale communication campaign, in the form of pop-up stores, focusing on its first market: China.

To increase its audience, Gucci is also banking on video streaming and the goodwill of its new artistic director, Sabato de Sarno, to reach a large international audience.


And this is a matter of urgency, as the difficulties encountered by the Italian brand are having a direct impact on the results of its parent company, Kering. Following the announcement of sales forecasts down 20% for its first quarter 2024 for Gucci, Kering shares fell by almost 12% on Wednesday March 20, representing the worst trading session in the company’s history.


Towards reconquering China

To promote the arrival in stores of his first collection in China, Sabato de Sarno, who has been Creative Director of the House of Gucci since November 2023, travelled to Shanghai to meet fashion students at Donghua Public University.


Particularly exposed to the ups and downs of the Chinese market, Gucci has opted for reassurance in what remains its largest market. Barclays analysts estimate that Gucci, which has been present in China since 1996, generates 35% of its sales there, compared with 27% for LVMH’s fashion and leather goods division and 26% for Hermès.


© Gucci


Over the past few days, Gucci has deployed a large-scale communications plan, based largely on retail activations, to publicize the first creative act of its artistic director and, above all, to boost the House’s desirability. This one-week lightning operation aimed at the Chinese population involved the simultaneous launch of pop stores in four leading Chinese cities: Shanghai, Chengdu, Beijing and Shenzhen.


As Anaïs Bournonville, co-founder of consulting firm Reverse Group, points out, “this operation is aligned with the expectations of Chinese customers, who are particularly sensitive to brands offering offline experiences.” And that’s not the only strength of this Chinese market specialist: “the pop-up store has the advantage of being ephemeral, creating a sense of urgency among consumers. It has been so successful that all the slots for visits to the boutiques concerned, which can be booked via Wechat Mini Programme, have been snapped up.” Finally, the idea was to capitalize on the virality of its first #GucciAncora collection, which to date has generated 740 million views on local social network Weibo. The presence of celebrities such as Wang Churan and Henry Lau was expected to have a small effect.

The company’s pop-up stores not only showcase its spring-summer 2024 collection, but also highlight its local roots through works by Chinese artists, selected by X Zhu-Nowell, head of artistic direction at Shanghai’s Rockbund Art Museum.


But to enter a brand universe, what better way than to identify with the designer, whether stylistically or inspirationally?


Flex, dreams and video

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Featured Photo: Photo montage of Gucci Ancora pop-up store in China and poster for Sarno’s documentary Who is Sabato – A Gucci Story © Gucci

Picture of Victor Gosselin
Victor Gosselin
Victor Gosselin is a journalist specializing in luxury, HR, tech, retail, and editorial consulting. A graduate of EIML Paris, he has been working in the luxury industry for 9 years. Fond of fashion, Asia, history, and long format, this ex-Welcome To The Jungle and Time To Disrupt likes to analyze the news from a sociological and cultural angle.

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