Gucci’s owner Kering rejects see now, buy now…but for how long?

It’s all too easy to dismiss Kering’s rejection of Burberry’s buy now catwalk initiative as one characteristic of French & Italian luxury houses.

Many media outlets would love the chance to portray Kering’s response as the French and Italian aristocrats of luxury taking a pop at the US and UK bourgeoisie.

But if we dig deeper it’s worth weighing up Kering boss Francois-Henri-Pinault’s reasoning that “waiting creates desire”.

Because although his stance is archetypal in the way it is expressed; the industry is all about pent up aspirational demand, and instant post show gratification “negates the dream”.

The reality is that it is likely to be harder to sell a set of brand new looks and items, in the volumes some of the big houses need, without warming the customer up to them first.

The current system enables luxury labels to do this via the six-month drip feed that starts with catwalks, and works its way through a variety of press and media coverage, celebrity endorsement, ad campaigns, and social media.

For those who choose the ‘show now, buy now’ route this marketing time window is likely to be much narrower. It’s in the unknowns and ambiguities of this new way of selling and promoting where the risks lies.

Kering boss Pinault is taking a wait and see approach, sitting out the pioneer stage, to measure the effects of the move and how they are likely to evolve. This makes sense for his business model and the range of labels on his roster.

It’s worth noting that reading beyond the “NON” headlines Pinault’s stance is more of a qualified no than an outright never, what he said to Bloomberg on this was: “Burberry has doubtless decided what suits it best. What we will decide will be what suits our brands and our vision of luxury.”

You can read this as Pinault definitively stating it’s not for us; or as him saying it’s not going to be right for all of our brands and we will take a  brand by brand approach. If you interpret it in that looser way you can see he’s got some wiggle room should it look right for some of the Kering stable in the future.

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