Creating culture: Why I am no longer talking about products

By Marco Passoni

I read an excellent piece last week with Golden Goose CEO Silvio Campara, where he told Business of Fashion that “culture is the new luxury”. This is a brilliant example of how brands which are truly innovative, such as Golden Goose, are looking at the market today in a whole new way – and why more of us should be doing the same.

The market, as we often discuss, has changed. The focus now is on experience, community and creating moments for shoppers, rather than simply selling fancy baubles.

The focus on creating more than just items, and leveraging a luxury brand as more than just a name, is a proven strategy. Both Moncler and LVMH have taken big steps in this regard recently and their frequent high places on the Lyst Index show that their work is having an impact. Moncler’s excellent leveraging of the Genius hub as a cultural centre, or their recent 70th anniversary celebrations are good examples of making something truly special that shoppers want to buy into.

The best luxury brands today are not trying to tap into a moment. They are creating them themselves.

This speaks to a wider trend, which we are seeing play out in travel retail and across the wider retail sector. Brands which are truly seeing success and enhanced engagement are those which are leveraging their position to create something more than retail products. They are creating lifestyles and environments which shoppers want to be a part of. Doing this well requires true omnichannel engagement, with digital platforms used to entice consumers and build awareness and interest, which is then backed up by exquisite and excellent physical delivery, taking the experience to the next level.

The best luxury brands today are not trying to tap into a moment. They are creating them themselves.

While there has been a lot of talk about the first part of this equation, all too often the second part is taken for granted in my experience. Brands believe that putting something out in the world with some signs and screens is enough for physical delivery. It is not.

Figures from ACI have shown that in travel retail a 1% increase in shopper satisfaction leads to a 1.5% increase in sales. Enthusiasm on the ground is key – and people are at the heart of that.

We at 2.0 & Partners recently held an event with Bologna Airport as part of our Retail Academy service, helping their staff to deliver the right experience, tailored to the needs and demands of their shopper demographic. The response was excellent and our team were pleased to hear great enthusiasm for both the insights and the event itself.

This sort of attention to detail, like we are seeing in Bologna, is exactly what is needed to help bring big ideas to life in the travel retail sector. Brands such as Golden Goose and Moncler can create beautiful ecosystems, but they require impactful and incredible delivery on the ground to make them work. No matter how great the brand or concept, you cannot create cultural moments without people.

Brands can create beautiful ecosystems, but they require impactful and incredible delivery on the ground to make them work

Products will always be a mainstay of the retail sector, but in the modern market we must focus on something bigger. The brands and retailers that set themselves apart are those who focus on delivering milestone moments and experiences, and who focus on people and culture over simply trying to push a new release.

If, as they say, you build something great, people will come.

Marco Passoni has decades of experience in the travel retail sector. He has spent the majority of his career in senior leader positions throughout the market, including a 12-year tenure as CEO of a leading international Duty Free distribution company and a further 8 years running a retail firm that operated fashion mono-brand stores in several international airports.
Today, as Senior Executive VP and founding partner of 2.0 & Partners, he leads the company’s efforts in developing and innovating services which create new opportunities and partnerships for all members of the travel retail Trinity. A former elite-level sailor, with a World Championship to his name, Marco now spends much of his time airside, experiencing the changing travel retail industry first-hand, to better guide partners and clients on the best way to do business in this vibrant and unique market.