Gucci pays the mistakes of the black face case and slows on the North American market

Social media give and social media take, more so when your principles are aligned with those of Millennials that love streetwear. The “black face” case, the controversial jumper launched and then recalled by Gucci caused the luxury brand to slow sales numbers in its first quarter of 2019 (the first since 2016) in the North American marketplace. The cause-and-effect relation was neatly pointed out by The Wall Street Journal. The month of March is the one setting the difference, as it is noticeable that Gucci loses ground in that moment, according to Tribe Dynamics, in the race for the luxury brands’ social engagement ranking.  If the song Gucci Gang of the American rapper Lil Pump in 2017 was recognition of the North American boom that the brand was having, the fact that rapper T.I. has posted, two years later, an angry picture against the brand, is sign of the public disappointment. The same public, moreover, that had been supporting the brand.

The problems

During the period going from January to March 2019, reports the WSJ, Gucci lost 2% of its total turnover in North America. Not a catastrophe, but a fairly (for a market that is worth 20% of total revenue) alarming fact. Kering’s management linked the issue to the slowdown of tourists’ influxes into the United States and, in contrary, the increment of North American individuals shopping abroad. But maybe, there is more. “While it is innovative – commented Nicole Fischelis, ex creative director of Saks Fifth Avenue and Macy’s and now a consultant -, Alessandro Michele’s style is becoming a bit stagnant”.

The answer

Called on by the WSJ, Kering’s spokespeople answered by saying that Gucci still shows as the top brand by List’s revelation, and the most searched brand on the RealReal, thus the alarm isn’t quite that serious. Meanwhile the brand has recuperated the losses during the whole first semester of 2019, with a final +1.1%. Of course, the +57.4% of 2018’s first semester is extremely far away: maybe the trend is more complex than the black face case alone.


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