Just in case you didn’t know it, Gucci is a one of the largest and most successful fashion brands out there. Everyone wants to both own and be seen wearing Gucci apparel. In the past few years, Gucci has had a fantastic run and has become one of the hottest brands in fashion. However, their growth has recently cooled off a bit. It turns out that their product managers forgot what was in their product development definition and made a product mistake that this has ended up having huge ramifications online where Gucci had been doing very well. What went wrong?
Gucci’s Big Product Mistake
So just exactly why did the popular Gucci brand experience a decrease in sales after having been so hot for so long? Way back in February, the Gucci product managers made the mistake of introducing a product that caused a great deal of controversy. The product was a black Gucci sweater that covered the lower part of the face with a cutout for the mouth surrounded by bright red lips. The problem with this product was that critics were quick to point out that it resembled blackface — the makeup used by a nonblack performer playing a black role. The problem with this is that blackface is considered to be racist and offensive. A mistake like this would not look good on anyone’s product manager resume.
What’s so wrong with a sweater that looks like you are pretending to be a black person? The reason that blackface is so wrong is because by distorting the features and culture of African Americans—including their looks, language, dance, deportment and character – performers who wore blackface allowed white Americans to codify whiteness across class and geopolitical lines as its antithesis. No matter if this was not what Gucci was trying to do, the backlash was quick and severe. Sales plummeted.
How Gucci Can Recover From A Product Mistake
When the sweater became available and people started to speak out, Gucci apologized. On social media, prominent African-Americans who had been some of Gucci’s biggest fans spoke out about how inappropriate the sweater was.
In order to recover from this product stumble, Gucci is planning on rolling out new marketing actives. These will include window displays at Saks Fifth Avenue in New York and events in the store. Gucci’s goal will be to promote personalized engagement around newness.
Gucci’s eclectic designs which have found ways to mix sports team logos and antique references have had a wide appeal. The Gucci brand has appealed to both hip-hop-savvy Americans and Chinese millennials. One of the ways that Gucci has become popular and stayed popular has been by generating a buzz on social media. This was until the blackface scandal caused them to pull back.
Now that time has passed and it has started to repair the damage that has been done to Gucci’s image, their new efforts should start to show some results.
What All Of This Means For You
Gucci is a popular brand of fashion. They are known world-wide and they have been growing at a rapid rate for the past few years. Everything was going well for them until their product managers made a significant product mistake that brought everything to a crashing halt.
What Gucci did was to introduce a black sweater that allowed the wearer to appear as though they were a blackface performer. Blackface is considered by many to be very racist and the backlash against Gucci offering this sweater was quick and severe. Their sales started to drop almost immediately. The Gucci product managers quickly understood that they had made a mistake and they apologized. However, the damage was done and prominent African-Americans who had been their biggest backers, turned on them. Since then Gucci has been looking at ways that they can use their marking skills to start to show the world their new products. They also want to make their customer’s shopping experience more personal.
The Gucci product managers made a big mistake. A question that needs to be answered is how did they allow this to happen? Clearly the Gucci product review cycle did not contain enough people with diverse backgrounds who could have spoken up and pointed out that the sweater was a bad idea. Hopefully, they have learned from this mistake and they can use their product manager job description to take steps to make sure that it does not happen again in the future.
– Dr. Jim Anderson Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Product Management Skills™
Question For You: How do you think that Gucci could have avoided making this product mistake?
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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time
Can anyone besides me remember back in the day when you wanted to play a video game and you’d stuff your pockets with quarters and head on down to the video parlor? Those days are now long gone and you can play great games almost anywhere without spending a penny. However, although you might not pay to play anymore, getting that game into your house can end up costing you a pretty penny. Just exactly how are video game product managers going about pricing their products?