Moncler to Step Up Digitization in China as Online Race Heats Up, CEO Says
Chen Juan
/SOURCE : yicai
Moncler to Step Up Digitization in China as Online Race Heats Up, CEO Says

(Yicai Global) Feb. 1 -- Moncler, the Italian apparel maker known for its up-market down jackets, plans to enhance its digital business in China after successfully debuting its Genius collection here through Alibaba Group's dedicated website for premium brands.

The Milan-based luxury fashion house plans to speed up development of its marketing and sales through online and mobile platforms in the country, Chief Executive Remo Ruffini said in a recent interview with Yicai Global.

Moncler has already embraced digital marketing in China, the world's biggest luxury market. It was among the first luxury brands to experiment with WeChat, Tencent Holdings' ubiquitous lifestyle app, opening its first online pop-up store in China for limited capsule collection in 2017, and it premiered an 18-day online pop-up shop on Alibaba's Tmall Luxury Pavilion last September, offering six lines of its Genius collection.

"We are more and more focused on digital communication to enhance our digital strategy in China," the 57-year old Ruffini said in written responses to questions. "Moncler's new approach to digital contents is more and more focused on digital and omnichannel on an international level and on the Chinese market particularly."

"Today we live in a new era driven by digital and the 'digital natives,'" he said. "The Chinese luxury market is quite peculiar as millennials and Generation Y are the major contributors to its growth."

Those two groups are expected to account for 46 percent of global luxury consumption by 2025, compared with 32 percent in 2017, according to a report Bain & Co. published in November.

Moncler will become utterly unique and have a 100 percent sense of innovation, with a series of hybrid influential marketing strategies and new forms of advertising that span both the WeChat platform and other online media, Ruffini added.

Digital Rivalry

Competitor brand Canada Goose expanded actively in the Chinese market last year. The Toronto-based maker of outdoor wear not only opened brick-and-mortar flagship stores in Beijing and Hong Kong but will also work with Alibaba's Tmall to sell its products on the e-commerce platform.

"The development of digital has become an increasingly important feature of competition among companies in China," Ruffini said in reply to a question on how the company views Canada Goose. "With more and more new brands entering the market and international brands stepping up their presence, market competition is surely heating up."

The successful launch of the Moncler Genius collection in China helped to greatly burnish the company's financial results. In the first half of last year, its worldwide annual revenue jumped 42 percent. 

Moncler is unveiling its Fall/Winter 2019 version of the project today, to which "changes were made to strengthen the dialog with consumers," Ruffini said.

"Remo Ruffini conceived Moncler Genius as a new communication and business model that acknowledges the diversity of the contemporary customer in the digital era," the company said in a statement today. "Moncler Genius is an answer to the times, a symposium of creative minds and an inspiring place," the press release quoted Ruffini as saying. "Each Genius operates singularly and the sum of the Geniuses interprets the Moncler identity."

The brand disrupted its traditional twice-yearly rhythm of fashion shows and unveiled its first Genius collection a year ago, unveiling eight collections by different designers in a holistic manner in monthly releases. The new strategy marks Moncler's ushering in of a new era, with bold leaps that will lead the company in a new creative direction, Ruffini told Yicai Global. "Moncler DNA is what will characterize the upcoming Moncler Genius collections," he added.

"Moncler has constantly offered through its collaborations with different designers, new interpretations of its iconic jackets, proposing an individual and unrestrained style that goes beyond fashion and seasons, with a clear objective in mind: keeping Moncler DNA ... Each designer translates the brand roots and heritage and all of them interpret the Moncler identity," Ruffini said.

He stressed that, "companies must deliver their brand message properly and be able to meet and adapt to customer's expectations and requirements."

Italian Move

Founded in the French city of Grenoble in 1952, Moncler's name is a shortening of that of the nearby town of Monestier-de-Clermont. It was a once-venerable ski wear brand that was becoming old hat and teetering on the edge of bankruptcy when Ruffini took over in 2003. 

After moving home to Italy, one of his key changes to revive the brand was to develop new retail channels to make the company's products available not just in professional sports clothing stores. Moncler's stock price [BIT:MONC] has more than tripled in value since the company went public on the Borsa Italiana in 2013. 

Ruffini has also sought to cooperate with various brands in other garment segments such as Junya Watanabe, Fendi and Nicolas Ghesquière, and hired famous stylists Thom Browne and Giambattista Valli to design clothes for men and women. All of this was part of Ruffini's push to turn Moncler into a genuine fashion brand.

His efforts struck pay dirt. In the first half of last year, annual revenue rose 21 percent to EUR493.5 million (USD566.4 million) from a year earlier, compared with the USD62 million logged in 2003. Annual revenue reached a new pinnacle of EUR210 million thanks to rising consumption in China and Japan.

Moncler's next objective in the Chinese market is to prepare for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

Editor: Ben Armour

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Keywords: Moncler , Remo Ruffini