Interview with Michael Grieve, Vice President Brand and Customer Engagement at Gucci

Ahead of his panel at the Marketing Association’s Brainy Breakfast on November 30, Kiwi expat Michael Grieve explores the incredible marketing prowess of the international brands he’s worked across, and how Kiwi marketers can emulate that success.

What makes the New Zealand marketing style so distinctive?

“Our ability to have fun and not take ourselves too seriously is an amazing attribute,” says Michael Grieve, when asked what makes New Zealand’s marketing style so distinctive.

He adds: “Some of the best and most creative advertising work comes out of New Zealand based agencies, and that is something we should all be really proud of.”

That is high praise indeed coming from someone as credentialled as Grieve, whose career started managing the Mini brand in Auckland and has since taken him to Germany (as Global Retail Marketing Manager for Adidas), before six years with Nike (where he managed the iconic Jordan brand in EMEA) before landing at global fashion house Gucci in Milan, where he is Vice President of Brand and Client Engagement.

How passion and purpose is reflected in brands

Grieve says what ties these brands together is knowing exactly who they are and what they stand for.

“Along with having the best in class product, they know what they want and where they are going, and this confidence is transferred into the market. I have been fortunate to have worked with some incredibly talented people throughout my career. People with passion make great organisations, and great organisations are often great brands,” he says.

Kiwi marketers often look to these types of international brands for inspiration and ideas. For Grieve, today’s iconic brands are the sum of their parts. Whether you sit in Auckland, New York or Milan, the universal truth is the need to know your customer.

“Understand what moves them and how you will exceed their expectations through every touchpoint along the brand journey; Deliver a story that is compelling, and most importantly, authentic,” he says. “In the era of social media and fake news, authenticity is an attribute that is more powerful and important than ever. Stay true to who you are, always.”

Where the magic starts to happen

Despite our creative prowess at the bottom of the earth, there is still a lot we can learn from large international brands. Although there are not many brands that can occupy the same space as Gucci, Grieve says what makes these brands worth looking up to is their ability to capture the imagination of their customer by consistently raising the bar.

“They make their customers believe in something bigger than themselves, and through this belief they transcend to a new, emotional level of engagement which is beyond the core product or service they offer.

“New Zealand marketers need to be clear on what it is you are offering; find your voice; then explore these together through the lens of your end consumer – this is where the magic starts to happen,” he says.

Why Gucci offers a masterclass in marketing for brands to emulate

Looking at who your customers really are and connecting with them in authentic ways has become even more important following the trials and tribulations of the last 18 months.

Gucci has offered a masterclass in marketing for any brand to emulate - its mission to create cut-through social campaigns, using its bevvy of celebrity endorsements to create its own chat show with comedian James Corden and a host of superstar names - who all happened to be decked out in their latest ranges. The result - record sales above pre-pandemic levels.

As Grieve points out, the rapid acceleration of digital during the pandemic reaffirmed its strategic importance as an engagement and retention tool.

He explains: “It placed a spotlight on critical areas such as customer loyalty and retention. Through this ordeal, what can’t be denied is the need for human touch, and because of this, the idea of community becomes much more powerful.

“As we return to a new normality, these are some of the macro dynamics that I believe will shape the post-COVID engagement model for modern organisations.”

Gucci has always been an iconic brand in the high-end luxury space, but even this 100-year-old business isn’t immune to change. It’s next frontier - and a potentially massive opportunity for any fashion brand, has seen it expand into the Metaverse, kitting out players in Roblox with Gucci accessories. The potential here, is staggering.

“As the marketplace evolves, the way in which we connect does too. With the speed of change we are witnessing, established functions today may not exist tomorrow. What I feel most excited about is how the Metaverse will shape the future marketplace, and how this paradigm shift in conjunction with the social revolution will entirely re-write the rules of brand engagement,” says Grieve.

“This is the opportunity that lies ahead of us.”

Michael Grieve was interviewed by Courtney Devereux from Clear Hayes, the Marketing Association's official Content Partner. Courtney is the former editor of StopPress magazine and current editor of
Nak-Ed magazine."

Don’t miss Michael’s take on the New Zealand marketing Industry and more at the Marketing Association’s Brainy Breakfast live-streamed on November 30.