This week we had interview with Roberto Sergi, Regional General Manager of fashion brand Pinko. With him we discovered that actually Italian and Chinese culture are very similar and in an international environment the secret for the success is to be able to catch and embrace the good sides of the mix of the talents from the two backgrounds.
- Please introduce your experience and your brand presence in Shanghai:
Pinko Shanghai office is purely commercial, acts as a distributor in whole Asia, including Korea, Singapore, Australia, Japan and China. We have now more than 100 monobrand shops, with offices in Shanghai, HongKong and Tokyo.
Pinko as a brand has a contemporary style, affordable in the price, its positioning is in the luxury shopping mall but with entry to luxury price point.This is a trend and a segment of the market that is very strongly growing in China: new and opposite to fast fashion. So, thanks to our positioning, we are strong and also growing as well. At the moment for us the China market covers the 25% of the whole international market. Our development strategy is in line with the macro one of China as a Country, to be able to serve the growing middle class and its expenditure capacity. This is a slow and long process, but we are ready, because our plans for the future are similar to China ones: we also plan long term, with a vision of 30 years ahead!
- How do you see the advantages of being present in China for your sector?
I would like first to say that we cannot talk about advantages and disadvantages in absolute terms. It depends on your ability to overcome and solve disadvantages and grasp the good sides. In our sector the good parts of being in China are absolutely big. China has expanded from a supply chain market to the sales market. In the future it will be a place where brands will find sources of creativity. Without doubts internationally the fashion trends are becoming more and more global. Even if this is a simple concept, it is proved that fashion tastes are the same and cross the boundaries of the whole world. We are also going in this direction and lately we are drawing from the local emerging young creativity inspirations. For example we did some photography contest in cooperation with the universities observing how the young consumers see our brand.
Being an Italian brand in China means being able to combine the Italian style codes, in our case “being bold” and “sexy” for example, with the local sense of creativity. In the following years we expect very interesting ideas coming out from this environment and we are getting ready to get the best out of it, in order to match the two aspects.
- Which kind of challenges did you have to overcome in your experience of working in two different cultures?
In my opinion it is not totally correct to define China and Italy as two different cultures. For example, I find more differences between North and South Europe. In terms of cultural values, China and Italy are strongly aligned, and the differences are more on the appearance than on the deep meanings. If you are able to open yourself to China for real, you will find out that there are no substantial differences. Slight variations in the approaches still resist, for example China is very fast and very big, while Italy is small and dedicates more attention to details. Maybe the only big challenge is to convince people that even if it sounds difficult, big things and successful projects can really be realized.
- Last year the whole world had to change the approach to marketing, fairs and exhibitions and got online: talk about your experience.
We had participated to the Shanghai online Fashion Week that we prepared in only five days. Our office in shanghai has a team of n.50 people but we cooperate with external experts for marketing. In the case of the Fashion Week, we got the help of Alibaba in Hangzhou, that made it possible and successful. We also arranged digital campaigns of sales that gave us good results. I think this is a special moment, but in the future when we will be able to travel again, our clients from Asia will still want to visit the Italian stores personally. In our sector the process will change a bit but not radically, for example maybe buyers from Asia will plan personal visit abroad but with less frequency.
- Which kind of insights would you give to other Italian companies that are approaching the Chinese market?
The most important thing is to be very ready in advance and to do all the homework before deciding the China strategy. Planning, feasibility and market research studies are the most crucial aspect. The big decision is if to invest or not in China. A deep feasibility study and knowledge of the various aspects of the market are the key to be able to implement a project. This can give to the brand the awareness of its position in the market and an insight of the effects and reactions in terms of interest in the public of reference. The choice of the right timing is also very important. Last but not least: take in consideration not only the international competition but also the local one. Even if they are not as tough, they need to be studied too.
Thanks a lot for the time to Roberto Sergi for his time and to our trainee Angelica Wang for her support. Stay tuned for the next interview!
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