Facing transforming marketing & sales challenges in fast changing global markets. The Luxottica way

EMMS - Executive Master in Marketing & Sales


Milano, 23 January 2020
The 14th Edition of EMMS is on. Just started! EMMS is the SDA Bocconi’s international Executive Master in Marketing & Sales done in partnership with ESADE Business School.

This time for the master’s Opening Day, I have had the great pleasure to invite Paolo Alberti (President of Worldwide wholesale market, Luxottica Group). Paolo has performed an insightful and energized key note on marketing & sales.

Luxottica is a 9 billion company (2018), an Italian global player leader in the eyewear markets and recently merged with Essilor. The company handles a huge marketing & sales complexity as result of many product brands distributed all over the World. Just talking of Luxottica, among many proprietary brands there are Ray-Ban, Luxottica, Oakley, Persol, Oliver People. Among licensed brands: Armani, Bulgari, Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana, Prada, Ralph Lauren, Valentino and some more. Many are also the brands part of Luxottica’s rich retail portfolio: for example Alain Mikli, Lens Crafters, Pearle Vision, Oakley, Oticas Carol, Ray-Ban, Salmoiraghi & Viganò, Sunglass Hut and more.

 With about 87 million of frames and sunglasses sold, Luxottica is systematically trying to move a step forward in the business competition. It's showing a truly innovative spirit while facing the fast changing transformational trends in global consumer markets. Like in many other sectors, the biggest challenges have come from a crazy digital transformation, sustainability, political instability and rapid demographic evolutions. “We all know we’re a living in a crazy global transformational age…” Paolo said. They have led Luxottica to deeply adapt and transform its way of doing marketing and selling, embracing more than ever social consciousness, and deploying a successful sustainability strategy. “Current generations are already sensitive to these aspects and new generations, won’t forgive mistakes or weaknesses from big corporations like Luxottica.  That is why, motivated by our founder - Mr. Del Vecchio - we've been cultivating and growing a new managerial spirit devoted to innovation. It is a key marketing value driver, and part of our company’s Dna ”

 Paolo has highlighted how difficult is, in the current World scenario, to play global for a vertical integrated company like Luxottica. “Speed and adaptation of our marketing and sales resources, are key for the company’s success… “Political stability is definitely behind us, we just live in a continuous political unrest…”. Paolo has highlighted how more often they are facing rich and profitable markets rapidly “deflating” or, on the opposite, apparently less attractive markets "inflating" fast due to political changes. In these scenarios, building new marketing channels, or reshaping the existing ones, sounds like a company’s mantra, and seems like Luxottica has been accelerating its commercial excellence thanks to it. Of course, the markets’ fast digitalization is playing a key role, not only in terms of communication (for example in new social media strategies), but also in terms of value distribution.

“Since we started to integrate the physical and online customers’ touch points, we soon realized how crazy important it was - and it will be in the future - to plan a clear effective Omni-channel strategy… We are now bringing, in retail and independent wholesale channels, a lot more hi-tech innovations designed to give our consumers and opticians, new buying and unforgettable experiences. Pure brick and mortar vs pure digital are over for Luxottica. Digital and physical must play like parts of a unique body.

For example…” Paolo said, “We recently developed proprietary seamless technologies and implemented new RFID for in store marketing story telling. Touch displays and advanced user friendly digital trying-on interfaces have also enabled new ways to interact and integrate themselves in other customer touchpoints. They are starting to work great at both b2c and b2b levels. In the wholesale channels, thanks to our STAR Partnership Program on selected independent opticians, we are now able to manage - from remote - part of the optician’s assortment and stock, often improving dramatically the store competitive and economic performances. A real disruptive win-win collaborative approach! In our experience…” continued Paolo “…all these innovations - and many others - are allowing Luxottica to achieve higher efficiency and effectiveness. We are now capable to show in a store much more SKUs (Endless Assortment Philosophy), and better target the core value messages to final and intermediate customers. They are significantly improving seller and buyer marketing speed and sell-in/out performances".

Transforming Luxottica in real Omni-channel Company will take years, but it looks like it is already affecting their product management philosophy. “We’re rapidly moving from a philosophy to a modern …We really believe in the strategic role of affordable customization, at least starting from most innovative and strategic market segments.” There are several best practices on all of that in Luxottica and Paolo, during his talk, has focused on one of them: Oakley.

Oakley is an icon in sports, is a visionary brand since its foundation a long time ago. In recent years, it boosted up by combining past and present innovations and brand meanings, thus dramatically recovering and expanding the brand’s performances and values. “Oakley, like other Luxottica’s brands, is strategic for us, and often plays as incubator for real disruptive products, communication and distribution innovations. These innovations need more energies, curiosity and bravery from executives. These are necessary skills to make impossible challenges becoming possible. We just won several ones…for example the e-commerce challenge, with a rocket growing digital channel; the communication one, becoming – first time in the history - official sponsor in the upcoming Olympiads of both USA and China teams; the branding challenges, with disruptive marketing campaigns; the real and virtual stores, with a lot more cool digital experience inside”.

Obviously, to make it happen, there is a need for continuous transformation in the organization and marketing & sales competencies. “We need to enable ourselves to move steps forward while preserving our brands and partners values,” Paolo said.

Cool, somebody may say…but he remarked how “…we step up continuously our innovations, at all levels, from product to customer experiences. That is the reason why we are always looking for marketing and sales executives ready to step out from their comfort zone and to bloom, to be fast and adaptive”.

 People to be on-boarded in the company’s strategic challenges. They are always looking for new marketing and sales talents while investing in marketing and sales competencies. "We have also strengthen our relationships with top academic players”. For example, since 2016 Luxottica is Main Sponsor of SDA Bocconi’s CEL - Commercial Excellence Lab, a research and dissemination centre on hot topics in sales and marketing” ; from 2019 Luxottica started to support a chair @Bocconi University..

Paolo had a very intense Q&A time with us and in a perfect “Emms style” thus making his key note a warm and insightful managerial talk.


SDA Bocconi School of Management

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