Today’s interview is with someone a few of you might be familiar with – the fantastic Michel Chevalier. Michel has a fascinating background – with stints at the Boston Consulting Group, Paco Rabanne, and Bluebell Asia Group (which manages brands like Moschino, Blumarine, and Carven internationally), he is a well known figure in the luxury goods industry. Michel has authored several of the key texts used by students of luxury management today, and has taught and continues to teach at INSEAD, ISML and HEC in Paris. Enjoy meeting Michel!
Who are you? What do you do, and where do you live?
My name is Michel Chevalier and I have been lucky enough to live in France, in Germany, in Spain, in the USA, in Latin America, in Japan, in Hong Kong and in China. I did not plan it that way but I had for example, the opportunity to go and study in the United States and I just took it.
I am now a consultant with EIM in Paris, an activity which is actually almost unrelated to the luxury field, but I also appear as speaker, keynote speaker or teacher in many part of the world and I write and publish books on luxury (Luxury Brand Management, Luxury Retail Management and Luxury China…and I am working on a new one), just for fun and because it is interesting.
You have had a very accomplished and diverse career in the luxury industry. Can you share how your career began and evolved?
I came to the luxury sector without realizing it. I was General Manager of Johnson Wax Venezuela in Caracas, and I wanted to come back to Paris. I was offered a job of General Manager of Paco Rabanne Parfums and I did not know there was a difference between creating and selling a fast moving consumer good (FMCG) and a perfume. I had to learn the hard way.
There basically are two differences:
1. For a FMCG, you can test so much that you are almost sure it will be a success : the risk of failure is much higher in the luxury field.
2. In a FMCG company, you sell your product in one country, or you have subsidiaries in many countries. These products test locally and sometimes come with different products (or at least different positioning) before they launch in different countries. In luxury you must launch the same product from one single country (France or Italy or the USA). Then, the same product must be found everywhere in the world, very often without using subsidiaries but distributors or retailers (who use their money to develop your brand). Continue Reading