This event was such a surprise that even fantasy writers could not have imagined such a global disaster. And this is a just the beginning. The real and big problem is the way things will change. First of all, the consumer will change and become much more guarded and cautious yet volatile at the same time. The first thing we worried about was the financial aspect of our customers, the March and April payments, which we moved to later months. It was a good advantage for the storekeeper who lives on what he sells because a good storekeeper invests more than what he has and if no sales come in, that is the first difficulty. We are a sturdy company and, fortunately, have been able to manage this crisis but the losses will be enormous and we will have to work hard for the next two years to return to how it was before.
How are you preparing for the re-start?
We will re-start extremely solidly because we have managed to create a series of products that are more in line with this particular moment in order to overcome the anomalies that have occurred. Let me say that we Italians have done a lot of disastrous things. First and foremost, we haven’t love Italy as we much as we should. We are a country that lives well, even with our defects, which are also our assets. I like the Italian who re-invents himself, who draws on that creative genius that belongs to us as a people. For example, I have banned the use of English names in my company. We are Italian and we have to let the world know that our language is wonderful: the culture that each of us already has inside when we are born should be nurtured because no other country has this good fortune.
How are you the interpreters of this exceptional patrimony?
We express our Italianness in our jewelry. Then, if we want to look at it more broadly, it also means being more human, trying to be more united, no longer taking care of our own garden by ourselves. I have invested enormously in the territory. I have tried to change the cultural aspect of the country in which I live. And I believe that jewelry is a privileged vehicle for this message of human relations that is being vastly transmitted.
What is your recipe for the gold-jewelry sector’s recovery?
The jewelry world should be built starting from the consumers because I’m afraid they have been distracted and it is our duty to bring them back. We have to motivate them with constant messages, remind them that jewelry is part of their lives. We, for example, have continued to operate fully on all the social networks in terms of communication and marketing. As for production, we are already on stand-by to re-start. The warehouse is ready and all we are waiting for is the stores to open. If they re-open on 18th May, we will also start, the week after, with the goods. We have always stock-built and so we are ready for any request. However, the jewelry stores are lacking in one fundamental ingredient: they need to dare. Consumers will never stop rewarding themselves and we have to be ready. Producers need to shift from the usual standards because our customers are much more prepared than storekeepers and companies cannot let themselves be influenced by storekeepers. We need to reawaken the desire to buy jewelry by offering something new.
A re-start from the sales point too then?
We have more than 4,000 sales points throughout Italy. If I were to snapshot the storekeeper, what I could tell him is that he has to move, get updated, use the internet. But they are still reluctant to embrace certain innovations because they are afraid. My son deals with the product and, when we go to a trade show, I always suggest going to see the designer-artisans. These people are further ahead than any of us. They use their creativity to stand out and they do so with exceptional ideas.
USA, Asia, e-commerce?
We are going forward with e-commerce in Asia. In order to sell to the Chinese, you need to find the right formula. You cannot tell stories if you don’t know the people you are trying to sell to. The same goes for the USA, where, like in Italy, everything is at a standstill at the moment. We will re-start at a different speed but it will take all of 2020 and half of 2021. Everything depends on the people and when they will be able to gather in groups again. Until that normality returns, communication cannot be as it was before. Going back to e-commerce, we don’t want to push too much in Italy because we already have a lot of physical stores but, generally speaking, we can say that it is constantly growing on a global scale.
It is predicted that, by 2040, over 50% of sales in China will be by e-commerce but that figure largely depends on territory and culture. There are cities that do not have all the assortment that the world offers. Instead, going to trade shows is still hugely popular because they are of vital importance. But I expect something more. It is a little like what is happening now: you stop, you come out of your company and see something different, especially in human relations.
The trade show is public relations and as many people as possible need to attend them.