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Chanel and Digitalization

Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel, since she started her own modelhouse between the years 1909-1910 until her very last days, has always stayed loyal to her organizational values. Her aim was to give freedom, comfort and elegance to women at the same time. With the brand she established, she revolutionized 20th century women’s fashion. During the 1st and the 2nd world war, she didn’t only maintain her strong presence but also, despite all the dificulties, contiued to grow the brand which would bear her name for centuries.

Today, Chanel is the most powerful representative of luxury. After the decisions made, which have changed and inspired the history of fashion in the past, Chanel attracts huge amount of attention with its anti-digitalization strategy which is still on the agenda.

As is known, with the rise of e-commerce small and huge all the brands have started a struggle among themselves on the new front opened in the retail war. All in all with the onset of pandemic in 2020, even the brands that progress slowly in e-commerce have found themselves in this commerce network and finally the battlefield of fashion has expanded.

Last year, the giant company being one of the brands that have taken the heaviest blow, has recorded 10% decline. Everyone including its luxury rivals has started wondering if this will be the time for Chanel to enter into e-commerce. ( I’d like to remark here that, even with the 10 % decline Chanel has achieved 10.1 billion dollars product sales last year.) Do you think Chanel, which has just sold perfumes and cosmetics on digital platform, will also sell clothes, shoes,bags and jewellery online? The answer is NO! Chanel has refused to enter this war again. Despite the e-commerce that has been going on for 20 years, their reluctance continues and company executives are insistent on the fact that there is no need to change the current strategy.

Chanel executives state that Chanel is in the business of selling Luxury and it’s impossible to present this personal touch online. Company currently has 206 boutiques. Personalized shopping experience and the interaction between buyers and fashion consultants is the foundation of their own strategy.

Last week Global CFO-Chanel, Phillip Blondiaux made a statement to BOF saying that:‘ Our focus continues to be on customer relationship in our stores. We’d like to protect our customers’ luxury experience by presenting personalized relationships’ Time will show whether Chanel’s stance on digital sales is logical but there are signs that it will be the right strategy. Last year the increase in price didn’t stop customers from rushing into stores and that was once again the proof of Chanel’s having a great brand value.

Yes, the future is digital but it seems that commerce will not only stay online. While their rivals keep on developing new strategies in order to increase their sales, Chanel, rather than making concessions will continue to uphold its fundamental principles which is extremely brave and inspiring.

The empire established by this tremendously strong woman exists and I love this. I’d like to end with my favourite quote of hers.

“ Some people think Luxury is the opposite of poverty. It is not. It is the opposite of vulgarity.” Coco Chanel


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