Today we heard a presentation from the head of marketing from Bottega Valasca, a company that specializes in handmade men’ shoes. We also visited their sorting factory and one of their flagship stores in Milan. The company’s main goal is to be a reference point for high quality shoes within the market. They have many competitors, so I thought it was interesting that they target such a specific market segment; their target market consists of professional men ages 25 and up. Valasca focuses on this specific market segment in order to create the most reliable product for their customers. The most important thing stressed in the presentation was the company’s direct to consumer business model. This basically means that Valasca tries to eliminate as many middle men as possible in their selling process in order to eliminate extra costs for the customer; this is why the company mostly tries to sell their products through online markets. Recently, though, they discovered actual stores would add authority to their brand and started to open some. I thought it was interesting that the shoes sold in the store are no more expensive than those online; Valasca absorbs all the extra costs for the customer.
Also, actual stores are not the only way that Valasca is trying to expand their reach. They also use many different advertising strategies online to try and target as many customers as possible. One of their most useful and informative techniques is advertising through Facebook; when someone views an ad, the company can buy the data on how many people saw it, along with the data associated with the accounts of the people who viewed it. This can include name, age, gender, occupation, location, etc. This is a way that the shoe producing company is becoming known worldwide, as it has customers all around Europe and even in the US. They are expanding quickly. In my opinion, Valasca has a similar strategy to Dell. The computer company Dell sells its technology directly from its website to the customers, eliminating unnecessary middlemen such as Best Buy and therefore eliminating extra costs for consumers. This is very similar to what Valasca wishes to accomplish. Both companies are very focused on the customer and creating the best possible experience for them. For example, Valasca offers free and fast shipping and free returns. This extraordinary customer service will help their business go far. In contrast, Valasca is obviously opening their own stores while Dell is not, but I believe this is more necessary for the shoe business. Customers may want to see shoes in person and try them on, while trying out a computer is less necessary. The two companies are also marketing to very different segments; Dell is trying to sell to people who need computers and businesses who need computers, while Valasca I mentioned above. It is interesting how their strategies for selling their products are similar.
In addition, the organizational culture of Bottega Valasca is unique compared to other companies because it is more relaxed and casual. The woman who spoke to us today said that at her previous job as a consultant, she had to dress very professionally and everyone was very serious all of the time at the firm. However, in Valasca, the owners are mostly friends with all of their employees, and it is a much more laid back work environment. The employees dress business casual and are much more friendly with each other on a day to day basis. This is different than many corporate structures. It is also very open and creative. I thought it was interesting that the firm asked a social media celebrity to help them design a new line of shoes; this shows that they are very open to new ideas from outside sources. This fluidity in the company culture in the workplace is important for a firm in the fashion industry.
In conclusion, the startup shoe company Valasca has been growing significantly since its launch in 2007, and it is impressive that they expect to double in revenues each year. They specialize in young to older, professional men’s working or dress shoes. With a structure similar to that of Dell’s, it is essential for them to use marketing and also stores to expand their reach. I hope I see a Bottega Valasca soon in the US.