Naomi Kitta, a part-time MBA student of Tsukuba University, Japan, and the Product Manager who is also responsible for Communication & Marketing Operations and Consumer Goods Business in Swarovski, Japan, came with her passion for fashion & luxury marketing to GEM to participate in a short-term program called MSc Fashion Design & Luxury Management from February 23~27, 2015.
France, the capital of Fashion & Luxury
France is a leading country in the fashion industry. Fashion is an important part of its cultural life and society, and the French people are well known for good taste. The fashion industry has been an important cultural export of France since the 17th century. There are many premier fashion brands, such as Pierre Cardin, Céline, Chloe, Dior, Givenchy, Jean Paul Gaultier, Hermès, and Louis Vuitton etc.
Specialized Courses in Fashion and Luxury Inspired Me Immediately
I started my career in L’Oreal Paris in Japan as a Public Relations communicator and now work as a product Manager and I am responsible for communication & marketing operations and consumer goods business in Swarovski Japan. I have been working in the fashion and luxury sector for years. However, while I am doing my part-time MBA study in Tsukuba University in Tokyo, I have realized that most of the MBA studies focus on general business and they are not specific to what I have been practicing. I know that luxury brand is one of the outstanding elements of France in terms of culture and business. I would like to see how the teachers here illustrate the luxury brand management to the students.
Some general business management tactics don’t fit in my daily work. The courses in this program concentrate on fashion and luxury. Everything fits my work and I completely understand what the professors have lectured in the class. This helps me develop our business much better.
I like the atmosphere in class and at GEM
GEM is a very international and energetic school. I am quite surprised to have people from different cultures. It is very exciting to find that everybody talks equally, no matter where they come from. At class, it is all about discussion. The professors gave some topics and everybody expressed their opinion freely. In Japan, we need to respect higher position and other people. The way how we discuss is very different.We try to express things in an indirect way. I think it is very good to have this kind of opportunity to discuss because it gives so many international backgrounds and creative ideas. Everyone brought different perspective to the class. We can learn from each other. It is very important to have that kind of conversation. We may see each other again in the business world again, it is good to networking.
Japanese Culture vs. French Culture in terms of Fashion and Luxury
The common ground between the Japanese and the French is that we like fashion and beautiful things. When we talk about how to communicate with consumers, this common point facilitates our conversation in Swarovski, because all of our colleagues want to make something beautiful for the consumers. Luxury is a kind of not-must- have product. Consumers can use the money for traveling, for jewelry, for high-end cosmetic, for a new car or something else. Everything can be the competitor. We have to know the target customers very well and know how they spend their money rather than commodity.
In Europe, people have opportunity to wear more jewelry when they go to party or to work, because it is part of the culture. In Japan, we don’t have that culture; we wear delicate and small jewelry and try not to show too much. What we are selling in Japan and in Europe is very different. Even in Asia, Japan, Korea and China have different tastes about jewelry. We are allowed to focus on what we can sell in the Japanese culture by following our headquarters’ vision and leveraging global resources. The success of marketing for jewelry in Swarovski is a combination of local taste and global vision.
Advice for Career Advancement in Fashion & Luxury Industry
I have a bachelor degree on International Litigation. My first career started in the United States in an Internet company. I came back to Japan and L’Oreal Paris gave me the opportunity and I learned high-end fashion from there. The most difficult part for my career transformation was to know the characteristics of the industry and customers. I have overcome that and found my passion and direction in fashion and luxury marketing. Don’t be afraid of trying and find what fit you most.
Interview done by Miki Lin, Communication Assistant, Center for International Affairs.