A few weeks ago, 11 MBA for Executives students along with several full-time MBA students traveled to Milan for a Global Modular Course: Luxury Branding and Retailing in Italy and Beyond. The purpose of the course was to help us learn more about the unique challenges of luxury branding and understand consumer behavior in retail environments. We were joined by business and fashion students from Bocconi Business School. In addition to learning from Wharton and Bocconi professors, we also had guest speakers from Italian luxury companies, such as Bulgari, YOOX, and Luxottica. The highlight for me was the site visits. We visited Versace’s Headquarters and Ralph Lauren’s flagship store in Italy.
One of the key takeaways for me was learning how luxury goods companies maintain their luxury status, as opposed to becoming a brand for the masses. One way in which they do this is through creating scarcity. This was so counter-intuitive for me coming from a consumer products and medical device background, where we want to be able to meet the demand with enough supply in order to maximize sales. But in the luxury goods industry, these brands are willing to sacrifice some level of sales for the sake of maintaining their exclusivity. Different companies employ different methodologies to maintain this scarcity.
On the retail side, we learned a lot about consumer’s shopping behavior and what are effective influencers. Through case study discussions and a guest speaker from YOOX, we also learned about retailing principles as they apply to the eCommerce space.
During my time at Wharton, I’ve been able to participate in three Global Modular Courses. Learning in this type of an environment is so valuable. You are in a locale where the learnings can be applied immediately! You also get to hear first-hand from experts in that region. The site visits really bring to life the lessons you learn in the classroom. In such a short time (typically three days), you are fully immersed in the topic and leave with a greater understanding and, oftentimes, a new-found passion and enthusiasm for taking action. It’s also a great opportunity to interact with the full-time MBA students, as well as WEMBA students from the San Francisco campus.
After the course, my husband and I traveled to Lake Como and Venice for a mini-vacation. It’s hard to believe that my two years is coming to an end, but this Italy course was definitely a nice way to start bringing the program to a close.
Megha Reddy is a second year WEMBA student concentrating in Marketing and Operations Management. She currently works at Johnson & Johnson where she does New Product Development for the medical device division focused on Diabetes Management.