As one of the main architects of Luxury Marketing, Vincent Bastien has had an influential role in the development of the luxury market. His experience as CEO of Louis Vuitton, Yves Saint Laurent Perfume and Lancel have put him at the forefront of an exciting and growing industry. Now, he is sharing his experience with students as Professor of Marketing at HEC Paris.
“Before the MBA, I was an engineer. I had no idea about anything in Business. So, I went to HEC Paris MBA. I was very happy with what I learned because it had a very good payback for my whole life. It helped me become CEO very quickly and be able to manage easily.
I’ve been CEO of different big companies in Luxury and out of luxury (in glass and printing industry). My career path was funny. I started off in a sales position at the lowest level and lowest salary. If I was good, I could move quicker. Very quickly I was sales manager, then I became sales boss of a company and then I was appointed plant manager. I was quickly named CEO of Saint Gobain Desjonqueres. It was a company which was almost in bankruptcy. I was 29, so I was really young in a company of 10,000 people. In a very good job, if you’re young and they propose it to you, that means there is a big problem and nobody wants it… and nobody wanted it. So, I said ok, let’s go. I was afraid of nothing. That’s the good thing about the MBA. You learn how to do things. Also, I discovered a totally new strategy to fix the problem. This was the first step in my conception of a new totally different marketing strategy. It worked very well. In four years, Saint Gobain Desjonqueres became the most profitable part of Saint Gobain group. It was number one in the world. A big success.
What was interesting was I found a new strategy. On the market where I was, B2B and glass market, it was very difficult to implement. I was contacted at this time by a family that owned a very small company called Louis Vuitton. It was very small at this time but they were brilliant and ambitious. They called me and said Mr. Bastien, “We want to be number one in the world but we don’t know how to do it. Will you join us?” I accepted and joined them as CEO of Louis Vuitton. Then, we started to build Louis Vuitton with my strategy and the strategy they had invented inside. We mixed both of them and created a totally unique strategy. The success of Louis Vuitton was due to the strategy. Of course there were good bags, good everything, etc, but basically the strategy was different.
Seven years ago, I decided I was just old enough to stop working as CEO. I wanted to spend some time with my family and take some time out for myself. I decided to be a teacher to share my experience in the strategy of luxury.
Now, let’s go to careers in the luxury market. You will be surprised but the people who succeeded in the luxury market were not people of luxury.. nor people of money. You will be surprised by the level of connaisance of art, people and culture. So, if you like people.. if you like culture, then you can go into luxury.”
FranceClass of 1972
Former CEO - Louis Vuitton, Yves Saint Laurent Perfume and Lancel