New Gap CEO Richard Dickson recently shared his thoughts on the struggling company, shedding light on his experience since joining from toy business Mattel. Acknowledging the lack of clarity in Gap’s message, Dickson emphasized the need for an edit and a renewed focus on the company’s great products. Speaking at the Voices conference in Oxfordshire, U.K., Dickson highlighted the heavy reliance on promotions and discounts, which overshadowed the essence of what Gap truly stood for. With a screenshot of Gap’s website showcasing money-off messages behind him, Dickson used visual evidence to illustrate the company’s past missteps.
As a former president and chief operating officer at Mattel, Dickson faced similar challenges when he took on the role of reviving the declining Barbie brand. Reflecting on his decision to leave a thriving business with a blockbuster movie and a great team, Dickson emphasized how the opportunity to transform Gap was too enticing to ignore. Despite initial doubts from others, Dickson believed in the potential of Gap and its four brands: Athleta, Old Navy, Banana Republic, and the flagship Gap brand. He acknowledged the need for differentiation among these brands and expressed his commitment to communicating their uniqueness through every detail.
To breathe new life into Gap, Dickson believes that revisiting the company’s origin story is crucial. He recounted how Gap started as a humble San Francisco store in 1969, initially aiming to bridge the generation gap by catering to different age groups. However, with Doris Fisher’s bold decision to strike out the word “Generation,” the store became simply known as “The Gap.” Dickson passionately expressed the need for Gap to hearken back to its roots and reestablish a cultural conversation that resonates with the present.
In order to revitalize Gap and regain its relevance, Dickson emphasized the importance of creativity and risk-taking. He spoke about the potential of advertising campaigns that capture the essence of Gap’s denim roots, providing a hint of what future ads might look like. Dickson urged the company and its community to embrace failure as a catalyst for growth, urging them to take swings and unlock their creative potential. By tapping into the company’s origin story and combining it with innovative marketing strategies, Gap can once again become a force to be reckoned with in the apparel industry.
While Gap’s recent financial performance has been underwhelming, Dickson remains optimistic about the future. With third-quarter earnings surpassing analysts’ expectations, albeit with a muted holiday sales forecast, Dickson views these as opportunities for growth. Despite a 15% decline in revenue for the Gap brand, the company’s overall shares have seen a significant increase of about 78% in the year to date. Dickson’s leadership and experience in transforming brands, as evident in Mattel’s Barbie success story, provide hope for Gap’s future prosperity.
Richard Dickson’s appointment as the new CEO of Gap marks a pivotal moment for the struggling company. Through his critical analysis and insights, Dickson has highlighted the need for change, clarity, and a renewed focus on Gap’s exceptional products. By tapping into the company’s origin story, fostering creativity, and encouraging risk-taking, Gap has the potential to regain its status as an industry leader. As the journey of transformation unfolds, it is crucial for Gap and its community to embrace the challenges ahead with open minds and a commitment to reinvention.