Thanks to Peter Kim for sharing his insights into this segment of branding online. While traditionally a retail business, many luxury goods brands are playing in the interactive space in a big way. What jumped out at me most was Ms. Berman's comment that "Customers are in control." Interesting concept to try and manifest in an interactive world, but these brands are doing it.--K

I was in New York this week for a couple of events related to the Luxury Interactive conference. This morning's keynote address was delivered by Bridget Ryan Berman, CEO of Giorgio Armani. Her message to the audience: "Customers are in control." It's a mantra that most of us have bought into (well, more or less) - but it's one thing to hear from the CEO of a FMCG company and quite surprising to hear this from the CEO of one of the world's preeminent luxury brand portfolios.

Berman's draws on experience from Federated/May, Ralph Lauren, Apple, and Armani:

- Federated: You must be on the retail selling floor. It gives you the opportunity to speak directly to the source - an unfiltered pipeline to consumers.

- Ralph Lauren: A brand that brings experience to life. The intent: to evoke an emotional response to detail, e.g. Ralph designed it or has the piece in his own home. Backbone of customer intimacy and authenticity.

- Apple: Dedicated store space to customer activities, instead of traditional product-focused merchandising. Lets customers experience products for themselves - empowers them, gives them control.

- Armani: Mining global customer CRM; tons of existing data that had never been used. Enhancing the retail experience by focusing on physical space and customer/associate interaction. Aligning brand and customer perception.

Berman says she realizes that the next generation are quickly becoming "power consumers" and has started setting up the company for future success.