About 700 retailers carry the regular bag collections of Douchebags worldwide - in Europe, Asia and the USA. In addition, there are regular limited editions, which are cheered on in the social media and sold exclusively via the Douchebags webshop. Usually the models are sold out online after a few hours. Only this time not. At the end of October, the new "Brightside Yellow" collection was launched exclusively via 130 stationary dealers. In view of the tense situation in the retail trade, this time it was not the brand that should benefit, but the stationary shops. ISPO.com spoke with Chief Marketing Officer Chris Booth about the campaign.
Douchebags has just launched a new colour line of its best-selling bag models only through stationary stores. Normally you do this online only. Why not this time?
We released a colorway we would never usually do - yellow, a rather bright yellow. So we called it "brightside yellow" because it felt optimistic. The colorway was applied to our entire line of backpacks, luggage, sports equipment bags, and accessories, and released as a limited edition. These limited editions are normally just launched online via social media and sold on our Webshop. Sell-thru takes just a few hours and then they're gone. But this year was different. With the Pandemic affecting all of us, we of course have seen brick and mortar retailers get hit the hardest. So, we decided to dedicate this one to them and launch a 'retailer exclusive'.
How exactly did you design the campaign?
People queue up for our launches and they sell out fast. So, we wanted to imagine what a digital queue looked like for physical stores.
We set up the campaign just like we would usually do - by pre-heating online demand through our key ambassadors and building a digital queue for the product, only this time we removed the buy button on our website and replaced it with a map where you could find the participating retailers. We had over 20,000 signups for it but we only produced 4,000 units, so demand well outpaced supply.
Douchebags is known as a brand that is strong in social commerce and online retailing. So why the solidarity with the stationary trade?
Because we live in an ecosystem and we rely on that ecosystem for our business to exist. There is a lot of talk about the future of retail, the future of ecommerce, and the future of this or that. But why wait for the future when you can actually create the one you want? And to be honest, there are no bad channels, there is only bad strategy. Want to build your brand in a new market? Retail is great at that. Want to make your brand real and your products tangible and try-able? Retail is great at that.
To create the future we want we need to look up a little, and work together instead of against each other.
We wanted to align with retail to offer a different experience than the world expects of us, but we also wanted to communicate our values by making it not about yellow backpacks, but by looking for the brightside together and supporting small businesses.
Do you support the retailers in any other way?
We are. We invite retailers to participate in other launches so they can access energy products in a drop model that gives customers a reason to walk through their doors. We have an employee ambassador program and we just started using ENDVR to offer shop kids bonuses for getting educated about our brand and supporting us at the customer interface. We also like to use retail as an experience space to make our product drops have a tangible element. In September we built an igloo out of 120 white backpacks and put it in NK department store in Stockholm and another one in Sport Anton in Oslo. They ended up getting listed in Trip Advisor as tourist destinations and a customer even built an Ikea-style manual for them.
Do you expect fewer products to be sold because they are less easy to get this time than through the online channel?
No. "Brightside Yellow" was meant for specialty brick and mortar stores, but we allowed these retailers to sell it via their websites, too, so the long tail could access it, too.
What is the reaction of retailers so far?
Incredible. A lot of brands talk about supporting the retailer, but how many brands out there are doing what we are doing? Almost none. So how do you think they felt? The collection sold-in at 100 percent on an invite only basis. We had to allocate.
And when we launched, they all had it in their shop windows. They posted all about it on their social profiles synchronously when we launched it via our channels. They sent the news out to their mailing lists. They even jumped in to all the comments on our social media posts and started talking to customers directly. We all got involved together, and together, the launch was bigger than all of us. It was community-backed retail.
Do you want to change your sales strategy in the future? Do you plan to offer more exclusive collections for the stationary trade in the future?
We run a split wholesale and DTC model, mixing between seasonal collections and high frequency product drops with fast sell-thrus. This will continue, and yes, it probably makes sense to do another retail exclusive in the future.