Samsonite‚Äôs general manager of Hong Kong Thomas Lui talks about the ‚Äúchanges‚ÄĚ of the brand ‚Äď from products to the customer experience to its marketing approach ‚Äď which has led to the growth of sales in Hong Kong.
As the world‚Äôs largest luggage maker, Samsonite has been around for more than a century. While some may think the brand is getting ‚Äúold‚ÄĚ, it has been making efforts to rejuvenate and refresh its brand image.
In a bid to put a stylish spin on its new evolutionary luggage line Evoa, the brand launched a campaign aiming to capture the attention of the city state‚Äôs savvy business travellers by highlighting the product‚Äôs modern minimalist aesthetics design, while featuring Samsonite‚Äôs signature durable and innovative Aero¬≠Trac‚ĄĘ suspension wheel technology.
As part of the campaign, it launched a pop-¬≠up store for the Evoa line in July which included a leather passport wallet workshop and monogram service to bring a personalised customer experience.
The approach echoes the group‚Äôs strategy to expand its direct-¬≠to-¬≠consumer channel. Thomas Lui says the efforts paid off as the Evoa line broke the top record of sales mix, and gained HK$6.5 million in media value.
He believes being customer¬≠-centric is the key to success for a marketing campaign. The brand emphasises on the interaction between its store staff and customers. The question is how to interact with customers to generate better conversions. He says training for staff on communication with customers is crucial, which the brand started doing last year.
‚ÄúWe used to adopt a passive approach ‚Äď when the customers come in, we serve them. But now we proactively talk to the customers to generate demand,‚ÄĚ he says.
He says the brand plans to invest in customer relationship management (CRM) to explore how to properly connect with customers.
‚ÄúAs an international brand, we are a bit late to invest in CRM. But it is better late than never. We are catching up.‚ÄĚ
The brand was also quick to identify changing consumer needs and started producing luggage that was durable, yet light. Its Cosmolite series, which features Curv¬ģ materials, is the top-¬≠seller.
To bolster its customer outreach, the brand leverages on a balanced mix of integrated marketing communications efforts.
‚ÄúIt is a norm that most of the international brands switch from traditional marketing to digital marketing and social media by engaging KOLs. We need to get into this boat of prevalence.‚ÄĚ
He explains the brand has to reach younger demographics such as the early 30s age group, which is its targeted customers, to understand what kind of products or services they desire.
While many brands are leveraging collaborations with celebrities or other renowned brands to co-¬≠create limited edition products, Lui believes this kind of collaboration is only a one¬≠-off sales¬≠-boosting tactic. You may not see Samsonite using this strategy for the time being.
However, collaboration with charities works wonders for Samsonite. The luggage maker teamed up with The Salvation Army to launch a trade¬≠-in programme. Customers traded in their pre¬≠-loved luggage to Samsonite. That luggage was either given away or resold for less than HK$200 to low income groups.
To amplify the campaign, Samsonite invited several KOLs such as author Daisy Wong (ÁéčŤŅ™Ť©©), founder of 100Most Roy Tsui (śěóśó•śõ¶), and CEO of Toast Communications Tsui Yuen(ŚĺźÁ∑£), to share their personal stories related to travel.
‚ÄúIn the past, we used to do the trade¬≠-in for the sake of doing it, without any marketing angle. We are amazed that the results of this year‚Äôs campaign with The Salvation Army were very good,‚ÄĚ he says. ‚ÄúIt was unexpected that there was such a high demand for luggage among the lower income groups.‚ÄĚ
He says this year‚Äôs programme boosted growth by 30% compared with the 2017 trade¬≠in.
In the face of rising competition from companies such as RIMOWA, Samsonite has managed to perform well. According to the group‚Äôs financial report 2018, Samsonite International lifted sales by 12.9% in the first half of this year to US$1.849 billion.
The Asia sales across the group‚Äôs entire brand portfolio grew 14.4 % year on year, behind Latin America‚Äôs 17%, but ahead of Europe‚Äôs 11.4%. In Hong Kong, net sales increased by 28.3%, driven by net sales of the Tumi, Samsonite and American Tourister brands.
Lui says Samsonite has applied improved systematic merchandise allocation and planning which echoes the sales objective and help sales grow.
The brand not only creates innovative luggage, but has also introduced more non-¬≠travel products such as a backpack and travel accessories.
‚ÄúPeople always think we are a luggage company. But we are more than that. We are delivering travel solutions to customers.‚ÄĚ He says Samsonite‚Äôs backpack is well-¬≠loved by customers.
Since providing a seamless online-¬≠to-¬≠offline shopping experience is the trend, Samsonite will open a concept store which looks to be an omni-¬≠channel retail platform.
Customers will be able to access the brand‚Äôs full e-¬≠commerce catalogue through the in-¬≠store interactive tablet so that they can see and experience a curated collection of thousands of products at the store, breaking the restriction of limited physical space to showcase luggage.