Samsoniteās general manager of Hong Kong Thomas Lui talks about the āchangesā of the brand ā from products to the customer experience to its marketing approach ā which has led to the growth of sales in Hong Kong.
As the worldās largest luggage maker, Samsonite has been around for more than a century. While some may think the brand is getting āoldā, 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 stateās savvy business travellers by highlighting the productās modern minimalist aesthetics design, while featuring Samsoniteās signature durable and innovative AeroĀTracā¢ suspension wheel technology.
As part of the campaign, it launched a pop-Āup 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 groupās strategy to expand its direct-Āto-Āconsumer 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 customerĀ-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.
āWe used to adopt a passive approach ā when the customers come in, we serve them. But now we proactively talk to the customers to generate demand,ā he says.
He says the brand plans to invest in customer relationship management (CRM) to explore how to properly connect with customers.
āAs an international brand, we are a bit late to invest in CRM. But it is better late than never. We are catching up.ā
The brand was also quick to identify changing consumer needs and started producing luggage that was durable, yet light. Its Cosmolite series, which features CurvĀ® materials, is the top-Āseller.
To bolster its customer outreach, the brand leverages on a balanced mix of integrated marketing communications efforts.
āIt 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.ā
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-Ācreate limited edition products, Lui believes this kind of collaboration is only a oneĀ-off salesĀ-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 tradeĀ-in programme. Customers traded in their preĀ-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 (ēčæŖč©©), founder of 100Most Roy Tsui (ęę„ę¦), and CEO of Toast Communications Tsui Yuen(å¾ē·£), to share their personal stories related to travel.
āIn the past, we used to do the tradeĀ-in for the sake of doing it, without any marketing angle. We are amazed that the results of this yearās campaign with The Salvation Army were very good,ā he says. āIt was unexpected that there was such a high demand for luggage among the lower income groups.ā
He says this yearās programme boosted growth by 30% compared with the 2017 tradeĀin.
In the face of rising competition from companies such as RIMOWA, Samsonite has managed to perform well. According to the groupās 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 groupās entire brand portfolio grew 14.4 % year on year, behind Latin Americaās 17%, but ahead of Europeās 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-Ātravel products such as a backpack and travel accessories.
āPeople always think we are a luggage company. But we are more than that. We are delivering travel solutions to customers.ā He says Samsoniteās backpack is well-Āloved by customers.
Since providing a seamless online-Āto-Āoffline shopping experience is the trend, Samsonite will open a concept store which looks to be an omni-Āchannel retail platform.
Customers will be able to access the brandās full e-Ācommerce catalogue through the in-Āstore 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.