When Carla Dunham joined the luggage brand Away as its CMO in November 2022, the focus became expanding the DTC brand’s marketing efforts through an on-the-pulse strategy.
Leveraging Dunham’s marketing experience spanning Foxtrot, Equinox, Kate Spade and Amazon, Away is now tapping into new audiences. The focus for the brand’s marketing has shifted to using TV strategies, testing AI-integrated marketing and expanding the U.S. retail footprint.
An AI-powered pop-up in Venice, California on the weekend of June 24 promoted its new “Extraordinary Is Out There” campaign. Participants filled out questionnaires to create their ideal AI world and later received a curated postcard showing their ideal destination.
On the podcast, Dunham discussed why it’s important for brands to engage in mobile TV audiences, why choosing strong store associates is especially important for travel goods brands and why functional design is key. According to Dunham, Away is currently focused on expanding its customer insights group and its presence in the U.S.
Below are highlights from the conversation, which have been lightly edited for clarity.
On growing retail during the pandemic
“That commitment to continue driving retail, even during a moment where we weren’t necessarily living in three-dimensional environments outside of our home, just speaks to how passionately we as a brand view our store presence. We’re in this world where digital is so wonderfully optimized, customized and efficient. Yet, we still really want to feel differentiated, we want to feel contact, we want to understand how things work.”
On the importance of customer insights
“The spirit of design is powered by our customer focus. We have a customer insights team that is incredibly robust, considering our size, and they are always out canvassing and getting customer insights around what is the next big idea for everything, from how our zippers should work to where we should put that second handle, to how we want to think about colors. So we use that as part of the product development pipeline to make sure that not only are we pushing innovation, but that we’re also not doing it in an echo chamber.”
“With our Zone One customer insights group, we do everything from one-on-one focus group-type interactions to ongoing surveys that allow us to really pulse-check with them. And it’s not just about the product. It’s also asking: What do they think of our advertising? What do they think of how our website is doing? Are we offering up the right type of assortment as efficiently as possible?”
On revenge travel
“There’s this idea that everybody was so starved for experiences and having that feeling of being transported, that now they’re at this moment where they really want to travel to the hilt, and we’re seeing it in how our customers are shopping with us. Not only do people want to travel, but they also want to shout about their level of travel with hot pink and lime green [luggage]; they want to have it perfectly accessorized.”