Bonobos wants to take a measured approach to customer acquisition.
CEO Micky Onvural said, as a relatively small brand — it projected $150 million in sales in 2017, when it was acquired by Walmart, and November’s revenue was up 34% from the year prior — Bonobos has no plans to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on advertising — and that’s not a reliable strategy, anyway. (It does spend on paid and organic search, driven by the fact that men are traditionally “needs-based” shoppers.)
“In this next phase, the battle will be won on earned [media],” she said. “Consumers are becoming more savvy. The more organically you can feel a part of their community or tribe, and the content they watch, and what they affiliate with, the better. That’s going to be how brands make it.”
Onvural broke down how the menswear brand, which was acquired by Walmart for $310 million in 2017, is currently connecting with customers and how it plans to keep their attention in the year ahead.
- Standing for something. The company has consistently stood by its missions of breaking gender stereotypes and “making fit happen” for everyone by offering inclusive sizing. “It has an outsize impact, versus a spend,” said Onvural. “When what you believe is known, you also get the earned impressions that your paid impressions spark.”
- Investing in native advertising. Bonobos just renewed its partnership with “Queer Eye,” where its been a featured retailer for several seasons, and it’s signed on for the second season of Adam Grant’s TED podcast WorkLife, based on the work environment. The first season featured Chris Mosier, the fist trans Team USA member, who has been featured in Bonobos marketing since being recommended by a trans Bonobos employee. It was meant to represent the idea that ideas can come from anywhere. In addition, founder Andy Dunn has been featured on NPR’s podcast “How I Built This.” Traditional podcast ads, featuring Bonobos’s value proposition and a new customer promotion, have also worked. (Bonobos also spends on
- Taking a customized approach to influencer marketing. “For men, it’s about who they want to be like, versus who they want to look like,” said Onvural. As a result, the brand’s “influencers” are typically athletes and entrepreneurs versus style stars. For example, it dresses golfer Justin Rose on and off the course. The traditional influencers it does work with are female, as women buying for their sons and significant others make up 40% of menswear sales, said Onvural.
Moving forward, the brand has a goal of creating more organic brand advocates. “How do you turn your loyal customers into megaphones for your brand, not just through influencer programs and referral programs? That’s what we want to figure out,” said Onvural. It also wants to reach new audiences, including younger shoppers, by continuing to expand its product range and extended-size assortment. Finally, expanding its physical footprint continues to be a goal — it now has more than 60 stores, with three already opened this year. — Jill Manoff
5 questions with Jake Kassan, CEO and co-founder of MVMT
MVMT, acquired by Movado last year, has been associated with watches since its launch in 2013, but for the past few years, the brand has been steadily expanding into other categories like sunglasses and jewelry, with the ultimate goal of becoming a full accessories brand. On the eve of the release of MVMT’s latest campaign called Femme Fatale, highlighting its women’s sunglasses line, co-founder Jake Kassan discussed the brand’s expansion plan.
So eyewear is relatively new for you guys, correct?
We’ve been doing eyewear for around for three years or so. We started with watches and then moved into sunglasses, and then jewelry. Last year was our biggest year for sunglasses, and we want to continue to grow that category. Ultimately, we want to be a full watch and accessories brand, not just watches — although watches are still the core of our business.
How did you settle on eyewear as your first big expansion outside of watches?
I think that for us, it was customers’ lack of loyalty for or identity with the eyewear brands out there. There are obviously some big brands that are successful, but I don’t necessarily know what they stand for or anything about them. Seeing that there wasn’t anyone doing what we’ve done for watches in eyewear, it made sense. We also had a lot of customers asking what the next product was so we knew there was demand.
Why did you want to do something other than watches?
The vision was always: What could this brand become? In the early days, we were more worried if we were going to be around next month, the survival of the business. After the first year, and as we saw customers believe in us, we saw there was an opportunity.
Are you primarily a men’s brand today, or how does the women’s side stack up?
For two years, we did strictly men’s, but to date, we are about 50-50 men’s and women’s. We’ve been selling a ton of women’s stuff. Our men’s brand is larger on social media, and we also have a lot of women who buy men’s watches, so it’s a little skewed. MVMT has been historically known for the men’s imagery and campaigns, but our new campaign definitely focuses more on women’s.
How do you think the brand has changed since you started it?
The brand is always growing and evolving. We are trying to think about it from a men’s and women’s perspective. As we come out with more products and categories, we are trying to make sure everything aligns. Doing the same storytelling offline as we do online, whether we do our own stores or shop-in-shops, is about making sure the brand story doesn’t get lost. — Danny Parisi
Timeline: The fall of the Fifth Avenue flagship
Last week, Tommy Hilfiger became the latest fashion company to shutter a Fifth Avenue flagship store. Despite seeing growth (analysts predict the brand’s sales will grow 6% in 2019), the brand said it’s time to focus more on younger, digitally-native customers. Supporting a flagship store on one of Manhattan’s most iconic shopping streets doesn’t factor into that millennial and Gen Z-focused approach.
Tommy Hilfiger is just one of many legacy fashion brands breaking up with Fifth Avenue flagships. In the last few years, companies from Henri Bendel to Gap have announced closures of these massive, multi-story retail spaces. Some blamed pricey rent or declining sales, while others said they’re putting more resources into e-commerce. Here’s a quick look at the timeline of the fashion exodus from Fifth Avenue.
March 2019: Tommy Hilfiger announced plans to close its flagship store, located at 681 Fifth Avenue, in March of this year, despite a relatively strong growth outlook. The brand opened the doors of the four-story location in 2009.
January 31, 2019: After 123 years in business, Henri Bendel announced the closing of all 23 of the brand’s locations, including the Fifth Avenue flagship. Stores stayed open through Jan. 2019. Parent company L Brands shared the news in Sept. 2018. L Brands CEO and chairman Leslie Wexner said at the time it was part of L Brands’ plan to, “improve company profitability and focus on our larger brands that have growth potential.”
January 20, 2019: Gap started off 2019 with a blow. On Jan. 20, the brand closed its flagship store, located at 680 Fifth Ave, after 20 years in that space. While some of Gap’s sister companies including Old Navy and Athlete continue to see strong quarterly results, Gap has been struggling to deliver. Gap Inc. said at the time that, by closing the flagship, the company could focus more on high-performing stores and brands.
January 2, 2019: Just as people were ringing in the New Year, Lord & Taylor said goodbye to its 11-story Fifth Ave flagship. Back in 2017, the real estate was sold to company WeWork for about $850 million. Lord & Taylor first opened its doors back in 1914.
April 2017: Ralph Lauren Corp. closed its 711 Fifth Avenue location to help the brand cut costs and focus more on an e-commerce strategy. While the brand did keep its neighboring Polo Bar Restaurant and several other NYC locations open, Ralph Lauren shared plans to close dozens of other stores as well.
What we’ve covered this week
‘Not sexy but cost-effective’: How Clarks revamped its emails to drive sales
“As we are thinking more holistically about the consumer journey, it’s not just about sending them an email and then another email and another, but rather being more relevant with our data and making it more personalized.”
How Crocs leveraged user-generated content to capitalize on its Gen Z fanbase
“We have defined consumer segments, and our younger ‘explorer’ consumer has played an increasingly important role in shaping our global product and marketing strategies.”
Why skin-care brand Sunday Riley is partnering with United Airlines
“Globalization is [increasing]. Everyone is more connected, and travel is a part of everyone’s life, and that includes our followers, customers and blog readers.” — Katie Richards