What can you learn from brands you’ve never heard of?
It is all too easy to focus on global brands and familiar national brands in our home market as case studies for innovation or best practice. However, numerous successful brands around the world are (so far) only well-known in their local markets. Analysing how and why these companies are prospering, can teach other firms looking to expand into new territories how to make the most of the opportunity. During the recent SheerLuxe conference in London, we discussed examples of what you can learn from brands you’ve never heard of, with a range of luxury brands.
Before the event, we asked a selection of Oban International’s 450+ LIMEs (Local In-Market Experts) across more than 80 countries worldwide to tell us about a brand in their markets they felt was blazing an online trail.
Marie in France told us about men’s fashion and style website Bonne Gueule. Bonne Gueule was founded in 2007 as a blog and has steadfastly maintained an editorial-first approach to build a loyal and highly engaged community. Benoît Wojtenka and Geoffrey Bruyère, the site’s founders, initially just wanted to share their views about fashion. In doing so, they have created the reference point for men’s style and fashion in France.
The blog had been going for five years before they introduced a commercial element. Bonne Gueule now has three bricks and mortar stores selling their own products, alongside other selected brands and they enter into a few carefully chosen brand collaborations, but the website continues to be 100% independent with no brands having access to the site and no advertising. The site continues to treat all brands equally and does not promote its own products over others reviewed on the site.
The Bonne Guele name and reputation has been built organically over time, and its now well established and desirable brand means that the cost of customer acquisition is low, allowing Bonne Gueule to offer quality pieces at competitive prices for luxury fashion.
Alessia in Italy explained the success of Swiss-based jeweller, Edenly. Ten years ago, Edenly was a pioneer in the online sale of gold and diamonds. Today, it is a European jewellery brand selling to customers in several markets, offering customised wedding and engagement jewellery. The company made a step change in its business model launching its online platform Create – a tool which lets the customer design a bespoke wedding ring or engagement ring in a few clicks. The customer works through a list of criteria, each offering several choices until they create the ring they want. 10,000 combinations are possible, depending on the customer’s creativity and their budget. Customers can choose the quality of the gold, the colour, the stone, the shape, the size, the setting band and so on. They can see and assess the evolution of their design step by step on a 3D rendering. Edenly has taken the concept of bespoke jewellery and made it accessible with an intuitive platform and fast delivery.
From Masaharu in Japan, we heard about ZOZOTOWN. This contemporary fashion and streetwear e-commerce company was founded in Japan. ZOZOTOWN had several innovative e-commerce fashion features including specific measurements of the clothes it sold (such as shoulder and sleeve length) to help make sure things fit well and to minimise returns. It has now launched in the US as ‘Start Today’. As part of its launch, the American subsidiary introduced the ZOZOSUIT, a revolutionary body measurement device, which will allow the company to create clothes that are guaranteed to fit, every time. The ZOZOSUIT features patented sensor technology that can capture 15,000 precise measurements unique to each customer. Enabled with Bluetooth, it seamlessly syncs with the ZOZO app and allows customers to upload their measurements from the comfort of their own home. As soon as customers add their measurements, customers can shop the ZOZO collection; men’s and women’s high-quality basics including denim, t-shirts and coats, in the world’s first size-free e-commerce experience. ZOZO has also developed proprietary algorithms that use machine learning to handle its growing database of body data. These algorithms process tens of thousands of measurements in minutes to match customers with ZOZO clothing that will perfectly fit their unique body shape.
These three examples demonstrate the innovative approaches that brands around the world are using to deliver success within specific markets. They show overseas competitors ways to tap into a particular market by incorporating strategies that are working well. E-commerce adaptation is moving at a breakneck pace, and we should keep looking beyond the obvious global brands for inspiration.
These are just a few of the brands that we discussed at the Sheerluxe conference. Please view the whole presentation deck below: