Diesel’s innovative and playful marketing approach stands as testament to the spirit behind its founder’s personal motto ‘Only the Brave’. The Future of Luxury had the pleasure of talking to Scott Morrison, Marketing and Commercial Director of Diesel Uk to find out how this creative spirit lies at the heart of the brand’s DNA.
How has the customer purchasing journey changed over recent years and how does the Diesel approach reflect these changes?
The consumer now doesn’t fit into one specific journey. According to the old model, once a customer came through the door there was a linear approach as to how you sold to them. Once you understood their behaviour it was easy to get people to buy.
That thinking was probably appropriate 5 or 10 years ago and was coupled with a very linear approach to communications and media, particularly in the fashion world. At Diesel, we say there isn’t really a logical consumer journey anymore and concentrating on a linear journey leads to a gimmicky approach because all you’re looking at is how to entertain using technology instead of really understanding consumer behaviour.
A customer might visit your store 3 or 4 times and if they don’t buy anything, according to the old linear measure, you’ve failed. The reality, however, is that they might be visiting your store for any number of reasons; to compare prices, try something on or to touch a product they’ve seen online.
At Diesel we believe that there’s a consumer adventure. Retail is just one way in which people engage with a brand, there are lots of other ways – the skill is finding out which ones are the most important for you.
How has this approach influenced the way Diesel interacts with its customers?
We liken it to a pinball machine with the ball being the consumer who engages with your brand. The skill of the brand is to make sure that once the lever is pulled the consumer is ‘hitting’ something that gets them more and more engaged.
At Diesel for example, content is a key leader for us so telling product stories is an important part of our pinball machine. The key is to keep the consumer engaged while gathering data, understanding and knowledge so that each time the consumer ‘pulls the lever’ you know what messaging to give them.
By understanding this process you’re helping them to stay engaged and excited but also to find what they’re looking for from the brand – which isn’t always to buy. Sometimes people just want to be close to the brand, everyone has their part to play because they then become advocates for the brand.
What would you consider the most innovative digital campaigns that Diesel has been involved in?
The power of this brand is to make people the best they can be. The DNA of Diesel is finding the passion of people who do things differently and then helping them do that.
When we do that in our communication that’s when we shout the loudest and for me there are two examples of this. The first, The Diesel Island, won a Draper’s initiative of the year award in 2011. The idea behind it was to create an island with a community of people who shared the same values as Diesel; we were looking for brave, passionate people who like to do things differently. We put on a series of free lectures, parties, hands-on and interactive events that were all about making people better. At the end of it all we had a Diesel island! We picked winners from those that had engaged the most and took them out to Ibiza.
Our current project, Studio Africa is an incredible collaboration with fashion denim brand Edun which again shows the power of the Diesel brand in making a difference. Renzo (Rosso, Diesel’s founder and CEO) as part of his ongoing passion for Africa was keen to create an initiative that focused on trade rather than aid. In the spirit of making people the best they can be, the aim is to use Diesel as a platform to help African artists and entrepreneurs and celebrate the power of African creativity.
We’re working with some of the best young talent from all over Africa – actors, artists, musicians and giving them the platform to become the best they can be. We kicked it off with an exhibition at Paris Fashion Week and went on to open a pop-up restaurant in our Regent Street store, we ran an African radio station, hosted film nights, basically everything we could to celebrate this amazing talent.
Now that there’s a consensus amongst premium and luxury brands as to the merit of Social Media, the debate has moved on to its worth based on ROI – what are your thoughts? Does ROI even need to be measured financially?
Everyone has some degree of ROI but sometimes, the return in investment isn’t always hard cash. This is one of the biggest quandaries for those looking at Facebook to generate revenue. Facebook itself is a complex set of algorithms and human beings use it for all sorts of reasons, mostly to share information and recommendations. These actions might subsequently reinforce a reason to buy but I don’t think that people necessarily go on social networks in order to buy.
ROI in terms of engagement is incredibly important to all brands. What’s also important is being brave enough to invest money knowing you might not see any immediate direct return. Long-term, however, all these components feed through to the bottom line.
Social Media have in turn spawned ‘Big Data’ which relates to the question of ROI, many would say this is a far more valuable area to concentrate on, what’s your take?
We’re investing a lot in managing and understanding our data, but not in an intrusive way. I believe that data and data management is a two-way transactional relationship, it’s not simply about giving discounts in return for details because this risks ruining the brand. At Diesel we work on a system of engaging, rewarding and exciting customers.
There’s a lot we do that doesn’t get opened up to all of our customers. We find that when you reward consumers they love getting involved; engagement grows as does their passion for the brand. The ROI might not be immediately apparent but in the long-term you’re generating advocacy and passion.
Are there any trends that you think will be increasingly important in ecommerce?
Understand more. Collect less and, instead, spend time understanding what you’ve already got. Despite the clamour to collect increasing amounts of data, I’m still not convinced that brands know how to use it effectively yet, I’m not sure the analytics have caught up.
If there was a ratio between data collection, understanding and analysis I’m sure it would be hugely unbalanced. We’re also seeing a trend of people moving towards the niche in an effort to do something original. This move from big to small is something I think will ultimately happen with data too, rather than talking about big data we’ll be focusing on small, bespoke data.