On 22nd of November 2018, John brought us to visit Timberland in HighCross and we had a chance to speak to the manager that eventually landed an opportunity for those who are interested to craft a social media campaign for Seventy Three in solving the franchise’s main challenges, which I named after “social media identity issues”.
Well, before going into the topic, I would love to share and highlight something I find really interesting during the conversation I had with the manager.
I noticed other tenants in HighCross such as Sole Traders and JD Sports are also selling Timberland shoes collection, some with higher discounts or better promotions than the Timberland franchise – which got me wondering if these retailers will be considered as Timberland’s competitor, from a marketing point of view.
Surprisingly, the manager answered “No” without hesitation. He truly believed in the brand loyalty possessed by the real Timberland fans who go after the brand values instead of prices; who appreciate the exclusivity of owning a Timberland paper bag that also speak for “authenticity” and “quality” of the Timberland products they bought. He added that this in a way helped him to narrow the market, target the right consumers and stay focused to engage with them. And international Chinese students tend to be the most potential and biggest customer group in their HighCross franchise, which is totally understandable – considering the number of this population pursuing their tertiary education in Leicester.
What came into my mind after the conversation was the recent controversial Nike campaign which made Colin Kaepernick, the outed NFL Quaterback who knelt during the national anthem to protest against police brutality, the face of its “Just Do It” 30-anniversary campaign.
Nike’s shares fell after the release of the new campaign advertisement starring Kaepernick in September 2, and #NikeBoycott was trending on Twitter with videos and pictures burning Nike products flooded the social media, alongside pledges to never buy Nike products again. It came to light that Nike had not dropped the star from their books despite the controversies – they even aired the advert at half time in the first game of this year’s NFL season.
So, why do Nike do so?
Two words. Target. Demographic. – Smart Insights wrote.
The 3.9% drops in shares mean nothing to the sportwear giant when Nike’s online sales grew 31% from Sunday through Tuesday of Labour Day weekend this year, proving the bold move is indeed a correct move. That’s notably better than last year’s 17% seasonal increase, as reported by Fortune.
Well, Nike is not being controversial for controversy sake. As Kaepernick stood up for his beliefs in fighting against racially charged police brutality – the not-so-forefrontal societal problem in US – Nike chose to stand with the star as the brand believes the younger generation who are far more progressive knows which side to go for.
And so, Nike dropped the vote from baby boomer, but gain more from the younger age groups – the population that will be purchasing for longer into the future. This simply means, Nike is looking at the next 40 years of brand loyalty, and they have, undoubtedly, successfully created perfect ties with their foreseen target demographic.
Coming back to our topic, the reason for me to raise Nike campaign is because I saw the similar concept behind Nike campaign with what the manager told me. The franchise knows exactly about its target audience and demographic, which is often crowned as the top challenge facing franchises.
So, the next step after figuring out the targeted market?
Social media identity.
Little do people know, Timberland in HighCross Leicester is a franchise owned by Seventy Three, the official retail partner for Timberland and The North Face.
When users need to find out more about Timberland at High Cross website, the users will be re-directed to official Timberland webpage instead of Seventy Three website. Same thing happened to other franchises owned by Seventy Three such as Intu Merry Hill as you can see in my short demonstration video below.
Even in Timberland website, it shows both the store name and operator as Timberland ® instead of Seventy Three. Also, none of the Timberland social media mentioned about Seventy Three as its official partner – other than Seventy Three self-claimed in its website.
Researching about the relationship between franchisors and franchisees have me realised the challenges that franchise face and how franchise marketing is one of the toughest nuts to crack in the online marketing world, mainly because what franchisors (in this case, Timberland, or VF Corporation that owns Timberland) want is different from what Franchisees (Seventy Three) want.
The business nature of Seventy Three has further complicated the situation as Seventy Three has Timberland franchise stores across UK. At the same time, the company has launched their own merchant stores too.
Well, I created an infographic mind map to help myself (and hopefully, you) to better understand what I have figured out.
Following this mind map, and to solve Seventy Three social media identity problem through localised franchise marketing, I struggle between: to open a “Timberland Leicester” account? Or to continue with Seventy Three social media account?
Well, opening a Timberland Leicester account means to also create other social media accounts for Seventy Three franchises, which will not only decentralise the online marketing focus of Seventy Three, but also helps nothing on establishing Seventy Three as a brand of its own.
If we continue with Seventy Three existing social media, which is not “Leicester-centric”, it makes us harder to generate localised content to only promote Timberland in HighCross Leicester. Also, the social media layout has to be re-organised, especially Instagram, to convey the brand identity of Seventy Three, given my first impression while browsing through their social media – a “pirated’ account of Timberland? (Well, perhaps I became so sceptical after coming across a lot of news about Chinese artists’ fake Instagram accounts that not only fans, but even other artists in the same industry thought that was an official account.)
Lacking in orginal content and therefore, no brand personality pumped into Seventy Three social media(s).
Well, with the trail of thoughts, I was thinking, why not approaching the issue in a way that it is to solve social media identity issue of Seventy Three as a brand, rather than limiting our views solely on Timberland in HighCross Leicester?
Viewing from this macro-perspective, Seventy Three social media could be used by the retail team in different areas to promote their own localised content.
But firstly, it is utmost important for Seventy Three to collaborate with Timberland (or VF Corporation) in coming out with a social media marketing plan that send out Timberland’s brand message, at the same time, recognising the presence of Seventy Three and allowing the retailer to inject its own brand personalities into online content.
On the other hand, Seventy Three has to make initiatives in coordinating with respective shopping malls operators to include Seventy Three as the official retail partner for Timberland as you can see from the mock-up below.
In terms of localised content in each retail store, Seventy Three could opt to combine in-store experiences with social media and drive local engagement – which aligns with Timberland’s vision in retail innovation, following its “flex retail” pop-up stores and new experiential concept store called TreeLab.
I noticed that Seventy Three has created mixed-reality in store for customer to gain unique experiences in styling #FlyRoam series.
Initiatives like this mark the best opportunity to create localised content! For instance, Seventy Three could install these virtual reality technology in few franchises, get customers to post photos of them experiencing the new tech on social media by tagging Seventy Three and hashtag the franchise store they were at, e.g. #TimberlandHighCross.
Seventy Three then has to repost or share the customer’s postings – which could turn into a competition where the photos with highest likes will get some prizes. At the same time, this could be internal team building activity where the most mentioned store in hashtags will be entitled to win certain award too!
Well, these are some basic thoughts of mine that could be an inspiration for those looking at creating a social media campaign for Seventy Three in Component C.
I guess the most important thing is still, to establish a mutual understanding with VF Corporation in terms of online content and marketing efforts to ensure it does not violate the partnership agreement between both parties. 🙂