Case Study: Timberland Empowers Local Retailers with Branded Content
Revenue: $1.8 billion in 2014
Bottom Line: Brands can promote themselves at the local level by providing independent retailers with branded lifestyle content for social media.
Timberland has become a fashion powerhouse, and one of the most instantly-recognizable footwear and apparel brands in the world, with millions of fans across social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Its products are sold through independent retailers, athletic specialty stores, department stores, Timberland’s own retail locations, and online, but many of the independent retailers Timberland relies on to generate sales have limited means to market products through digital channels.
“We know that our local retailers are the best way to engage and influence consumers,” says Frank Hwang, Timberland’s senior manager, digital and paid media. “We always want to be seen as providing value and service, while giving great exposure to the brand in a premium way.”
One of the ways that Timberland works with local retailers is by providing those merchants with product storytelling and brand lifestyle content for their digital and social media channels. Timberland has been working with Promoboxx, a hyperlocal marketing platform that connects brands and local retailers, for three years. Over that time, they’ve put together more than 120 campaigns, from influencer-led product launches to brand campaign launches like “Made for the Modern Trail.” Many of the campaigns Timberland has run with Promoboxx were developed with the goal of amplifying Timberland’s brand content through specialty retailers and engaging outdoor consumers through digital channels.
“We have had a lot of success promoting our limited releases through our independent retailers. Within the past year, Timberland has successfully launched five limited release campaigns with the help of Promoboxx,” Hwang says.
Hwang credits unique content, in the form of both organic and paid social media posts, for encouraging strong dealer participation. Local retailers are more likely to promote content when they feel like it’s something their own customers will grab onto and when that content is being published on channels that their customers are comfortable using — namely, social media and mobile.
“We used to talk that our strategy was ‘digital at the core.’ Over the last few years, we’ve found that we have to segment that even further. It’s not just about one device or one channel, but it’s about the consumer journey,” Hwang says. “We’re hyper-focused on our target consumer’s journey from their first experience with our brand, all the way to a conversion opportunity. Smartphones are a critical part of that journey, not just at the beginning, but across that whole path.”
One example of this evolution of strategy is in how Timberland’s senior executives now engage in conversations with the company’s marketing team around things like user generated content and emerging platforms. With Millenials making up the largest population of outdoor consumers, representing around 40% of the market, Hwang says brands like Timberland have to start thinking about how they can take advantage of social media channels or they risk being left behind.
As Timberland’s local strategy evolves, Hwang hopes to see the brand’s marketing continue to mix some larger, national programs — like traditional paid advertising or print and digital banner ads — with hyperlocal tactics, like experiential and social media.
“We always want to provide value to our wholesale retailers and that takes many different forms,” Hwang says. “With the increased appetite of consumers looking for content, we want to make sure our partners get what they need and want to drive business.”
Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.