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Beyond the Bale : February March 2009
22 CREATING DEMAND ‘INFECTIOUS’ WOOL IS February – March 2009 BEYOND THE BALE CATCHING ON IN CHINA An innovative viral marketing campaign is reinvigorating the Woolmark brand in China The word-of-mouth campaign in China directs people to the Merino Touch mini website. blog to engage users in conversations about Merino, and many other interactive resources. “It’s all about creating a buzz about Merino and then relying on word of mouth to spread that buzz,” Sam says. The online component of the campaign is backed up by business- to-business partner programs with 35 Chinese knitwear brands and department stores, which have already staged Woolmark-branded knitwear displays, in-store promotions and events in five cities. “When people venture into the stores, they see Woolmark garments in the spotlight, and are hopefully encouraged to purchase garments they recognise as being of quality due to the Woolmark brand,” Sam says. The response to the campaign has been positive. To date, AWI has recorded from the website approximately 60,000 clicks on the topic of Merino (15 per cent higher than targeted), almost twice the rate of forecasted participation in blog conversations, and an above-average length of time spent by users on the site. “It works in China because consumers are influenced strongly by word of By Kellie Penfold or the past decade there has been little promotion of the Woolmark brand in China. This has resulted in an annual decline in licensee numbers of 15 per cent, leaving just 500 in a region with more than a billion people and one of the world’s strongest economies. To address this situation, last November AWI launched a cutting- F edge marketing campaign. It was designed to halt any further decline in licensees and to increase sales by five per cent. With large multinational and local brands vying for the Chinese consumer’s dollar – in particular targeting young consumers who are willing to spend big on fashion – advertising costs in traditional media have escalated dramatically and their effectiveness lessened. AWI’s Greater China manager Sam Guthrie says AWI has to think creatively to get the ‘best bang for its buck’ in this environment. The result is a campaign based on ‘viral’ internet marketing – an innovative and cost-efficient technique. It involves sending an entertaining or novel email to a targeted group of recipients who then, based on their level of engagement, pass the message on to their own contacts. This process is repeated exponentially, in the manner of a human virus, and, if successful, one message can reach an extraordinary number of people. In the case of the Woolmark campaign, an email has been sent out to a select group of recipients with the intention of driving online traffic to a mini website (www.merinotouch.com.cn). The site features an internet mouth. They seek advice from their mothers, sisters, neighbours and friends, and they see the internet as an online extension of that community.” The beauty of the campaign, Sam says, is that once the initial, paid part of the campaign winds up, the viral effects or the ‘buzz’ can continue for some time. ? “ It’s all about creating a buzz about Merino and then relying on word of mouth to spread that buzz.” – SAM GUTHRIE, AWI ONE-CHILD OPPORTUNITY The next stage of the Woolmark campaign in China is to create demand for Merino in different consumer markets. For example, in a country with a one-child policy, Sam says that the baby- wear market, with its high price premiums, is a perfect match for Australian Merino. “With people having only one child, they look to their families and online communities for support and advice. Merino is an ideal match, and they are prepared to pay for whatever is best for their baby,” he says. products by Japan’s Nikkei Trendy magazine. Aimed at trend-setting businessmen, the SHOWER SUIT CLEANS UP IN JAPAN T he revolutionary Shower Clean Suit has been named one of the year’s 30 most innovative popular lifestyle magazine, which has a circulation of 232,000, announces each year the ‘hitto shohin’, or ‘hit products’, they believe have influenced Japanese consumers most. Of the items selected for 2008, just three were apparel/textile products, the Shower Clean Suit being one. The magazine praised the unique nature of the suit, and the fact it can be washed without needing detergent or ironing afterwards. Interestingly, Japan’s media is full of successful product reviews at the culmination of each year. This not only allows retailers and manufacturers to better understand the mindset of consumers and the motivation behind their purchasing behaviour, but provides them with valuable publicity and marketing opportunities. This is especially beneficial given the current economic downturn. The Shower Clean Suit joins the Apple iPhone and H&M clothing in the 2008 list of hit products. – ROBIN TAYLOR THE WASHABLE WOOL REVOLUTION The Shower Clean Suit is a joint development between AWI, The Woolmark Company and Konaka & Co Ltd. The product has invigorated the washable wool market and attracted consumers back to the easy- care benefits of wool apparel, says AWI’s regional general manager Asia Pascal Senkoff. The suit has proven to be especially popular with travelling businessmen and job-hunting students. In response to the strong customer demand, Konaka has made Shower Clean Suits a year-round product and plans to vastly increase production for the 2009 spring/summer season. Following the suit’s success, other men’s The Shower Clean Suit was named one of 2008’s hottest and most innovative products in Japan. clothing retailers have introduced ‘washable’ wool products. The end uses for shower-clean technologies will be extended to women’s suits, men’s jackets and trousers, and men’s dress shirts in the next spring/summer season in Japan. Product development is also being carried out in the corporate uniform area with global AWI partners.
Dec 08 - Jan 09
April May 2009