Sep 13, 2019 | By Athena Chen
Dec 12, 2017
If you’ve ever tried travelling with tech, then you know how frequently phones, and iPads die, leaving you with no battery to make important calls or look up the route to the hotel. With the rise of a transient Millennial creative class, workers who travel, drop their case off at a co-working space and then head to a meeting, the need for luggage that suits this lifestyle is key. It’s no wonder then that since its launch in February 2016, Away is on track to earn more than $50 million in revenue in 2017. The key to the brand’s success, as we learned from this interview we did with the founders last year, is how important storytelling is to their marketing strategy. Since that interview, the company has launched in the UK, produced a magazine and kickstarted a podcast.
So we caught up with Emma Bates who works as Head of Global Marketing and Operations at Away to find out more about the brand’s content strategy, and how that strategy has helped to sell more than 200,000 suitcases since launching.
How does Away use content (digital and print) to raise brand awareness?
We launched our podcast Airplane Mode and quarterly print magazine, Here because we weren’t seeing the types of stories we thought our audience might be interested in across more traditional outlets. We don’t view ourselves as just a luggage brand—we stand for more seamless, more enjoyable travel, and in the same regard our editorial channels aren’t just about suitcases, but about the spirit of great travel. Both mediums act as another touchpoint for the Away brand by giving context around our broader mission, but they also serve as inspiration to travel and make even the most seemingly out-of-reach experiences feel more accessible.
What was the motivation to print Here magazine quarterly?
We’re seeing more brands move into print magazines, from the Wing in NYC to big active brands like Nike. It seems that small-scale publications work as a great branding tool in our increasingly visual culture. Also travelling is the one place that you are most likely to pick up a magazine to read on the plane.
Here was created to be a voice for travellers by travellers. While Away allows people to travel more seamlessly, Here exists to share the stories of people who do. We’ve been so disruptive in the luggage space, and Here is applying that same sensibility to travel content, providing readers with both beautifully written, in-depth stories and functional tips and information.
How do you use social media to engage your global consumer and showcase user generated content?
Social media is saturated with all kinds of brands, so in order to keep engagement high and provide something that rises above the noise, it’s key to present your community with new and exciting ideas and visuals. For us, that means content that inspires people to travel more while remaining true to our brand ethos.
We work with some amazing people who love our products and, as a result, share their experience through unique content. They help us reach people and areas we might not have the internal bandwidth to target regularly. That said, it’s crucial to partner with influencers that fit our brand identity to be sure that content will be authentic—it’s so easy for a brand community to tell what’s forced or not authentic when it comes to content.
Where are some of the coolest places that consumers have posted their suitcase from?
So tough to narrow it down! I think collectively our customers have been everyone in the world — recently I’ve seen some amazing posts of our bags in Kiso Valley, Whistler, and Marrakech.
How did the idea for these Away themed gift sets come about?
We know it can be really challenging for people to pick the perfect, thoughtful gift for everyone on their list, so we created the Away Gift Sets to make holiday shopping more streamlined for our customers. Each kit was designed with a different traveler in mind, so they’re versatile without being impersonal. Offering different combinations of travel essentials allows our customers to give Away gifts to all the different types of people in their lives, from their wellness guru friend to their tech-y brother. They’re also ideal for storing Away gift cards!
What are your plans for the UK and European retail market? And expanding here?
Right now, we currently ship to the UK, France, Sweden, and Germany, but our customers have been asking for us to ship to more and more locations, so the rest of Europe is definitely top of mind when it comes to our expansion plans. At the end of the day, we’re working to become a global company, and to be able to respond to our customers no matter where they are in the world!
And any cool brand extension plans for 2018?
At Away, our ultimate goal is to be known as a global travel brand—luggage is just the beginning. We know that there’s a lot that can be improved with the current travel experience, and we want to help fix that—for Away to become synonymous with more seamless travel. This past September over Paris Fashion Week, we created a pop-up hotel called Chez Away it was a big success and proved what our team is capable of when we think outside the box, so we are exploring similar opportunities to activate and offer an all encompassing Away travel experience for our community in 2018. We also have several amazing collaborations in the works—stay tuned!
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