How can a brand stay relevant in today’s uncertain times? Global lifestyle brand Ugg and women's performance wear label Dai gave an answer to that question in the ‘The Future of Brands’ panel discussion on Tuesday, at this year’s Shoptalk Europe retail show in London.
While Ugg is a two-billion-dollar company with numerous sales outlets worldwide, Dai is a young brand that just opened its first physical store in March. The duo come from very different starting points, yet agree on one thing: authenticity and cultivating a community is key to building a successful brand.
“For us, the first question is: what does a community mean to us? What does that mean for us and our customers? From there, I think that the first goal can't be revenue driven, it has to be authenticity and purpose,” said Joanna Dai, founder of Dai, during the panel talk led by retail and e-commerce analyst Suzy Davidkhanian.
“It's important to not just market to different groups of people, it's really about cultivating a community and having conversations with communities and being in service to them,” added Carole Diarra, global vice president for marketing at Ugg.
It is therefore inclusivity and sustainability that play a big role in building a community and both brands are taking on various initiatives to drive a positive environmental impact and embrace diversity.
“We have the goal for 60 percent of all of our marketing campaigns to feature people from the BIPOC community, the LGBTQ+ community, as well as various body shapes and various body sizes,” Diarra shared as an example from Ugg. “For us inclusivity and sustainability are really important. So we are making sure that people know that we're so much more than just a boot brand, that we really have a true brand that's connected to the global fashion community.”
Building a modern brand means constantly evolving and tapping into new commerce channels. In our digitalised world, one of the best ways to connect with potential customers is through social media and other digital platforms. “We really see TikTok as this organic forum for us to create additional brand sentiment, creativity and to co-create with our community,” said Diarra, adding that Ugg is using the platform mainly to inspire and boost brand awareness.
During the pandemic, the social media platform even unexpectedly made slippers one of the label's new best-selling products. “We saw on TikTok that people were loving our Fluffita and then, all of a sudden, we saw so many young people being introduced to the brand through an entirely different lens,” Diarra said.
She continued: “Most of the people come to the brand through our iconic boots and here we were with these cool fashion slippers that you could wear inside and outside and it actually launched an entire category of luxury slippers.” Ugg has also started to branch out into other digital formats, initially beginning to explore live streaming and the metaverse, especially for the Asian market.
Performance wear start-up Dai, on the other hand, focuses primarily on Instagram and LinkedIn to reach its target group of powerful businesswomen. “It’s social media but also really focusing on knowing your channels and where you have authentic engagement. Especially as a start-up, we're not going to be on every single channel all the time,” Dai explained.
Connecting with the community and creating experiences around the brand continue to be key elements in maintaining a relevant brand, suggested the two fashion labels at Shoptalk Europe. “I think that's where we have a lot more runway to grow, which is how we redefine the entire ecosystem in which our consumers are experiencing our brand,” Diarra concluded.