Can an upstart clothing company take on the big boys? From afar, i think Bonobos does a lot of things exactly right. About 1 year ago, I read about bonobos in either the nyt or wsj (i forget which) and I was immediately jealous of their business – men’s pants. Standard pair below:
My little brother, an amazing trend spotter since before his voice cracked, spoke to me about the opportunity of mens pants years ago. Dockers – not cool. Gap – not dressy. Brooks Brothers – bad fit. And, so on. As for options, are khaki and navy our only choices?
The Bonobos brand has been built and continues to exist entirely online. Presumably, this modern approach to a haberdashery gives them tremendous ability to focus on the most important piece of a consumer business – the consumer. Let’s face it, this is where product development begins. And, judging from the conversation in traditional and social media they are constantly aware of exactly who their audience is (great video here – http://bit.ly/h867Ky).
Like any ecommerce company, they are certainly using omniture or some other analytics tool to refine their cart and improve conversion. But, they are likely using the same tools to inform new product decisions. Sure, this isn’t new. But, with a clothing business that exists entirely online there is less noise coming from the wrong channels (i.e. execs and buyers with loud voices who are trying to satisfy the consumer with instinct). And, when data informs opinions, instinct can be vetted, challenged or proven worth while.
Below is a fun pair of trousers. A novelty, yes… But also something that compels conversation. I think this is smart stuff. To top it off, the SKU is called the “Drunken Uncle Pants” to make sure the conversation goes way past the played out “Nice Pants” tagline.
To give credit where credit is due Levis is one of my all time favorite brands. And, I was awed as a kid when Dockers once did this:
From NYT in 1995 – “In a new advertising campaign promoting Dockers brand pants, Levi Strauss hung khakis usually priced up to $55 under plastic shields in 40 Manhattan bus shelters. Any New Yorker might expect that covetous vandals would pry open or shatter the shields and make off with the pants. Levi Strauss expected it, too: When the pants were stolen, an outline of them would remain, along with a message: “Apparently they were very nice pants.”
From a social media perspective, Bonobos does plenty of photo contests and gives referral code. Save $50 (even in philadelphia, that’s fifty bucks) on your first order here – http://bit.ly/ifNE2v A partnership with FEED demonstrates their understanding of cause-based marketing and its effect on purchase and brand building. Over the course of the past 18 months or so, Bonobos has added shirts, shoes, outerwear, accessories & suits to their line up.
Check em out… bonobos.com