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Hudson’s Bay marketing campaign in Canada

To increase sales of Merino wool products in Canada, The Woolmark Company last year partnered with iconic luxury retailer Hudson’s Bay to carry out a successful marketing campaign that combined multiple digital and traditional marketing channels. Here we provide an in-depth look at the project, to provide readers with an example of all the elements typical of a collaborative marketing campaign involving The Woolmark Company.

Founded in 1670, iconic Canadian retailer Hudson’s Bay opened its first department store in 1913. It now has 85 brick-and-mortar stores and an e-commerce website, known as The Bay (thebay.com), which is one of the largest premium lifestyle platforms in Canada.

Continuing its approach to collaborate with leading retailers with a strong e-commerce and brick-and-mortar presence, AWI’s marketing arm The Woolmark Company last year partnered with Hudson’s Bay in a successful marketing campaign to promote Merino wool to high-spending consumers in Canada. Canada has the tenth largest economy in the world.

The marketing campaign ran for four months during the peak wool buying season from the beginning of September to the end of December. The campaign objectives were to firstly drive awareness of Merino wool as an essential ingredient for sustainable, luxury fashion; and secondly increase the demand for Merino wool products.

The forever fibre. One life is never enough for Merino wool: it’s the most recycled and reused fibre in the world. Not only is our planet a big fan of its biodegradable super powers, but its circular nature means we never have to live without it.
- Hudson’s Bay website

The Woolmark Company was successful in achieving both campaign objectives. During the four months, the campaign achieved almost 36 million impressions (the number of times the campaign marketing was seen) driving strong awareness for the campaign. A strong average sell through rate of a new Woolmark-certified collection was achieved, with exceptional success in the men’s collection which had an 83% sell through rate. Total sales were A$8.2 million.

The robust campaign included a variety of digital marketing tactics to drive online customers to a Wool Shop on Hudson’s Bay e-commerce website, as well as traditional in-store marketing to increase sales in the company’s stores across Canada.

The Hudson’s Bay creative team undertook a photoshoot of key wool products, creating imagery that was used across all the campaign marketing including digital, social and in-store displays. The imagery was paired with editorial content about the benefits of wool to drive increased customer engagement and purchases.

The forever fibre. One life is never enough for Merino wool: it’s the most recycled and reused fibre in the world. Not only is our planet a big fan of its biodegradable super powers, but its circular nature means we never have to live without it.
- Hudson’s Bay website

Hudson’s Bay’s first Woolmark-certified collection

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As an addition to the marketing campaign, The Woolmark Company and Hudson’s Bay procurement team worked closely to ensure that 30 Hudson’s Bay wool products were certified for fibre content and quality by The Woolmark Company. The products spanned men’s, women’s, and accessories in Hudson’s Bay’s own Hudson North brand.

As a result, the Woolmark logo was attached (eg on a swing tag and/or sewn-in label) to the wool products for customers to see. On thebay.com, the Woolmark-certified Hudson North collection products were tagged online to include the Woolmark logo.

By providing quality assurance to more customers, the Woolmark Licensing Program is helping to support and increase the demand for wool. Nearly 27,000 units in the Woolmark-certified collection were sold.

This was the first time that Hudson’s Bay had become a Woolmark licensee.

Digital elements of the campaign

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Online traffic was driven to the landing page and Wool Shop from online banners, social media and email marketing.

  1. The Bay website landing page and Wool Shop

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The key element of the digital campaign on thebay.com was a dedicated landing page and Wool Shop from which customers could purchase wool products.

Hudson’s Bay and The Woolmark Company worked together to select Merino wool and other high quality wool merchandise to be included in the curated Wool Shop product range. The range included 252 products (men’s, women’s and home) from 44 brands, including the Woolmark-certified Hudson North collection

The landing page and Wool Shop ran for four months from 6 September to 31 December through the busy autumn and holiday seasons.

To generate awareness of wool’s benefits and increase consideration for purchase, editorial messaging about wool’s natural sustainability, quality and performance was included on the landing page. The average dwell time, that is the time that a customer spent looking at the editorial, was more than 2½ longer than the average dwell time for a typical brand page. This lengthy dwell time is likely due to the wool editorial being more informative than other brand pages.

Furthermore, this destination page was the top editorial page on thebay.com during the campaign time period. Of the ten other editorials live on thebay.com during the same time period, the Wool Shop exceeded the average site traffic by more than 50%.

  1. The Bay website banners

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Home page banners: Advertising banners were included on the home page of thebay.com during two weeks of the campaign, one in September and one in October, to highlight the campaign and point customers to the landing page and Wool Shop. Both the home page banners had above average click through rates indicating that customers were very engaged with the messaging and the product.

Run of site banners: There were also two premium ‘run of site’ advertising banners that that were included throughout thebay.com during the whole of the four months of the campaign. These two run of site banners were strategically placed to maximise visibility of the campaign and linked directly the dedicated Wool Shop. Both these banners achieved a significant amount of impressions, about six times the amount of a typical campaign.

Category page banners Advertising banners were also included on the men’s and women’s category pages for two weeks during November.

  1. Social media

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Paid social: A paid media strategy ran throughout the four months. It was focused on driving awareness with an ‘always-on’ Google Display ads campaign. It drove customers to the dedicated landing page and Wool Shop. Not only were the impressions very strong on this tactic, the click through rate was above the benchmark, indicating strong consumer engagement with this campaign. Paid social was the top marketing tactic to drive traffic to the dedicated landing page.

Owned channels: Social media posts on Hudson’s Bay’s own Instagram and Facebook channels helped drive campaign awareness and traffic to thebay.com. The posts, which highlighted the natural benefits of Merino wool, had strongly positive sentiment.

Influencer content: To help ensure the campaign was reaching the right audience with the right message, Hudson’s Bay engaged with three influencers who each posted three videos which focussed on the planet positive and stylish qualities of wool apparel.

  1. Hudson’s Bay email marketing

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To further highlight the campaign and the availability of quality wool products on thebay.com, Hudson’s Bay sent two dedicated emails to its large distribution list of highly-engaged shoppers, linking directly to the Wool Shop to drive purchases of wool products. The first email was sent in September at the launch of the campaign with the second sent at the end of November to re-engage with customers during the peak holiday season. An advertising banner was included on a third Hudson’s Bay email in December.

 

In-store elements of the campaign

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Displays promoting Woolmark-certified wool product at the Hudson’s Bay store in Toronto.

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Displays promoting Woolmark-certified wool product at the Hudson’s Bay store in Toronto.

  1. In-store displays

Hudson’s Bay and The Woolmark Company collaborated to design instore displays for three of its flagship stores in downtown Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal. The displays were on show for five weeks from 25 September to 31 October. It is estimated that more than 400,000 people were exposed to the displays to help drive awareness of the benefits of Merino wool and purchases.

  1. Retail training

While eye-catching and informative in-store displays and swing tickets can influence a consumer’s purchasing decision when in a shop, it is often the knowledge and expertise of the customer-facing retail staff that give customers the guidance and confidence to make the purchase. Consequently, The Woolmark Company provided a customised six-part video/digital training program to Hudson’s Bay’s shop-floor sales staff to educate them about the natural benefits of wool, so they could advise customers more appropriately. The training also addressed topics such as wool care, common customer concerns and understanding the significance of Woolmark certification. More than 7,000 Hudson’s Bay staff completed the training, which is a very strong result.

 

This article appeared in the March 2024 edition of AWI’s Beyond the Bale magazine. Reproduction of the article is encouraged.