"We believe Samsonite is already the market leader for luggage that seasoned travellers are familiar with, but just banking on this is not a comprehensive long-term strategy," May Szeto, Samsonite's senior marketing manager in Hong Kong, told Campaign Asia-Pacific. Step by step, we want to expand our portfolio. Business briefcases were the first move. Now it's casual bags."
The Samsonite Red sub-brand has always been popular among Korean youths and was introduced to the Hong Kong market two years ago into stores belonging to the parent brand. Sales constituted only a "single-digit percentage" of overall numbers.
The first dedicated Samsonite Red store was offically launched at the Miramar Shopping Centre in Tsim Sha Tsui on 8 February this year, aiming at "fashion-geeks"—mainly teenagers to youths in their early-20s.
Song is known for his "charming image likened to pure sunshine". His youth (he's 28) and stylish appearance demonstrate the DNA of the sub-brand and build a strong association with the target audience, Szeto said.
In Korea, the sub-brand recorded a "dramatic" boost in sales since the launch of Song’s advertisements in February. The Newyorker and Packers collections showcased were sold out within one month, according to the company.
To support the Samsonite Red store in Hong Kong, an integrated campaign was launched for the first time in the city, involving both online and offline activities, Szeto said.
Since April, Song has been featured in outdoor print advertisements and a TV commercial carrying a red backpack from the sub-brand's Packers collection.
The rounder design is more acceptable to Hong Kongers, said Szeto. Boxy shapes like the Newyorker collection have been slower to take off among local youths, but an exception is the Wax tote bag that is fast catching on even among males.
To sustain the level of mass awareness from the first phase of the campaign, a Facebook game is being used to engage the younger crowd and generate noise. Users have to 'like' the Samsonite page before playing a card-matching game to earn points. The player with the highest score on 5 June will win a free trip to Seoul and limited-edition t-shirts featuring the Korean celebrity. As of today, the number of Facebook fans increased by 65 per cent (2,500) in 14 days, which is "compelling", said Szeto.
In addition, brand activation was rolled out on 25-28 April as well as 4-5 May to "boost fervor to another level". Flash mobs (see video below) were staged in high-traffic areas: Causeway Bay, Mongkok, and Tsim Sha Tsui where a team of three 'Red men' danced on the streets and recruited the public to participate in the Facebook game.
Szeto told Campaign Asia-Pacific that the firm aims to at least double the sales of the Samsonite Red line by June due to these efforts.