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The Resurgence of Heritage Brands – Stanley and Birkenstock Lead the Change

In a world obsessed with the latest trends and fleeting fashions, the resurgence of heritage brands like Stanley and Birkenstock is a curious phenomenon.

These brands, with their long histories and established reputations, are experiencing a surge in popularity, particularly among the younger generations. This unexpected comeback begs the question: what was behind the revival of these seemingly outdated labels?

We take a closer look at some of the marketing strategies that fuelled their remarkable comebacks.

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A legacy of innovation and adaptability

Stanley was founded in 1913 by American inventor William Stanley Jr. It boasts a legacy of innovation in the realm of hot and cold beverage consumption. Stanley Jr.'s groundbreaking creation, the all-steel vacuum bottle, seamlessly merged cutting-edge vacuum insulation technology with the enduring strength of steel, creating an unparalleled ability to keep "warm drinks warm and cold drinks cold", which solidified Stanley's reputation as a brand synonymous with both durability and functionality.

Early in the 20th century, Stanley achieved success by creating sturdy insulated mugs and lunchboxes that appealed heavily to working-class men. Their products, often described as "heavy-duty," resonated with male-dominated industries like construction and factory work. This association was further solidified by traditional marketing strategies like print advertisements and billboards, which primarily targeted male audiences at the time.

Over the past century, the brand has made a conscious effort and recognises the ever-evolving needs and preferences of its customer base. Stanley implemented a large strategic shift in its marketing approach back in 2019, which aimed to connect with a broader audience and encompass a wider range of activities, from daily commutes and coffee shop visits to outdoor excursions. This strategic move acknowledged the diverse ways in which their products were already being utilised and opened doors to previously untapped market segments.

In 2023, Stanley's resurgence gained significant momentum. For the first time in their trading history, Stanley truly embraced digital marketing channels such as social media and influencer marketing, capitalising on cultural trends designed to attract a younger generation.

They took to platforms like TikTok and Instagram, with #StanleyTumbler hashtag receiving over 900 million views on TikTok and showcasing the product's durability and user experiences, leading to organic growth and word-of-mouth marketing.

Stanley partnered with popular figures like country music singer Lainey Wilson, creating limited-edition products that resonated with specific demographics and cultural trends. This helped them stay relevant and connect with a broader audience.

They actively engaged with customers on social media, addressing enquiries and concerns, while also taking advantage of viral moments like the TikTok car fire video, showcasing the product's resilience, and fostering brand loyalty.

They have maintained their core values as a brand, embracing new trends and expanding their product line at the right times. Their willingness as a modern, forward-thinking brand has helped them stay competitive. The brand remains popular and thriving in today’s online marketplace.

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A legacy of comfort and rebellion

A German footwear powerhouse with a rich history dating back to 1774, Birkenstock is renowned for its iconic comfort sandals and other shoes, all featuring their signature contoured cork footbeds. Employing thousands worldwide, the brand has cemented its place in the footwear industry for generations.

Birkenstock first gained widespread popularity in the 1960s, coinciding with the rise of the counterculture movement. Their sandals became emblematic of nonconformity, 'back-to-nature' values, and anti-establishment sentiment. They were readily adopted by the hippie community who embraced their “ugly” aesthetic, and practicality, further solidifying their image as a symbol of rebellion and alternative lifestyles.

In the 1990s the aesthetic of the Birkenstock resonated with the grunge movement who valued them for comfort and individuality over traditional fashion norms. Celebrities like Frances McDormand and Chloë Sevigny further boosted their popularity among fashion-conscious audiences. Fast forward to the 2010s and 2020s, vintage fashion and the "normcore" trend rekindled interest in Birkenstock's classic styles.

Since the early 2020s, their focus as a brand has been on prioritising digital marketing channels such as social media, influencer marketing, and search engine optimisation. These channels offered efficient ways to reach their target audiences, particularly the younger generations, and supported their need to showcase the versatility and style of their products.

With growing consumer awareness of sustainability, Birkenstock continued to emphasise their commitment to sustainable materials and ethical manufacturing in their marketing efforts. This also aligned with the values of the growing segment of their customer base.

They had a rich history of successful collaborations with other brands and personalities which continued into 2023, partnering with relevant brands and individuals who helped them reach new audiences and generate excitement around their products.

They created engaging content that showcased the heritage, craftsmanship, and lifestyle associated with the Birkenstock brand. This involved user-generated content campaigns, short documentaries, or collaborations with artists and creators.

Birkenstock have maintained a loyal following throughout the years and spotted surges of growth during the specific periods identified above. Their resurgence is testament to the enduring power of such a heritage brand and staying true to their core values and timeless designs.

Summary

Brands like Stanley and Birkenstock demonstrate the power of staying true to your brand’s core values while adapting to evolving consumer needs and trends. Through strategic reinvention and adaptability, they've thrived in today's dynamic marketplace.

Are you ready to unlock your brand's potential? Contact us to discover how we can help you achieve similar success.

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