Julius Marlow steps into the future

Julius Marlow may be an 86-year-old homegrown business, but the brand has recently kicked off a series of exciting new initiatives to refresh and renew.

One of the oldest footwear brands in the country along with RM Williams, a major aim for the brand has been to share its little-known history with consumers, which is reflected in its latest campaign featuring local Melbournians.

When shoemaker Julius Marlow founded the business in Collingwood in 1933, he realised that for the average man, it was either too expensive or too difficult to access quality footwear.

“Julius Marlow was about bringing men’s footwear to the masses but with a quality and value proposition that had never existed before. If you track the history through 90 years, there’s clear evidence of that continuing through the narrative through technical disruption,” marketing manager Nick McCabe told Inside Retail Weekly.

So to bring back the brand’s focus to its diverse and entrepreneurial Melbourne roots, its recent video campaign showcases creatives and business owners from all walks of life, including a tattoo artist, a marriage celebrant and two dancers and filmmakers. And instead of paying the ambassadors talent fees, Julius Marlow made donations to local charities of their choice.

An intimate conversation

Until now, Julius Marlow has been almost 100 per cent wholesale, but the brand has started putting more resources into online retail, giving it the opportunity to directly communicate on a more intimate level with customers. 


“Our recent growth and ongoing scalability in the e-commerce space will materialise through thinking with a retail mindset rather than a traditional wholesale mindset. The clear difference is that everything we do is about forming a more intimate relationship with the end consumer,” explained brand manager Craig Wissler. 

“We start that conversation with rich content that is highly engaging and highly relevant. We then build a meaningful relationship through continuing the conversation, guiding tailored content that builds loyalty.”

After a “solid” financial year, the business has also enjoyed a 30 per cent uplift in online, which currently makes up around 10 per cent of total sales, said Wissler. That contribution from online has doubled in the last 18 months, he said.

The Julius Marlow website has recently undergone a design refresh, but in the next financial year, plans are under way for it to undergo “a big overhaul”. 

“Any true brand needs a direct line of sight to the consumer, and the digital space allows us to have those two-way customer journey interactions,” said Wissler. “For a brand to continue to grow and be relevant, the digital space provides an incredible platform for us to stay intimately connected to the consumer, not only in terms of providing solutions, but to guide customers through considerations around footwear and how to style parts of their wardrobe.” 

Ready for the right opportunity

As for the long-term future, bricks-and-mortar stores are definitely on the horizon for Julius Marlow, which would offer customers the opportunity to fully immerse itself within the brand.

“I think it’s a consideration as part of our ongoing three-year plan – the speed in which we execute will be governed by us seizing the right opportunity,” said Wissler. “It’s about understanding the right location at the right time, aligning to where we can accelerate the brand’s visibility. We’re not going to just lobby the brand through a whole lot of different shopping centres trying to find space at any opportunity. We want to be considered when we make it happen. There is a solid business plan around what that looks like, and we’re poised to pull the lever when the opportunity finds itself,” he said.

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