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The long-term vision behind Crumpler’s Australian Open pop-up

Iconic Melbourne-based bag brand Crumpler has a long history of supporting Australian athletes. The country’s 2016 Olympic team rolled into Rio de Janeiro carrying Crumpler luggage, and the 2020 team will receive specially-designed suitcases before heading to Tokyo. The brand’s bags have also been given to players and ballkids in the Australian Open for the past few years. So when Crumpler was given the opportunity to open a pop-up store at the event this year, it seemed to be a match made in heaven.

Like the other retailers with pop-ups at the Australian Open – such as Country Road and Toms – Crumpler designed a limited-edition range for the event, which is available to attendees as well as online and in stores nationwide while stocks last.

But unlike most pop-ups, which are necessarily about short-term wins, Crumpler’s pop-up is more of a long-term play to introduce the brand to international tourists at the Australian Open.

“It’s a Melbourne-based event that has a global reach these days. We launched a new range and new logo last year, and we wanted to take the opportunity to showcase this to the world,” Adam Wilkinson, Crumpler CEO, told IR.

Global growth

According to a 2018 statement from Tennis Australia president and chair Jayne Hrdlicka, more than 80,000, or 11 per cent of attendees, at the Australian Open in 2017 were from overseas. The highest numbers were from the US, New Zealand, Japan, UK and China.

This aligns with Crumpler’s recent push into global markets, with a particular focus on Asia and North America.

The company currently operates stores in Singapore and Malaysia and recently started working with distributions partners in China and Taiwan. Wilkinson revealed that Crumpler is in discussions with a leading distributor in Japan that could be finalised in the next six months.

Wilkinson is now turning his focus to the North American market, where the brand currently offers its range of camera bags through the US retail chain B&H Photo and lifestyle, work and travel products through Amazon. Wilkinson said he has already had some initial talks with distributors there and hopes to finalise an agreement and secure placement in key department stores this calendar year.

“We have an online presence [in the US] at this stage, but we want to start facilitating some of the bricks-and-mortars presence more directly,” Wilkinson said.

Key to the brand’s international growth is its marketplace strategy. Crumpler sells on Tmall and JD.com in China, Lazada in Southeast Asia, Zalando in Europe and Amazon in the US.

“We’re a big advocate for growing the brand through marketplaces,” Wilkinson said, explaining that “traditional wholesale, especially bricks-and-mortar is shrinking. We definitely feel that we have less control of our brand in those places when it comes to discounting.”

Content is king

In Australia, Crumpler sells on Amazon and The Iconic and recently signed a deal to sell on Qantas’s loyalty marketplace. Wilkinson said the Qantas platform is especially exciting, since travel – that is, luggage – is the brand’s fastest growing category.

Wilkinson has expanded the company’s online and planning teams to handle the additional work of selling on multiple marketplaces around the world. One of the unexpectedly time-consuming aspects of selling on marketplaces is simply providing the necessary product information and enough imagery to stand from the crowd.

“I think when marketplaces first started, they wanted nice imagery and thorough product descriptions and one or two campaign images. But everything is changing and everyone wants more content,” Wilkinson said.

“We’re working hard to have more video content and multiple campaign shots throughout a season. We could give marketplaces 40 or 50 images, they’re asking for it,” he said.

“The brands that do this well and provide the most content, will flourish.”

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