direct-to-consumer brands

Monos Tries On Out-Of-Home

Monos, the boot-strapped D2C luggage brand, wants new ways to stand out from the roller-bag crowd. The Vancouver-based company, with a reported $100 million in annual sales, is winning share from such competitors as Away, July and Beis. As the company looks to break into non-digital marketing, out-of-home plays is a key role, running in airports and upscale areas in New York and Los Angeles. Stephanie Pereira, director of integrated marketing, tells Marketing Daily more about the strategy.

Note: Interview has been edited for space and clarity.

Marketing Daily: Who are Monos’ primary targets?

Stephanie Pereira: We have a core customer in the 25- to 34-year-old range. But we think more about the qualities that connect them, their values and beliefs about life, travel and the brands they associate themselves with. We’re a brand for people who invest in tastefully designed products that make travel easier and more beautiful. They are people who value high-quality, aesthetic simplicity. We skew slightly more female. We set ourselves apart with quality, not just in our products but also in our photography and visual identity.



Marketing Daily: What kind of travelers are they?

Pereira: We’re for all types of travelers, but most people will typically purchase a carry-on as their first product, along with one of the Metro bags that fits on top. Our Metro bags are designed for everyday use as well. They all have functionality built inside to make travel more seamless [with] the way they fit together and into overhead compartments.

Marketing Daily: That’s good. I am coming to detest the fight for overhead compartment space on every flight.

Pereira: Part of that is we’re seeing more travel post-COVID, and as there have been more stories about lost luggage, people don’t want to check bags.

Marketing Daily: Who do you consider your main competitors? There are companies like Rimowa, all the way down to Amazon Basics.

Pereira: Away and Beis are the most direct in terms of offering a design-forward suitcase at accessible prices. Tumi and Rimowa are in the upper price ranges. We also compete with brands like Samsonite. We think we stand out because of our quality.

Marketing Daily: Quality is difficult to assess, though. You only know you don’t have a quality bag when the handle breaks or the wheels jam when racing across LaGuardia Airport.

Pereira: Our company started in 2018 because the founders felt they could make a better version of the rolling bag. We prioritized designing the parts and pieces that are most important, especially the wheels and the handlebar.

You won't see a lot of bells and whistles. Everything has been designed to be purposeful, making travel much easier, like the placement of pockets and interior design. But to your point, people need to experience the product before they can believe in that quality. We use photography to create that emotional connection and sense of quality. But the product experience is important.

Marketing Daily: What’s the innovation that people don’t realize changed their lives? I couldn’t believe it the first time I felt the miracle of a bag swiveling in all directions.

Pereira: Our handlebar is quite special. It’s at a slightly different angle, which makes it sturdier. Our wheels are designed from scratch, whereas our competitors use off-the-shelf pieces.

Marketing Daily: And where do most people get to experience your brand?

Pereira: We're primarily direct-to-consumer through our website. We have one retail location in Vancouver, and we will be opening another store in Toronto in a few weeks, then New York and several other stores in the U.S. next year. We also have a small wholesale business with Nordstrom in the U.S. 

Marketing Daily: No stores planned for airports?

Pereira: We have had some conversations about pop-ups. Our stores are quite beautiful. The design of the stores is something we're investing a lot of time and effort into, focusing on larger spaces that might be more impactful in cities.

Marketing Daily: Why use out-of-home advertising?

Pereira: To date, we’ve been focused on acquisition channels and reaching people purely through paid social search and influencer marketing. But that is shifting. We have started to look at high-priority moments that go beyond digital. Out-of-home is really our first foray into offline marketing, allowing people to see us as a brand outside of digital.

We are building on that approach in the upcoming months, with more out-of-home, and looking at partnerships, events, community building, and our retail expansion plans. And out-of-home makes sense for us. We can be hyper-local and target areas around the store. And it is a nice opportunity to showcase our beautiful photography in a large format, in a way that’s bigger than people’s phones.

We've also done quite a few campaigns in airports, focusing on peak travel periods in spaces that have higher dwell times, like baggage areas and cafes. Given that we're a relatively new brand, we want to give people an opportunity to take in our visuals.

Marketing Daily: How big a push is this?

Pereira: It’s a very small percentage of overall marketing spend. We're very much in a test-and-learn phase. It is still too early to tell if this channel in isolation will move the needle in any significant way. However, as we look to spend more on brand building offline, we are currently looking for the best ways to measure the impact on brand awareness and brand health. We are starting to look at TV, and did a very small buy last year.

Next story loading loading..