Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Samsonite : Life is a Journey

Brand : Samsonite
Company : CVC Capital Partners
Agency : TBWA
Brand Analysis : 356

A travel from luggage to footwear and watches can be an interesting journey for a brand. Samsonite is on such a journey. The global leader in luggage is on such transformational path from suitcases to a lifestyle travel brand.

Samsonite is a heritage brand with a history of 100 years. In 2010, Samsonite will be celebrating its 100 years of existence. The brand had its origin in 1910 when Jesse Shwayder started manufacturing luggage for travelers. The company was Jesse Shwayder Trunk Manufacturing company. The company was renamed to Samsonite in 1966. According to wikipedia, the brand was named after the biblical character Samson.

Samsonite is the second largest luggage brand in India trailing behind the market leader VIP. Samsonite is known for its premium luggage with major attribute being the strength and sturdiness.
The Indian luggage market is huge with a market size of Rs 2000 crore. But majority of the market is dominated by unbranded local players. The organised luggage market is only Rs 950 crores. VIP has a commanding market share of 60 % in the organized segment and Samsonite is having around 35-40% share.

When Samsonite was launched in India, it took on the fight directly with VIP by making the brand affordable to the Indian consumer. But in 2005, the brand took a major repositioning exercise by positioning the brand as a luxury brand. The repositioning was done using a series of print campaigns in leading magazines. The product portfolio was also rejigged by the inclusion of lot of bold colors and shapes.

The brand even had a campaign featuring the iconic Sir Richard Branson highlighting his choice for Samsonite. The brand has the tagline " Life is a journey ".

Samsonite has a multibrand strategy in the Indian market. It has a very powerful brand which offers affordable luggage solutions called American Tourister. Amercian Tourister is also an international brand which was acquired by Samsonite in 1993

American Tourister is famous worldwide as a study brand. Its famous among advertising fraternity for its iconic advertising of 1970.
Watch the iconic ad of American Tourister here : American Tourister

Samsonite also ventured into premium luxury luggage market in 2006 with its brand Samsonite Black Label. Black Label is a designer type series aimed at the luxury segment. The brand is priced above Rs 20,000.

The multi-brand strategy adopted by Samsonite is also an example of targeting different through different brands.

Samsonite Black Label : Targeting the elite travelers . The price range is above Rs 20,000
Samsonite Range : Targeting premium travelers . The price range is Rs 5000-20,000
American Tourister : Rs 1,000 - Rs 20000

In 2007 the brand did something unthinkable. It extended itself to marketing shoes.. Can you believe it ?
Samsonite shoes !!!!!!

When I first saw the print ad for Samsonite Shoes in a leading business magazine, I nearly fainted. I first thought it was crazy for a luggage brand to extend itself into shoes .
I never understood the connection between shoes and luggage in the first place ( may be I am not smart enough ! ).

Then came the logic. Samsonite is transforming itself from a luggage maker to a marketer of lifestyle products associated with travel. Now I get the connection.
The brand has expanded its scope to cover all products that are associated with travel. Hence we are going to see Samsonite watches , Samsonite Eyegear in the near future. This is the global strategy adopted by Samsonite across the markets.

I am not going to predict the outcome of this brand extension ( brand dilution ? ) . But does it make sense for a luggage maker to venture into shoes marketing and then making watches ?

According to reports Samsonite shoes will retail at prices above Rs 5000. So typically it will be competing with the major brands like Florsheim, Hush Puppies and the like.
Can a brand assume that if it is successful in a travel related product, it can succeed in marketing all products that have connection to travel ?

Take the case of watches. According to reports , Samsonite is planning watches that will automatically adjust to different timezones so a traveler need not correct his watch. But my question is whether a frequent flier choose an Omega , Cartier or a Samsonite watch ?

Marketing is a domain where there are no rules. If Apple can succeed in making ipod and then replicate their success with iphone then why not Samsonite ?

I have no answers... what do you think ? Will Samsonite taste success in its latest repositioning ?

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