How Moleskine Converts Fans (and Retailers) to Brand Ambassadors

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If any brand name seems to be loved by all who come in contact with it, it is Moleskine. This 14-year-old Italian iconic brand became known for a simple notebook. 

But today, writes the company on its website, “the name Moleskine encompasses a family of nomadic objects: notebooks, diaries, journals, bags, writing instruments and reading accessories, dedicated to our mobile identity. Indispensable companions to the creative professions and the imagination of our times: they are intimately tied to the digital world.” Companies with legacy products anxious to hook on to the digital bandwagon could take a lesson from this.

It isn’t just the brand’s positioning that makes it so special — it is the manner in which the company nurtures and interacts with its fiercely loyal fans and retailers.[more]

When it comes to users, Marco Beghin, president of Moleskine America, told the New York Times, “We let our fans speak for themselves. We wanted to create a relay of stories to become the ambassadors, interpreting the message.”

Fans are only too happy to share their stories. They post sketches on Moleskine’s Facebook page, which has attracted almost 90,000 followers, and they make videos such as the one above (which is favorited on Moleskine’s channel) or the one below, demonstrating how much fans love the brand. They also attend special events around the globe organized by Moleskine, such as a recent “sketching event” at Bloomingdale’s in New York. Shoppers could stop and make sketches of a model using Moleskine pencils and notebooks.

While the notebook is the core product, Moleskine has been anything but conservative in expanding its offerings to meet the needs of the digital generation. In April the company introduced a new collection of pens, pencils, bags, computer cases, reading glasses (positioned as “friends to read with”), a USB-rechargeable lamp, and a book/e-reader stand. The collection is rolling out to retailers this summer. But that notebook… well, says Marco Beghin, “This is not a notebook. This is an important concept. This product has always been considered a platform and a culture product. A tool for self-expression.”

Clearly, Moleskine notebook buyers get it — the company sells millions of them each year. And it turns out Moleskine’s products are not just loved by fans, but by retailers too. That’s because Moleskine treats its retail partners the same way it treats its customers — as if each one is special. 

Christine Starito, retail general manager for art supply retailer A.I. Friedman, told the Times, “Moleskine came in and worked very diligently on the visual side of merchandising.” Kevin Harter, VP for fashion direction at Bloomingdale’s, added, “Moleskine did a fantastic job of creating beautifully designed bags, functional cases for your iPod and phone that share the same forward aesthetic as their clever paper offerings.”

Beghin said it is all part of Moleskine’s overall brand strategy. “We work with the strategy of the stores, on how Moleskine can drive traffic,” he said. “Because of the variety, the personalization, the concept, retailers focus on certain aspects.” Of Bloomingdale’s, Beghin said, “They gave us space to showcase the brand. It is the right spot for Moleskine.”

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