For this assignment, I have chosen to analyze every aspect of international marketing techniques made by Diesel; an Italian denim brand that has clawed its way to the top. By doing so, we will gain valuable techniques on how to market to an international client base, and what the reader can take away from Diesel's success. Methods of research will be conducted by doing an in-store evaluation. In addition, I will provide valuable information from the in-store handbook that is used to train associates. Last, I will provide valuable online research from credible sources to validate my findings. From a professional perspective, my career goal is to become a part of Diesel's corporate marketing team. I have high hopes that this will not only benefit my career now as a Visual Merchandiser for Diesel, but as a future Visual Merchandising and Marketing Manager for Diesel corporate. From the reader's perspective, I hope that the individual is able to take away valuable marketing methods used by Diesel to benefit him or her for their professional future.
Diesel's Internationally Brave -
An In-Depth Look at International Marketing by Diesel
What do you think of when you see the Diesel logo? Do you think of the type of gasoline and who in their right mind would name their brand after that? Or do you think of an iconic Italian brand with a rich history of breaking boundaries? If you were to ask my father, he would tell you all about his truck and how it only took Diesel when he was in High School; but ask any millennial - they will tell you of a brand that has been around since 1978, and has continued to push the limits of societal norms and boundaries. Diesel's brand is all about being “brave.” I have provided the definition below for your convenience;
Ready to face and endure danger or pain; showing courage. (google.com)
‘Brave' is nothing but an understatement for this iconic brand. Since 1978, Diesel has pushed themselves to be one of the top leaders in the denim industry today. What started out as workwear created by Levi's, has now become a staple fashion piece in the closets of millions.
“When Renzo Rosso arrived in Manhattan to open his first Diesel jeans store, he deliberately picked a spot directly opposite Levi's on Lexington Avenue. "I wanted to show how beautiful our product was, in front of them," says Rosso, a mischievous grin spreading across his tanned, unshaven face.” (O'Connor, 2013).
The tradition of being fearless and brave has been a staple adjective to describe the brand. In all aspects.
A Brief History
Renzo Rosso has humble beginnings, growing up on his parent's farm in Italy. “As a child on his parents' farm in Italy's Po Valley, he was given a rabbit by a schoolmate. He discovered it was pregnant, so instead of handing it to his mother to be added to a pie, he started an impromptu breeding business for pocket money.” (O'Connor, 2013). In his teens, he began making his first pieces of denim - “bell-bottoms, with 16 1/2 inch flares. Soon he was charging his friends a few dollars a pair.” (O'Connor, 2013). By 22, he owned 40% of Moltex, “an Italian Outfit Manufacturing company owned by Adriano Goldschmied, who is now the owner of ‘AG Denim'.” (O'Connor, 2013). This only proves that the founding father and CEO is a natural born leader and businessman.
“Diesel did sell, with hockey-stick revenue growth: $2.8 million in 1985, $10.8 million in 1986 and $25.2 million in 1987.” A brand that started out in 1978 would soon be a million-dollar company within a short span of 7 years. In 2016, the group “OTB” (which stands for ‘Only The Brave') made an impressive $1.580 Billion in revenue which translates to $1,879,773,400 USD, according to ‘uk.fashionnetwork.com' (Galbiati, 2017). However, 2016 was a difficult year for the brand; “But 2016 was a troubled year for Diesel, the group's leading label, whose results were impacted by the strategic decision to reposition the brand in distribution terms...Diesel's revenue was €960 million (about 60% of the group's overall revenue) but the fiscal year closed with a loss for the brand.” (Galbiati, 2017). We can see above, that Diesel is the main source of revenue for this group.
Marketing Across the Globe
It is very important for the brand to be recognized on a global basis. Diesel specifically markets its brand to certain countries to help growth and overall health of the house. “In geographical terms, Japan and the USA remain the group's prime markets. OTB is holding its ground with all its various brands in Europe, and is devoting more and more attention to Asia, and China in particular.” (Galbiati, 2017).
From an in-store perspective, both the Waikiki and Ala Moana locations receive a healthy amount of guests visiting from all over the world, most popularly Japan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand. Visitors from this area consistently speak of their love for the brand, and how easy it is to shop at Diesel, considering the amount of stores it has worldwide. For Japan, according to Google Maps, there are 10 retail stores in the heart of the country, most of which are in major cities like Shibuya and Shinjuku. In addition, Diesel has launched their e-commerce website to specifically market their products in Japanese (www.diesel.co.jp). This goes to show how hungry the brand is for success in countries different from what they are comfortable with.
In contrast to their iconic denim, Diesel is most known for their campaigns that are edgy, and sometimes controversial. The brand is fearless, standing up for what they feel is ethical, and what is sending the message they envisioned.
“In 1998, two years after Rosso's brash New York launch, the Wall Street Journal anointed Diesel "the label of the moment," citing its "emphatically European" look versus purveyors of prep like Tommy Hilfiger and the Gap. Diesel's sleek design aesthetic went hand in hand with its savvy advertising and marketing, much of it controversial for controversy's sake. In 2001 the company launched a $15 million print campaign featuring a fictitious newspaper, The Daily African. Black models in Diesel jeans lounged in limos or lay across mahogany desks under headlines imagining Africa's supremacy as a world power ("African Expedition to Explore Unknown Europe by Foot"). It won that year's Grand Prix at the International Advertising Festival in Cannes.” (O'Connor, 2013).
In a time where Caucasian is deemed ‘beautiful' and most sought-out after (and still is today), Diesel decided to launch a million dollar print campaign of Black models - not to stir controversy, but to open the eyes of it's consumers; a not so subtle move to “wake up” a very comfortable society. This is just one of the many campaigns that has gained recognition throughout the years.
Make Love Not Walls
The Spring/Summer 2017 collection campaign was one “for the books.” The campaign was entitled “Make Love Not Walls”, an ironic and controversial message to all, to tear down physical and mental barriers to come together.
“#makelovenotwalls is about tearing down the mental and physical walls that separate us, and let all sides come together in the name of unity and love. Diesel wants to tear down these walls showing that a brighter and exciting tomorrow is possible...Diesel takes on the Wall, a symbol of separation by definition, breaking it down to create strong storytelling throughout the imagery and a series of global actions developed around it: the diesel love tank breaks the wall with a heart shape turning a symbol of separation into a happy place full of flowers of celebration of freedom and love. Only by doing this you can be free to be truth to yourself, free to love who you want.” (diesel.com)
The campaign was launched late of 2016 as ‘preview', and officially launched in January (which is a normal time for brands to release their Spring/Summer line). Ironically at the same time, was when Donald Trump was elected President (January 20, 2017). Donald Trump is most known as a businessman, and wall-lover, stating the following; “"I will build a great wall -- and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me --and I'll build them very inexpensively. I will build a great, great wall on our southern border, and I will make Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words.” (cbsnews.com). Every monobrand store received a plush-like tank, and a mini-wall with a hole in it in the shape of a heart, flowers in that hole, proving their stance on the president's comedic quote.
Figure 1: Image from ‘diesel.com' - 2017. The image provided is an example of the SS17 campaign. Retrieved from Diesel.com, copyright by Diesel.
The photo clearly shows how two people from two different cultures are coming together in what seems to be a celebration of love. Diesel represents nothing but representation and equality for all.
Go With The Flaw
The Diesel Creative Director and the marketing team showed the same type of courage, launching the Fall/Winter 2017 campaign “Go With The Flaw.” This campaign gives the consumers insight into inclusion and equality as well.
““Being unique is much more beautiful than being perfect,” explained Diesel Artistic Director Nicola Formichetti. “Change the way you look at things so even the bad becomes positive, overcoming obstacles and fears. You'll have the best life possible”... “I was 15 years old when I made my first pair of jeans by hand. Of course, they weren't perfect, but that made them special and unique, like everything we have doing across our history so far,” said Diesel Founder Renzo Rosso. “I have always been more interested in imperfection because it stands out from the crowd.”” (Turra, 2017).
The brand even had ‘gifts with purchases', t-shirts that said ‘Im-Perfect' and ‘Perfection is Boring', one of the many ways Diesel showed to its customer base their stance on current events (such as diversity and inclusion).
The brand strategically also launched their seasonal capsule collection in Beijing in collaboration with Chris Lee, a chinese music celebrity. (Turra, 2017). This shows inclusion to the Chinese market, representing the simple fact that Diesel strives to market to a wide variety of cultures. This year, they are representing the Chinese culture yet again by releasing a capsule collection for the Chinese Zodiac, Year of the Dog. They do this on an annual basis, considering that many of the top stores are located in China, and Hong Kong.
Though it may not be known or represented as often, Diesel retail stores house one Visual merchandiser per store. Though you may think that a Visual Merchandiser's job is just to dress mannequins, you are heavily mistaken.
Per month, the ‘VM' successfully manages not only installs to help sales, but manage the install of the iconic window displays that we all see and enjoy. Diesel Corporate sends materials needed for every store to create a jaw-dropping display. For the SS17 campaign that was described above, they sent a plush-like tank, a mock-wall, and flowers, as well as other miscellaneous products to our store, where the visual merchandiser set it up the night prior to the launch date.
The role of the VM is important because the brand is heavily dependent on cohesive displays worldwide. Ensuring that the campaigns are launched at the same time internationally is extremely important. In addition, it is important that the VM takes the time to know the campaign, and to depict accurately what corporate wants to send. It is easy to make one simple mistake that can jeopardize the essential message (like facing the tank towards a mannequin, instead of the wall in the SS17 campaign), which may send the wrong message to some viewers.
There is no doubt that building a brand is difficult. Entrepreneurship is difficult, managing different departments like marketing, e-commerce, finances, and creating stores that accurately depict the message you are trying to convey. Yet, Diesel continues to be a top retailer in the denim industry today. By continuously pushing boundaries by representing the culture of Diesel, they have easily become a brand adored by millions. Having the courage to do what you feel is right; by inspiring others to be ‘brave' and courageous, is a simple takeaway to utilize in your professional and personal life. Of course, not everyone will agree with what you have to say. But in any aspect, stick with what you know and love, grow into an individual who can share your beliefs, and become an advocate for what's ethical.
In terms of international marketing, there are many different types of key factors that play a huge role in if you should market to that region, or not. As stated from the course textbook,
"What makes marketing interesting is the challenge of molding the controllable elements of marketing decisions (product, price, promotion, distribution, and research) within the framework of the uncontrollable elements of the marketplace (competition, politics, laws, consumer behavior, level of technology, and so forth) in such a way that marketing objectives are achieved." (Cateora, Gilly, Graham, Money, 2016).
Especially for a company like Diesel, ensuring that your campaigns do not offend the majority is quite important. However, this most recent Fall/Winter campaign was mainly geared towards United States residents by using a play on words by Donald Trump. Internationally, I think there is a large population who strives for representation and inclusion in all aspects of life. By successfully managing the controllable elements of marketing by creating amazing garments and denim, as well as it coinciding with the campaign, we create a cohesive brand that knows no boundaries to success. By following these rules, the reader is able to accurately market internationally by just being aware.
There is no doubt that we all have an awareness of the brand. Some may not necessarily agree with the message portrayed per-season. Yet, the brand is home to a billion-dollar group that successfully promotes their beliefs in campaigns that are relevant and inclusive. Their hunger for international growth and success knows no boundaries, and knows no limits. Just by being ‘Brave', this elite group is able to achieve extraordinary things in the years to come.
...(download the rest of the essay above)