2017 has been quite a busy year for TUMI in China, Hong Kong, and Macau. New store design, limited edition and exclusive collections for Asia, and collaborations with acclaimed personalities in different industries, just to name few.
Ultimately, those different brand activations contributed to strengthen TUMI’s brand awareness in those markets, and present a new way of travelling.
Retail in Asia has met Adam Hershman, TUMI Mainland China, Hong Kong & Macau General Manager, and asked him to share with us how travel cases have been moving a commodity to a fashion statement, and how TUMI is transforming accordingly.
Adam also shared with us precious market insights about the region is looking after, and the key features of TUMI’s new store design to enhance customer experience.
RiA: TUMI is constantly incorporating innovation to enhance the travelers’ experience as well as their day-to-day life. What are the key disruptive aspects of TUMI’s innovation process?
TUMI: Our mission is to help people perfect their journey and make their lives easier. In order to fulfill this goal, we look across different industries to get inspiration.
Whether it’s the ballistic nylon material of the Alpha Bravo men’s line or the magnetic push lock flap closure of the Mariella women’s collection, innovation is at the core of TUMI’s DNA.
We want to innovate and elevate every single detail, whether it be the simple zipper or the TSA-lock system we have patented. In addition to technological applications, we are also working on design and patterns to create desirable, high-performance products like our latest 19 Degree travel case collection.
RiA: Travel cases have evolved rapidly in recent years, moving from simply being iconic trunks to fashion accessories. How do you keep up with innovation in design and aesthetics?
TUMI: A key element for travel cases has always been the need for functional, lightweight options. But now, on the top of that, they are also a fashion statement!
TUMI’s latest collection for Spring/Summer 2018 merges beautiful design with superior functionality. Our first-ever aluminum travel case collection, 19 Degree, perfectly reflects the combination of luxury and innovation and this season we introduce it in a stunning Ivory Gold.
We are also constantly refining collections and their design language. For example, our iconic men’s Alpha Bravo is relaunched this season with a sleeker, modern look while maintaining its military-inspired characteristics and we also introduce exciting, seasonal color pops like Green Camo and Grey/Citron.
We also innovate by drawing inspiration from the dynamic lifestyle of modern travelers. Our new Merge travel collection is a lightweight, relaxed option that balances form and function and was designed to embody the concept of work-life balance.
RiA: You often release limited edition and exclusive collections throughout the year, how do you choose your partners and which sector do you usually look at?
TUMI: Before setting up a partnership, we look back at TUMI’s core values and mission. We are a leading international brand of premium travel with the wish to inspire people and offer them unique travel solutions, meaningful to their lives.
We have to share the same vision. For our collaboration with Anna Sui a few years ago, we really looked at her day-to-day routine and how she travelled to draw inspiration and develop an authentic, creative partnership that resonated with our customers and was true to our brands.
TUMI is also eager to work with industry leaders. We recently released a limited edition collection created in collaboration with Russell Westbrook, the American NBA basketball player and reigning MVP. Well-known for his performance on the court, Russell is also recognized as an international style icon and he shares our love of design and craftsmanship.
RiA: As General Manager of China, Hong Kong, and Macau, you must have observed the various regional traveler’s profiles. What would be the main differences among them?
TUMI: I think for suitcases, in spite of the market, it all comes down to quality, design, and functionality, which is what all customers want, and how we want to capture the global market.
However, there are some differences regionally. Hong Kong and Chinese consumers prefer lightweight products, such as our hardside V3 collection, made of lightweight polycarbonate, and the Harrison nylon men’s collection.
Additionally, in Mainland China, we witness a rising younger generation of customers who are willing to take more fashion risks and are drawn towards our more trend-led pieces. For instance, we see the increasing adoption of more seasonal print colours and designs and we also see the potential in a rapidly growing women’s market. Women now come to TUMI not only to buy travel cases, but also handbags, backpacks, business bags and accessories.
We also tailor launches around certain products designed with the Asia region in mind. Our 19 Degree Polycarbonate Packing Case in seasonal White was one example of a design that’s been created to meet regional tastes.
RiA: Have you observed any specific travel trends among millennials in Mainland China?
TUMI: Millennials are of course very digitally savvy and are a significant consumer market all over the world, not only in China. They are one of the reasons why we are investing into our digital network and constantly looking for inspiration throughout digital platforms.
Chinese millennials are very knowledgeable and have access to the latest, fashion-forward trends and information. This does influence and inspire us in terms of fashion and style, as well as in the development of our design language.
RiA: How do you manage the brand-influencer game in Greater China, HK and Macau?
TUMI: Social media and key opinion leaders allow us to explore new collaborations and partnerships. In Hong Kong, we recently worked with Veronika Li (@vnikali) to create a series of visual content to promote our Voyageur Leather Halle Backpack. It was an exciting campaign that got great feedback from both print and online media. Overall, we are selective with our influencers. At the end of the day, if they are fans, they are much easier to engage and connect with our existing community of fans.
RiA: Aside from your digital initiatives, how do you enhance the offline customer experience?
TUMI: We have recently done some big things in Hong Kong to offer customers an exceptional TUMI experience. We renovated two stores in ifc mall and Pacific Place and opened a new boutique at Elements in September 2017. All of these stores have been upgraded with our Madison Store concept. This concept was developed by award-winning designer and architect Dror Benshetrit for TUMI’s flagship store on Madison Avenue in New York and has now been rolled out at select locations worldwide.
The concept helps make our stores the right canvas to tell the TUMI story with a premium, sophisticated environment. The stores are brightened up so that the products really stand out on their displays. The store also seamlessly incorporates digital technologies, like touchscreen and video displays. With our monogram booth, we can also customize products on the spot for another interactive touchpoint.
Most recently, we enhanced our customer experience in Hong Kong through a California-inspired ‘TUMI House’ pop-up in the Oval Atrium of ifc mall. Over a four day period, the chic West Coast style TUMI beach house offered visitors a chance to fully experience the Spring/Summer 2018 collection’s California inspiration and to explore the new travel, men’s and women’s assortments.
RiA: The Fall/Winter collection was inspired by the New York State. What will be the theme of the future collection?
TUMI: For Spring/Summer 2018, TUMI injects its travel, men’s and women’s collections with the true essence of California. Our Global Creative Director, Victor Sanz, was inspired by the state’s diverse natural landscapes, scenic cities, and rapidly evolving creative community. The result was the new collection that has some fun with bold color highlights, stylized graphic prints, and unexpected pops of neon.
As a premium travel lifestyle brand, we are very often inspired by places we go and travel to. Every season we shift our focus as we look to celebrate every journey, from the long-haul holiday to the everyday commute.
Retail in Asia has been looking at the traveleisure trend in fashion, and suitcases are definitely part of it. They have become a fashion statement, and brands need to evolve to catch up with the new demand.