How a luggage empire sold $450,000 worth of suitcases with a coffee table book.
Jen Rubio is in Zurich airport. Her suitcase breaks. She leaves behind a trail of her clothes as she races to catch her flight.
She arrives home with less underwear than she left with, an embarrassing story and a broken suitcase she needs to replace.
Naturally, she takes to Facebook, asking for recommendations.
What does she hear?
Besides a $4,000 piece of luggage that a friend recommends, Rubio finds that folks mostly hate the suitcases they’re hauling around the globe.
She decides, with the help of her future business partner Steph Korey, to start a direct to consumer luggage company that designs and sells amazing affordable luggage.
(A.K.A luggage that won’t leave your underwear MIA nor cost you $4,000).
Together, the duo raises $2.5 million from investors and plan to launch their very first suitcase on Christmas.
Christmas comes earlier than expected.
In a pursuit to craft the perfect suitcase, Rubio and Korey scour the globe to find the creme de la creme of suitcase crafting materials.
Manufactures tell them while they can certainly make the suitcases, it’ll take longer than expected… longer than Christmas.
The pair are now faced with a decision…
Push back the deadline
Somehow launch without suitcases on hand.
They decide on the latter.
Rubio and Korey and a small team of designers begin crafting a coffee table book curating 40 influential people and their favorite spots to vacation.
They interview them.
Write stories about them.
And, use each individual’s vacation photos as imagery for the book.
They then smack a price tag of $225 on the coffee table book and tell folks who are interested that they can redeem the voucher in the book for a suitcase in the future…
Guess how many they sell?
In but a couple weeks, they sell out of their coffee table books, all 2,000 of them they printed. And, in the process, they sell $450,000 worth of suitcases they didn’t at the time have.
The following year, when they officially launch, they sell an additional 55,000 suitcases.
Today, the luggage company known widely as Away is valued at $1.4 billion.
A thought worth brooding over during your next cup of joe.
Away’s bat shit crazy marketing idea wasn’t all that dissimilar to Airbnb’s. They designed a product, made it limited edition by only creating a limited number and asked folks to buy it.
However, the nature of the product makes things interesting. In a world where all content seems to be digital (how many times have you been asked to download an ebook this week alone)… folks seem to gravitate towards physical content… like magazines, vinyl records and in Away’s case, a coffee table book.
If you have content –– creative, clever and compelling content –– breath some life into it, remove the screen and get a little physical.
By Cole Schafer.