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It’s about time tanners popped up for the consumer

In his final ILM opinion piece of 2023, Mike Redwood discusses the notion of tanners renting pop-up shops to reach consumers, especially the young, directly.

Mike Redwood

Columnist

International Leather Maker


Have you ever thought of renting a pop-up shop for a month to promote leather? These short-term rentals excite visitors to the high street or other clever spots where they are to be found and offer amazing opportunities for companies to promote their activities in creative ways at low risk.

We have been seeing comments that indicate some headway is being made in getting the sustainability message through in the Business-to-Business space with some journalists and serious brands starting to understand leather’s links to circularity, regenerative agriculture, repair and longevity. Hopefully this is true and continued work will keep moving forward in this area.

But many younger bodies and individuals are telling us not to forget the consumer, especially the young. Those with knowledge of ingredient branding – think of NutraSweet, “Intel inside” and Gore-Tex – will know that taking the message to the final consumer is essential to pull leather through the brands and retailers. It’s a question of time, money and organisation.

The Animal Agriculture Alliance tells us that the animal rights bodies have combined annual income of over US$800 million and have put leather high in their sights yet the leather industry still shows little signs of giving its leading bodies the funds to start any major marketing campaign. While it is never too late to get contributing, and Christmas time would be a good moment to sign up with your US$2000 per annum (to Leather Naturally for example), even a great campaign would need additional on the ground support around the world.

Tannery open days

Tannery open days, speakers going to schools and colleges, craft, furniture, motor industry and outdoor trade fairs offer examples of how tanners might interface with the public, and in particular the knowledge starved younger generations, and explain the truths of the value of leather.

In the rather amazing world of British fast food the UK’s biggest is a bakery chain called Greggs, and despite its quite wide range is perhaps best known for its pasties. A pasty is a folded pastry case with a savoury filling, typically of seasoned meat and vegetables, but many things can be included. It was made famous as the perfect food for farmers and workers to have during their short lunch breaks. In today’s rushed life of both work and play it has become a much-favoured meal, mostly eaten on-the-go or on a public bench.

Eating Greggs pasties with a knife and fork amuses consumers

This December Greggs have opened a pop-up “all day fine dining” bistro in their hometown of Newcastle in the Northeast England. It has been a runaway success. The idea of eating Greggs products with a knife and fork has greatly amused consumers. Dishes such as Greggs Benedict are viewed as great fun as well as surprisingly tasty. For our foodie readers think of Greggs Festive Bake – delicious duck-fat roasties, smoked pancetta, chestnuts and sprouts with a pouring of silky gravy. Or maybe the Steak Bake taken to new culinary heights accompanied by truffled creamy dauphinoise potatoes, green beans and a sprinkling of almonds. And finish with Greggs Yum Yum Bites paired with chocolate sauce and banana.

Greggs is of course a chain with a sizeable marketing budget and the tools to leverage this month-long pop-up far and wide, but leather is a material that consumers love to touch, to understand and appreciate. All manner of creativity is possible to grasp and hold consumer interest which could involve items for sale, product making demonstrations, talks, article maintenance and repair, artistic use in painting or sculpture.

What is clear is that these temporary places offer opportunities for reaching new audiences at a relatively low risk, low-cost experimental way that once tried will quickly evolve and improve.

Much of the world is about to take a break (Christmas/New year) and increase their retail consumption. So, this is a good moment to think about consumers and how to get young and old more engaged with leather and think about their own consumption in a more mature way.


mike@internationalleathermaker.com

Follow Dr Mike Redwood on Twitter: @michaelredwood

Publication and Copyright of “Redwood Comment” remains with the publishers of International Leather Maker. The articles cannot be reproduced in any way without the express permission of the publisher.