Founded ten years ago, the growing importance of Leather Naturally (LN) has increased in the past few years. The leather industry is looking to inform and educate more consumers, especially the younger generations, about the inherent qualities and sustainable attributes of a by-product from another industry after facing sustained attacks by anti-leather/meat organisations and growing competition from other materials, especially plastics, that are eroding its market share. Egbert Dikkers, Chairman, Leather Naturally steering committee, speaking at the breakfast seminar in Hong Kong said that LN had been a formal not-for-profit legal entity since October 2018 and that it had almost raised US$1.5 million from the industry to kick-start a new promotional campaign which will begin later in 2019.

The campaign will be focussed on reaching out to generation-Z and millennial consumers especially in Europe, Asia and North America and re-connecting them with the qualities and values of leather. “The internet is full of negative images and lots of fake news surrounding leather especially on social media”, said Dikkers. “We want to talk to young people in a way they understand that leather is a cool, sexy and inspiring material.” 

Fernando Bellese from the LN steering committee outlined where and how the first phase of the campaign should be targeted and said that they were going to engage a PR agency to begin the first phase in the spring of this year, once the initial funding had been secured. The campaign will focus on all the main leather market segments, especially in the fashion arena.  

Dikkers also encouraged stakeholders to use all the promotional marketing means at its disposal to promote the positive image of leather and engage actively with designers and stylists from brands and retailers as well as the consumer. A number of new stakeholders joined LN during the APLF, March 13-15, in addition to the 73 existing companies and organisations.

Dikkers also encouraged all leather industry members to explore ways of finding a long-term financing model to ensure that the campaign has longevity and is not reliant on larger donations from a few stakeholders. A challenge that he has put to the Global Leather Coordinating Committee (GLCC) to consider.