A noted absence

Redwood Comment
Published:  04 March, 2020
Dr Mike Redwood

One of the most curious aspects of the last decade has been the absence of the leather industry from social media, while most of our customers in key areas like sports, automotive and luxury have become global leaders in using it to advantage. 

A significant misunderstanding about the role of marketing, to which I have often alluded, has been a major part of it with a fear of pitfalls failing to be offset by an obvious gain in sales price and margin in the mind of the tanner. Confused by the implications of an inflexible raw material supply and a lot of predatory pressure groups, the industry backed away from a primary tool of business. Marketing was consigned to a feeble brochure and seasonal colour card.

Circular messaging
In the last two years we have started to see the sudden arrival of many leather stakeholders in the social media arena, and so far, with a few exceptions it is not heartening. Declining social media streams are preferred to the more relevant ones, there is little sign of any market segmentation being considered, the product oriented approach dominates as ever, and there is little or no attempt to tailor the message to suit the different audiences involved in each social media site.

At a moment when the industry has decided to not sing in unison, although it desperately needs to, the best description of what is happening is that it is singing in harmony amongst itself, and itself alone. To those few doing a good job, I apologise, but the overall picture is very apparent: and profoundly depressing.

Where are our senior CEOs
There is another aspect of note here, which is, where are our CEOs in all this? There are many pitfalls in getting engaged in social media and some have been given wide publicity, although in reality they are rare. I was heartened to read a recent article on Business Life by Pilita Clark in which she encouraged CEOs to venture onto Instagram. As she says “social media tends to reward authenticity and genuine revelation”, so it is care and thoughtfulness that is needed and not verbal or iPhoto diarrhoea. Avoid repeating propaganda. She also thinks that more CEOs should write business books in the way that Phil Knight wrote “Shoe Dog”, which I am sure many of or senior executive have read.

As she says “Shoe Dog” was a favourite as it was so rare. We are short of insights into how the world of business works. Instagram is a neat route to open up that world and to better understand the whole environment of social media, segmented and targeted audiences and why tools like Metcha that are highly targeted end up misunderstood by many. In my mind, the fact that so many of our senior executives misunderstand Metcha is because they have not looked with their marketing team at where their consumers exist, and who they really are.

Do that and their Instagram postings would be even more interesting, as would their books.

Mike Redwood
March 4, 202

mike@internationalleathermaker.com

Follow Dr Mike Redwood on twitter: @michaelredwood

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