One presentation not to miss is Metcha Forward, from the Virtual APLF Hello Fall-Winter 22/23 series. It offers powerful material on a series of trends that have come from the campaign’s goals:

This presentation explains more clearly than ever before how leather-oriented design can be put into the spotlight through telling compelling stories. To be effective, these must be developed into formats that fit the social media most used by Millennials and Gen Z and have been worked out by digital natives working in partnership with designers and creatives.

Beyond print

One problem with marketing is that often the senior decision makers come from older generations who remember promotion as a beautiful image in a print magazine or on a billboard. I am sure many marketers can recall when a CEO would demand endless rework on the image, leaving nothing in the budget to buy media space; or demands to use magazines they knew their friends at the golf club read, regardless of relevance to the target audience.

Companies are more professional today, but still struggle with the role of new media and comprehending how younger generations access information, news and entertainment. The print image is far from dead, but its role has changed.

Only a few advanced leather businesses got close to using social media correctly in the early days and calculated the way they needed to adapt material for the different types of user found on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, followed later by Pinterest, Instagram, WeChat, TikTok and more. There is constant turmoil in the digital world and Facebook’s woes from slicing and dicing our personal information to sell to advertisers ensures more churn ahead.

A large Twitter following is already looking like a stranded asset these days, with groups of like-minded people talking amongst themselves. LinkedIn has become overloaded with attention seekers and is fast losing its value, while Instagram has followed Facebook with endless advertising interruptions.

Then you have TikTok. This range of varied platforms shows why those who have good outcomes with social media hire experts, and why older executives need to listen and adapt if they are to succeed in this alien territory.

A new light

The Metcha presentation helps to explain the context of leather usage in this new language but translates it for general comprehension. We see the world around us in a new light and can think how to adjust products and conversations to be more relevant for our immediate customers and the final consumer.

The areas identified come from research on leather-oriented design and the categories are: Sustainability, Lifestyle, Fashion, Sneakers, Furniture and Automotive. This means there is a lot for everyone in the industry, whatever your sector.

Initially, watching Metcha work from the outside was an act of faith; but it was apparent that to talk to younger generations, an approach would be needed that many senior staff would never fully grasp. If they did, Metcha would not have been needed.

It is hard to spend money on something you cannot understand, so to see a presentation that translates it so well is more than reassuring. It is inspiring; just when we need reminding what good work our industry does.

And, with the leather industry steadily slipping out of its silos and working together, we need to support this global activity as well as our other pro-leather organisations as they take on the science, the databases that are biased against leather and the governments in order to define leather correctly in legislation.

Tanners and other stakeholders cannot stand back and expect their trade associations and other organisations like Leather Naturally to save the industry if they do not help. Less than 100 dedicated companies have made Metcha happen.

To support them is not hard or expensive but to stand away and leave it to others is to risk everything at this critical moment. What more could be achieved if we had 1,000 or 2,000 contributing to supporting the wonderful material that gives us our living?

Mike Redwood

Follow Dr Mike Redwood on Twitter: @michaelredwood

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