EVOLVING from an import company selling leather bags for travel and daily use to its current position as a travel lifestyle brand offering more than 325 design and utility patents in goods ranging from accessories to women’s bags and travel bags, Tumi has, undoubtedly, come a long way since its inception.
It credits its customers as inspiration for everything, from product development to tailoring marketing strategies.
Tumi senior vice-president and managing director for Asia-Pacific Fernando Ciccarelli attests to this, as he cites the 2013 launch of the worldwide Tumi “Global Citizens” campaign which was “to celebrate our customers and their accomplishments.”
“The campaign featured real Tumi users — men and women of distinction and power players in their respective industries for whom travel is a way of life,” he tells The Edge Financial Daily in a recent email interview.
It was extended to the Asia-Pacific region in 2014 when two Asian Global Citizens — China’s award-winning industrial designer Jamy Yang and Hong Kong TV presenter Dominic Lau — were selected to participate in a social media drive to bring the Tumi brand values to life.
“We also handpicked over 100 Tumi Trailblazers from across the Asia-Pacific (China, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Thailand) to participate in the campaign. Each were given a Tumi bag and asked to record their travels on social media through video and a dedicated Tumi travel journal.
“Two of our key Trailblazers included Ung Yiu Lin — creator, owner and designer of Malaysian home-grown luxury fashion labels KLutched and ShoesShoesShoes — and Malaysian entrepreneur Joel Neoh of Groupon Asia,” Ciccarelli shares, adding that the #TumiGlobalCitizens campaign generated over 1,800 organic posts.
To date, the Global Citizens campaign has featured singer, songwriter and model Amanda Sudano-Ramirez, enviromentalist and National Geographic “Emerging Explorer” Alexandra Cousteau, Grammy award-winning composer and conductor Eric Whitacre, amongst a host of others from various industries including the travel and music fields.
Ciccarelli lets on that Tumi will introduce two more Global Citizens for its Fall 2015 season and because the company sees its global customers around the world appreciating the brand’s core values, Tumi loves to celebrate each market’s individuality and unique flair.
“We do this in a variety of ways, from collaborations with local design talents — in Fall 2014, we collaborated with a Beijing-based fashion designer Christine Lau to create a limited-edition collection for women sold exclusively in China — to commemorating key regional calendar moments like Chinese New Year — Tumi introduced a specially created Tumi luggage tag and a limited-edition Tegra-Lite case in gold this year.
“We will be celebrating the brand’s 40th anniversary this year; that is 40 years of design excellence and outstanding product innovation. In Asia, we will be marking this with a series of events and activities throughout the region [from March to May] where we will be introducing three new ‘groups’ of Tumi Asian Global Citizens from Hong Kong, South Korea and Malaysia to share their experiences with Tumi on video and through social media,” Ciccarelli elaborates.
On the deciding factors in its Global Citizens, he says using real Tumi customers and people for whom travel is a way of life was more interesting and authentic than using celebrity endorsers.
“The Global Citizens’ own accomplishments are aspirational and each is an existing Tumi customer. Some of them have been using Tumi for 10 or 15 years.
“In the advertising campaign — they were featured in print ads, video clips, websites and blog advertisements, and out-of-home advertisements including bus shelters, bus wraps and billboards as well as social media including Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter other than advertisements inside Tumi stores worldwide — each were paired with the newer or similar model bag they themselves own.
“These Global Citizens were chosen for being trailblazers in their careers and specialist fields, being inspiring in their roles and outlook on life, and global travel for them is a way of life. Because they are existing Tumi customers, they appreciate what the brand stands for and hold their position for one or two seasons,” Ciccarelli said.
The campaign has been “extremely effective worldwide and continues to be” as it resonates with its global customers who was the inspiration behind it, he says, adding that both the Global Citizens campaign and subsequent regional activities will be maintained this year.
On how Tumi has been performing in the Asia Pacific, Ciccarelli says it has been performing well.
“We’ve seen double-digit growth for the past few years, and we believe that this trend can continue. We will continue working with our regional partners to increase our brand awareness.
“Whilst our heritage is in travel, we have gained a lot of popularity and momentum within other lifestyle categories including everyday bags and accessories for both men and women, including backpacks, handbags, sling bags, cosmetics bags, mobile and tablet covers, and more.
“Our mission is to create the very best tools to make life’s everyday journeys as convenient as possible by delivering smart and fashionable bags and accessories with unparalleled performance.
“By focusing on product innovation and on delivering the highest standards in quality, durability, functionality and design to our loyal customers, we feel that we can stay ahead of our competition. We aim to be the go-to global premium travel lifestyle brand,” he adds.
Tumi arrived in Malaysia in 2007, to customers who appreciate its core values — combining the highest quality materials with unique design aesthetics that marry fashion, function and technical innovation. Ciccarelli said this is underpinned by world-class customer service which includes comprehensive product warranties, global repair services and round-the-clock service through tumi.com.
Last year marked an exciting year for Tumi with the opening of four new outlets, bringing its Malaysian points of sale to 11.
“We are very happy with our performance and partnership with Valiram (luxury goods and specialist retailer Valiram Group) and we look forward to seeing this continue,” Ciccarelli says, adding that backpacks and carry-on travel cases are popular amongst Malaysians.
The marketing strategy in Malaysia is taken as a holistic approach, he says, in that it incorporates advertising, public relations, direct marketing initiatives, customer events, influencer activities, and social media.
“It is important that we share a globally consistent brand message with the Malaysian customers, but at the same time it is important to also look at locally relevant aspects of marketing to further excite our fans here,” he adds.
This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on March 10, 2015.