Case Study: 15 Reasons Why This Little Known Suitcase Company Are Dominating Smart Travel eCommerce

Disclaimer: This post is in no way affiliated or endorsed by Horizn Studios. All information presented has been gathered through public sources.

Introduction

In 2015, two guys from Berlin got together with an idea to build a company that would revolutionise luggage.

3 years and $30m in funding later: Horizn Studios are now crushing the smart luggage market with an intense focus on their ideal customer, brand consistency and innovative growth strategies.

They have followed a now tried and tested method for producing high quality products at reasonable prices by cutting out distributor and retailer margins with the direct to consumer model.

We recently spent a week reverse-engineering their funnel, from top to bottom. And in doing so, we found 15 killer, direct to consumer growth strategies you can use to get more exposure and customers for your brand.

In this post, we’ll show you:

Why Horizn Studios reinvented the buying experience for their target market (and what you can learn from it)

  • Who Horizn Studios have partnered with to tap into fresh pools of perfect customers, with very low acquisition cost

  • The value adding product upsell that no other brand in the space offers (HINT: it’s a service given away for free for 12 months when you purchase a suitcase)

  • The simple strategy that you can implement today to boost Customer Lifetime Value

  • The two step Facebook Ad strategy Horizn Studios are using to convert cold AND warm audiences (HINT: They are using video ;))

  • How to get customers to act as walking advertisements for your brand (without needing to ask)


Horizn Studios Missing Strategy #16 & Tool List

Want to know the EXACT tools that Horizn Studios use to smash it at direct to consumer eCommerce? Sure, just share you email address using the button below and we wills end it right over.

(We have also included a final bonus Strategy #16 that HS are NOT and in our opinion, SHOULD BE using to grow).


  1. Intense Focus On Perfect Customer

Horizn Studios (HS) know EXACTLY who their Perfect Customer is.

And they communicate consistently to them throughout EVERY part of their brand:

  • Influencers? Aligned

  • Content? Aligned

  • Partnerships? Aligned

  • Facebook Ads? Aligned

  • Models? Aligned

  • Copy? Aligned

Its this intense focus on their Perfect Customer that I believe to be the true driver behind their recent success.

Their marketing and communication is optimised to make an emotional connection with a very specific type of person.

So as soon as this specific type of person is exposed to information concerning the HS brand, they immediately feel this connection, and are hooked.

It’s not a sexy marketing tactic.

It doesn’t make for a great blog post headline.

But it produces results.

Look…

Even the “Featured Channels” on their YouTube Channel match up with brands that resonate with this person:

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The tagline on their homepage:

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The copy in their Facebook Ads:

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Now throughout the rest of this article I’m not going to outline WHO I think this type of person is, it’s down to you to try and “feel” who this person is… but this should be easy thanks to the wonderful job HS have done.



ACTION - Who is YOUR perfect customer and are you consistent with your communication to this person?


2. Distinct Design For Viral Impact

Imagine if every customer you converted instantly became a walking billboard for your brand?

This is exactly what the large fashion houses do (Gucci, YSL etc …)

They invest $00’s of millions in the brand so that people will be influenced to purchase conspicuously… and then walk around showcasing their logo.

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This only works if you are able to enhance your brand such that your Perfect Customer WANTS to be seen with your product.

And, in just 3 years, HS’s brand is strong enough to do this.

But they are a little more subtle than the large fashion brands.

They mark their products in a more… let’s say: stylish way.

Check out their logo:

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Which is displayed on their products in two ways:

And:

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It’s subtle.

Yet still distinctive.

And will have definitely had an impact on the virality of their brand, essentially reducing blended customer acquisition cost with each unit sold.

ACTION - Is there a way you can brand your products to increase their virality?


3. Build A Unique Retail Presence

We are seeing a trend of digitally native, direct to consumer brands to move back to the high street. And HS is no exception.

We went to check out their retail presence in Shoreditch in East London and here’s what we found…

As we have come to expect… EVERYTHING was congruent with the same brand experience as HS’s online presence.

There was a space for full customisation of any product bought and a FREE Japanese tea bar, serving 6 variations of luxury tea.

Like Apple, there were no tills or checkout counters. To make a purchase you simply speak with one of the representatives in the store who can take your payment there and then.

One major advantage that digitally native, direct to consumer eCommerce businesses have over their offline relatives… is that they know EXACTLY where they should place their locations.

HS will have analysed their expansive customer data set to determine which country, city and area of that city to place their stores.

Their Shoreditch store is based on Redchurch Street, which also houses one of their previous partners: Shoreditch House (of the Soho House Group).

ACTION - Where does you customer data suggest you should place your first retail store?


4. Congruent EVERYTHING

It isn't just their online presence and products that HS keeps super congruent… It permeates through everything they do.

Their corporate responsibility programme supports emerging artists:

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Their partnerships work ONLY with brands aligned with their own values and mission:

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And their retail stores:

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All OOZE Horizn Studios.

You can immediately see/feel that you are engaging with the HS brand throughout each of these aspects of their brand.

ACTION - What else are you doing around selling physical products and does it add to or detract from your brand?

5. Utilising eCom Channel Partners

HS list on a number of eCommerce partner sites, this fuels growth and brand exposure.

Farfetch:

Opumo:

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And interestingly, Amazon:

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Note that the price point remains consistent and we estimate that each of these platforms takes an approx. £100 (30% of sales), which we also assume is the amount that HS aim to pay for a new customer through their own site.

Of course, with these platforms, HS would not get the ability to nurture a relationship with the customer in the way that they do with their direct to consumer sales.

E.g. Amazon are simply building the biggest customer list the world has ever seen and don’t like to share this data with their sellers.

Therefore the lifetime value HS get from a customer through one of these partner sites is not within their control as they will not have the ability to communicate to them past the sale.

However… HS are clearly aware of this and have recently unveiled Horizn Go, a complimentary travel concierge service for all customers, (see Strategy 11 for more details) that allows them to nurture the relationship with these customers.

ACTION - Which Channel Partners can you sell through to boost brand exposure and drive additional revenue?


6. Complimentary Brand Aligned Products To Boost LTV
Building a strong, direct to consumer brand will always open a door to use the data collected from your relationship with those consumers to inform your product roadmap.

As you develop further products as dictated by your community, this will obviously increase repeat rate leading to a higher lifetime value, enabling HS to then go out and invest more in acquiring new customers.

E.g. if HS currently invest £100 to acquire a customer and this delivers let’s say £50 in gross profit on that first transaction.

If customers do not have the ability to buy again, the lifetime value of that customer would be £50.

However, if HS release a selection of other products and promote them to their previous customer list via email and that customer buys:

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This delivers another £50 in gross profit to HS’s bottom line.

With this knowledge, HS may then be happy to invest £150 in acquiring that first customer. This may then give HS the ability to outspend their competitors and gain greater market share.

These complimentary products also act as fantastic upsells:

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Leading to an increased Average Order Value driving increased margin on the first transaction and again, having a favourable impact on Customer Lifetime Value.

ACTION - What else do your customers use/buy that you can also supply?


7. Solid Guarantee (inspired by Casper) & Warranty (inspired by Eastpak)

I remember being astounded by Eastpak’s 30 year guarantee as a 16 year old teenager looking for a stylish backpack…

And now it’s back:

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HS also reduce risk and increase conversion rate through a Guarantee inspired by Casper Mattresses:

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Both of these increase the belief in the consumer about the quality of the product they are buying which is especially important in eCommerce where customers cannot actually experience the product in real life before buying.

ACTION - Can you improve your guarantee/warranty to build more trust with customers?


8. Pre-Eminent Partnerships

As expected, HS only partner with individuals/other brands that directly connect with their ideal customer avatar.

DJ Seth Troxler:

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Car brand BMW:

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Football Team Borussia Dortmund:

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As well as getting access to the audiences of these partner brands driving revenue for HS, each collaboration also adds to the HS brand experience for their customers.

 ACTION - What other brands align with you and your Perfect Customer that you could partner with?


9. Cold/Warm/Hot Paid Strategy

With their assumed £100 ad budget for each new customer, HS have developed a cutting edge paid social strategy…

Cold Traffic

HS currently run short copy and video ads to cold traffic (people that are yet to encounter the HS brand):

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The video features their ideal customer avatar demographic simply walking along a path in an urban setting with their product.

And also a female version:

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These adverts presumably gain large exposure on Facebook as Facebook likes brands to keep people on Facebook watching video.

The content will resonate their perfect customer, giving a high engagement rate and a low cost per video view, prompting Facebook to show the video to more of its users.

This strategy may not produce customers within their acquisition cost but will be cost effective to build large Custom Audiences (see Warm Traffic section below) that will then be targeted with more conversion focussed ads.

Brands used to be able to show single image, conversion focussed ads to people that did not know them and clicks would be cheap enough to drive enough people to convert for the ad to be profitable.

But if we really think about this strategy, it is a little weird, almost like asking someone you just met on the street to marry you.

As Facebook/Instagram advertising becomes more saturated, CPC’s and CPM’s are increasing, making these types of ads less profitable.

Instead… a new paradigm of Facebook Advertising is emerging…

Where brands build large, cheap Custom Audiences, and then target just these people with more conversion focussed ads.

Giving the long term benefits of massive brand exposure along with the short term benefits of more conversion focussed ads: e.g. revenue.

They are also running a novel approach to cold traffic on Facebook that directs people (presumably on mobile only) to their Instagram profile using very on trend hashtags:

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They are also driving cold traffic to their product pages using Google Shopping ads:

Warm Traffic

HS run dynamic product advertisements to people that have viewed products or added products to cart but have not purchased:

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They use social proof and authority from brands influential to their customer avatar or use copy that speaks directly to them:

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We also assume that ads such as the one above are running to the Custom Audiences build up from their cold traffic campaigns, driving cheap conversions and bringing their acquisition cost down.


Hot Traffic

HS also run ads promoting new products to existing customers when they are released:

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A combination of the Cold/Warm/Hot strategies we assume is driving new customers to HS as an acquisition cost that fits in the 30-40% range of average order value, coming close to break even and potentially making a profit on that first sale.

Though of course, HS will then nurture their relationship with the customer that will drive more profitable sales in the future.

ACTION - What is your current Cold/Warm/Hot paid Facebook/Instagram acquisition strategy?


10. Congruent Content
HS are producing and promoting brand congruent content in various formats out at the top of their funnel to gather attention and to start building relationships with their perfect customer avatar.

Playlists for their Perfect Customer to listen to whilst travelling:

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Travel Guides for their Perfect Customer to use while they travel:

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Interviews for their Perfect Customer to read while they travel:

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And the best part?

Each and every piece of content on their site links directly to product pages:

ACTION - What are the information needs of your Perfect Customer (written/audio/video) and how can you fulfil these?


11. Physical Product Brand Upselling Services?!?! Meet Horizn Go

Say “hello” to Horizn Go, HS’s game-changing travel concierge service :

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Horizn Go is offered for free for the first 12 month when purchasing any suitcase (enabling HS to develop the relationship with customers driven through their eCommerce partners such as Farfetch and Amazon).

A personal assistant will book all flights/hotel reservations/dinner arrangements for you. Ideal for their time starved, status hungry, millennial Customer Avatar.

A remarkable differentiation from other competitors in the space (e.g. Away) but also a fantastic upsell…

Once you get hooked on an efficient assistant that saves a significant portion of you time with travel admin, it is hard to give that up.

So in 12 months after each purchase, HS should enjoy a substantial subscription revenue stream, yet again boosting LTV.

And the best part?

It’s a white labeled service through Quintessentially Travel, reducing HS margin but also ensuring they can focus on their core competencies of product development and brand building.

ACTION - What services related to your brand does your Perfect Customer use and is there a white labelled provider that could supply these?


12. Small But Significant Product Innovations

The majority of the points above focus on HS’s extremely congruent and high quality brand…

Though all of that work would be much less effective if their products were not innovative.

HS are riding the Smart Luggage wave and have implemented a number of small product innovations focussing on a digitally native consumer in an industry where the last biggest innovation was moving from a 2 wheel to a 4 wheel suitcase.

See them here:

Note we have nothing completely game changing here, just small innovations that make the life of the millennial traveller a tiny bit easier:

  • Pocket for the electronics on the front eradicating the desperate search the laptop in the security queue

  • Inbuilt, removable phone charger

  • Some really nice wheels

  • A combination lock

  • Integrating GPS to reduce risk of loss

Nothing completely game changing but enough to warrant the “Smart Luggage” label and to enable their customers to rationalise the luxury price point.

That said...

They have also managed to innovate around airline regulation that put two of their competitors out of business:

ACTION - What are the small, customer focussed innovations you can build into your product?


13.Ingenious Influencer Strategy

HS work with very specific, brand aligned influencers.

Influencers that resonate intensely with their Perfect Customer:

https://www.instagram.com/vanellimelli/

https://www.instagram.com/sonny_hall/

https://www.instagram.com/rienwelsink/

https://www.instagram.com/rianne.meijer/

With the £250+ retail price and a product that we believe would resonate significantly with each of these influencers, they may have been able to land those promotion posts at a £0 fee.

They then recycle the content onto their own channels for influence and social proof:

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ACTION - Who are the people on social media that have an audience of your Perfect Customers and would be happy to post in exchange for one of your products?


14. Seamless Checkout Process

As discussed above, almost every page on the HS’s site include links directly to product pages:

https://horizn-studios.co.uk/en/brand

Making each and every page work to the sites overall conversion rate.

And once you are on the product page, you enter into a seamless conversion process from investigation through to checkout:

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When you land on a product page, live chat pops up to answer any questions you may have… enabling HS to learn about their customer and also increase conversion rate at the same time.

We then add to cart and get gently nudged to relevant, pre-purchase upsells:

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You can then give a friend credit through a popup:

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NOTE: this mentionMe logo in the bottom right of the popup was the only non brand aligned design element I was able to find throughout HS’s online and retail presence.

Moving on to the checkout, which is of course, fully congruent with the rest of the site and housed on the same domain (you would be surprised at the amount of brands that don’t do this):

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ACTION - Are there other pages on your site that currently don’t link to your products and how congruent is your checkout process?

Horizn Studios Missing Strategy #16 & Tool List

Want to know the EXACT tools that Horizn Studios use to smash it at direct to consumer eCommerce? Sure, just share you email address using the button below and we wills end it right over.

(We have also included a final bonus Strategy #16 that HS are NOT and in our opinion, SHOULD BE using to grow).


Conclusion

There we have it, a complete teardown of how Horizn Studios are crushing direct to consumer growth.

Here is a summary again:

  1. Intense Focus On Perfect Customer

  2. Distinct Design For Viral Impact

  3. Build A Unique Retail Presence

  4. Congruent EVERYTHING

  5. Utilising eCom Channel Partners

  6. Complimentary Brand Aligned Products To Boost LTV

  7. Solid Guarantee (inspired by Casper) & Warranty (inspired by Eastpak)

  8. Pre-Eminent Partnerships

  9. Cold/Warm/Hot Paid Strategy

  10. Congruent Content

  11. Physical Product Brand Upselling Services?!?! Meet Horizn Go

  12. Small But Significant Product Innovations

  13. Ingenious Influencer Strategy

  14. Seamless Checkout Process

What next?

It’s your turn…

Comment below with the # of the strategy that you are going to implement FIRST after reading this… we will keep you accountable ;)

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