business news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

Marketing Dive reports on a unique ad campaign by LL Bean that is based on an actual letter written to the company in 2007 by an eight-year-old girl who was wondering how best to wear out her LL Bean backpack;  she desperately wanted a new one, but was told by her parents that she could only get one when the old one wore out.  Which it wouldn't.

Here's the ad:

According to the story, "L.L. Bean also located the writer, who is now 23 years old but was eight years old at the time of the letter, to recall the event, representing the evergreen trend of utilizing real people and stories in marketing materials to form the human connection consumers crave. The campaign will see a social media activation with the hashtag #dearllbean, encouraging others to share similar stories on social media, as well as a microsite full of similar stories about the Book Pack’s durability with a call-to-action to purchase the bag."

What impresses me about the ad is that it makes clear the importance of value, not just low price.  That's a key component of the LL Bean proposition - its prices may not be the lowest, but generally its products are going to stand up over time, making them more an investment than an expense.

I know this from personal experience - I have shirts and t-shirts from LL Bean that I've been wearing for decades - they last seemingly forever.  The only problem for LL Bean is that also means there is no reason to buy new ones, unless they come out with a new color or two.  (May I put in a request here for a black and navy blue Sunwashed Canvas Shirt, please?)

Retailers that can make clear to shoppers that there is a difference between "value" and "low price," and that sometimes the latter isn't the best or most frugal option, are the ones more likely to established sustained relationships with their shoppers.

This approach, I think, can be an Eye-Opener.