BERLIN, Germany — Vivienne Westwood, Viktor & Rolf and FKA Twigs are the headline acts of Zalando's Bread & Butter festival, which begins Friday and which will act as its seasonal marketing campaign. The three-day Berlin event is designed to encourage consumer engagement by tapping into the experience economy.
The Bread & Butter festival, a former trade show which was acquired by the German e-commerce platform last year, will feature a fashion shows from The Kooples and Jil Sander, fitness sessions by Nike and Reebok, fashion exhibitions and a panel discussion presented by Adwoa Aboah. There will also be street food stalls, over 40 DJ sets and performances from MIA and Wyclef Jean.
“We were exploring additional ways to engage with the customer beyond the traditional mediums,” Carsten Hendrich, vice president of marketing at Zalando, tells BoF. “It means that we move away from a traditional campaign approach and more into a live campaign approach… It allows us to be more experiential in the way that we do marketing.”
For Zalando — which was founded in 2008 and reported revenues of €3.6 billion in 2016 — immediately capitalising on the commercial aspect of the festival isn’t the priority. While there will be 45 “brand labs” and over 400 exclusive products available to buy, the hope is that attendees will shop online afterwards: each €20 ($23.83) ticket is redeemable against a future Zalando purchase.
“The tickets don’t fund the event, the model is different,” David Schneider, co-founder of Zalando tells BoF. “For us, the main currency is how much reach do we generate with it, and it’s a lot of organic reach — of course we have quite a lot of effort and cost to produce the event, but there are so many people there sharing on social media, and the content is really authentic and relevant, so people are sharing it. It’s a lot better in engagement terms than if we produce a static commercial campaign.”
As such, 15 hours of festival coverage will be live-streamed across social media to extend the reach well beyond its 30,000 attendees. As part of its multi-disciplinary strategy, Zalando partnered with A$AP Rocky on a music video advertisement earlier this year to advertise its "Remix Fashion" campaign: the festival is the next evolution of this.
Bread & Butter is an opportunity for brands to extend their reach too. “It gives us the opportunity to showcase haute couture to a broader audience,” designers Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren tell BoF. Their couture show will act as a prelude to a collaboration that will launch on the site in January — festival-goers will be able to order the show pieces immediately using an RFID bracelet.
The festival forms part of a mission to strengthen Zalando's brand offline. Earlier this year, the company announced that it was considering brick-and-mortar stores in London and Paris. “You are really limited in the digital space in terms of interactions,” says Hendrich, citing Coachella and SXSW festivals as experiential reference points. “It’s all about having a shared experience. Of course, everything we do needs to pay off commercially, but the primary objective with Bread & Butter is engagement with customers and shaping perception. The consumer is in power right now."