Inside Skew's Spring Haul Masterclass

Brand Strategy 6 minutes reading
TLDR: January 2024 saw the return of Skew’s Spring Haul, where we invite brands to join us for a day of retail research and expert insight. Here we outline the key takeaways from the event.""

What's a Spring Haul then?

For those of you who missed what our haul events are all about, here’s a quick recap. We ask brands to come to us with a current challenge they’re facing, a particular area of focus, or a project they are working on. In a one-on-one consultation, we discuss with them what they want to get out of the day and then we get to planning. We want to provide the Skew POV to clients, introducing them to our process that’s been honed over 20 years in the biz. It’s a great way to get a taste of what our agency can do and develop a clear strategy outlining how to move forward. On the day, we set the scene with a macro-trend presentation alongside equipping attendees with tools and tricks to maximise their research retail route, then we’re off! Each brand is accompanied by one of our expert teams on a tailored shopping trip around London. At the end of the day, everyone comes back together for a summary workshop, where participants organise their research and are coached to draw actionable conclusions.

Now we’re all up to speed, let's dive into what insights Spring Haul 2024 provided.

This year's brands

For Spring Haul 2024 we welcomed licensing professionals from a range of industries, including museums and heritage, food and beverages, and entertainment. Each brand came with a unique challenge; however, there were recurring themes that were common across all participants.

Sustainability was the word on everyone’s lips. It’s great to see an eco-conscious approach being adopted as the new normal; however, our task was to demonstrate how to stand out in a sea of greenwashing. More on that to come later.

Also, improving the way they comp shopped was a recurring request. We’ve all done it; you finally make time to get out to the shops, take a million photos, pop them in a folder on the shared drive for them never to be seen again. This is where we showed each attendee the in-house Skew process; strategic, analytical, and outcome-focused. We are obsessed with effectiveness at the studio; check out our MD’s mission to make the licensing industry more efficient by following Oliver Dyer on LinkedIn.

Finally, each brand was looking for a new POV. Everyone knows their main competitors, dream collaborators, and easy-win products; however, it’s our job to bring a new perspective that could just be the key to unlocking the challenge. Injecting new ideas, opportunities, and unexpected routes to growth backed up with expert insight and cross-industry knowledge is what the day is all about.

What’s the word on the high street?

Sustainability messaging continues to be a prominent and widespread theme. Every store had swing tags boasting green credentials, POS displays signalling recycled materials, and well-informed sales associates ready to regale you with tales of eco-friendly manufacture and materials.

Nevertheless, we're all familiar with greenwashing, and given the saturation of sustainability messages in the market, we can't help but question whether customers are becoming somewhat desensitised. It’s no longer enough to vaguely point out some eco-friendly product features on a kraft paper label; consumers need to see more.

The stores that nailed their sustainable message were the ones that seamlessly worked it into their brand identity and used authentic storytelling. As expected, the higher end we went, the greater attention was dedicated to this aspect, with Stella McCartney being a particular standout. A great example is their ‘banana skin bag’ launched as part of the A/W 2023 collection crafted from ‘Bananatex’, which is an organic, all-natural, biodegradable leather alternative. The sales assistant was well briefed and eager to go into detail about the brand's investment in eco-innovation.

Another destination of note was Blackhorse Lane Ateliers, who are well known for their commitment to sustainable denim. They double down on their motto ‘made by us for life’ by also providing a jean repair service. At their Coal Drops Yard shop, beautiful singer sewing machines line one side of the space. This visual storytelling not only reinforces their green credentials but also shows them to be experts in the construction and production of denim clothing. Also on display are worn versions of their styles alongside brand new pairs so the customer can easily envision how their jeans will look after 5 years of wear.

What attending brands are saying ...

'I really enjoyed reviewing the macro trends in the opening session before going out and seeing those trends playing out in the stores. I enjoyed being partnered with a member of the team and being guided through the process by them, from store to Miro boards. It was helpful to cover so much ground in just one day, the steps were worth it!' Hollie Madden, National Trust attendee of Spring Haul 2024.

Want to know more?

Our next workshop will be taking place in autumn 2024. Spring Haul sold out in record time so by registering your interest here, you’ll be the first to know when early-bird tickets go live and you’ll be able to jump the queue for our unique licensing retail masterclass.

If you want to check out the types of brands that attend our workshops, take a look at Skew case studies here.

Alternatively, if you want to know more about how we do things at Skew you can get the inside track by reading our series of 'Skew It Yourself' blogs, providing expert insight and how-tos, start here with 'How to Develop an Effective Brief'.

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