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Wool Confab Discusses Fresh Marketing Approaches

Experts looks to identify new wool consumers.

BIELLA, Italy — Marketing and communication are key tools to attract customers to wool.

This story first appeared in the June 18, 2013 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Experts speaking at the “From Farm to Fashion — The Wool Supply Chain and the Consumer” conference on Friday here during the 82nd International Wool Textile Organization Congress, including Loro Piana Group president and chief executive officer Pier Luigi Loro Piana and Pitti Immagine ceo Raffaello Napoleone, discussed the wool industry’s future and ways to identify new customers for the sector.

“What is missed in the wool industry, which is strongly attached to the tradition, is the link with the contemporary urban culture,” said Lanificio F.lli Cerruti president Nino Cerruti. “Wool needs to return to be considered young to be appreciated by a larger audience.”

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Cerruti said the wool industry tends to talk about its products by highlighting the technical elements without mentioning wool’s positive qualities, which must be communicated to customers.

“In our postindustrial society there are two kinds of customers — the analogic and the digital one,” said sociologist Domenico De Masi, who highlighted the importance of using different communication strategies to talk to these two targets.

De Masi also noted that society is rediscovering certain traditional values typical of the preindustrial society, including a renewed interest in the quality of life and the quality of products people buy.

According to research conducted by Centro Studi Diomedea and based on 122 interviews with Italian fashion retailers, 65 percent of them think their customers pay a lot of attention to materials when they make their purchases. The study found that 52 percent also said that customers tend to read the label with fabric components. In addition, according to the research, 76 percent of the retailers think that customers consider that the quality of wool is higher than that of other materials.

“The main goal of the retail is to transmit [to] costumers the value of the quality,” said La Rinascente ceo Alberto Baldan, who revealed that in September the Milanese department store will team up with Woolmark to launch Woolmark’s first “Campaign for Wool” in Italy.

For the occasion, La Rinascente’s windows will be dedicated to the campaign aimed to promote wool.

“We always create campaigns targeted to the different markets,” said Woolmark ceo Stuart McCullough. “Usually brands have a specific type of marketing, but we recognized we had a lot of people we wanted to communicate with.”

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The launch of this initiative in Italy is in line with the company’s strategy, which, according to Woolmark global chief strategy and marketing officer Rob Langtry, is to reposition wool as a luxury fabric and educate consumers. Woolmark is also working in collaboration with international brands to help the wool industry.

Along with these kinds of communication strategies with a focus on emotional appeal, Ermenegildo Zegna Group president Paolo Zegna said wool companies could open their doors to the public to make customers discover the qualities of wool.

“I’m feeling the necessity of opening our factories to our customers,” Zegna said. “This will create solid relationships between the public and those companies promoting the quality of Made in Italy.”