Why Bugaboo is no longer just for babies

Premium pushchair brand Bugaboo has launched its first global brand campaign to launch its new product line - luggage. Kate Magee speaks to the company's global chief marketing officer Madeleen Klaasen to explain the move.

Walk around certain affluent areas in London and it won’t be long before you spot a Bugaboo stroller.

For the past 20 years, the brand has been synonymous with the premium pushchair market, fuelled in part by its iconic logo appearing regularly on the arms of celebrities such as Victoria Beckham, Elton John and Kate Middleton in the media.

But today, the company has released its first global brand advertising campaign which promotes its new range of products – luggage.

For Bugaboo’s global chief marketing officer Madeleen Klaasen, the shift from pushchair to suitcase is a natural evolution of a company that has always been primarily about mobility.

It was what persuaded her to become the eighth employee at the Dutch company 17 years ago, when, during her first interview, Max Barenbrug, Bugaboo’s co-founder and chief design officer, talked passionately about the mobility of wheels and the importance of problem solving.

"He really wanted to make sure people had an easier and more fun experience going from A to B. Fifteen years ago, strollers were not design aesthetic products. He wanted to come up with products that look good but were practical," Klaasen says.

The new ad, "move freely", created by long-term agency partner 72andSunny, dovetails footage of a father pushing a buggy around a busy city with ease, while a woman pushes the new suitcase around a similar environment. The aim is to show the joy of movement that the company’s products offer.

The Bugaboo Boxer, a modular luggage system that you push rather than pull, is the first new product in its new mobility platform, but the company is also preparing to launch additional products in the future.

"From a brand perspective, we wanted to show the outside world that for us, whether it’s a stroller or luggage, we are about mobility products that make your life easier and you can move more freely. The ad has an emotional feel to show what our products can do for you," says Klaasen.

Interestingly, Bugaboo chose to launch the campaign in the cinema and as pre-roll ads online, rather than on TV. Klaasen says the company initially chose cinema because the bigger screen aids emotional connection. 

The company is also planning to evolve the campaign throughout the year, releasing shorter spots that will focus on more functional features of the product that allows for a more personalised and targeted approach for certain markets or viewers. 

Taking the long-term view

Critics could say the company has been slow to innovate; it has taken Bugaboo fifteen years to create the new product line. But Klaasen says this slower, long-term approach is baked into the company. "We take the time to do things right, and have strong connections and relationships. We wanted to make sure our whole story is consistent throughout the company. Mobility and quality is implicit in our product concepts, we just need to make that explicit now through our communications," says Klaasen.

This also translates into its agency relationships. For 15 years, the company has worked with 72 And Sunny. It also uses DigitasLBi. Klaasen, a former Nike marketer, is used to having a long relationship with an ad agency and believes it can bring benefits: "The world has changed, so we do work with smaller agencies now for specialist services. But for a brand campaign like this, we wanted to work with an agency that knows us well and created the brand with us from the beginning."

PR not advertising

Despite its fame, Bugaboo historically has not created many ads, instead, relying on word of mouth, influencers and PR. The company has tended to let the quality of the product speak for itself, and has found it more effective to get ambassadors, celebrities and influencers to tell its story on its behalf.

"Storytelling is now a buzzword, but every time we launched in a new country we’ve chosen to work with a PR agency to tell our story with media partnerships rather than just ads. We put a lot of effort into organising events for press, influencers and retailers," she says.

For example, when the Boxer system launched in September, the company worked with Wallpaper to find three influencers who are innovators in their own fields, to discuss their experience of using the new product. "We are looking for interesting stories to get our message across and making sure other people tell our story for us," says Klaasen.

Avoiding becoming a slave to data

The launch of new product ranges will help Bugaboo confront a specific marketing challenge – the purchase of a pushchair is not a regular event in a consumer’s life. Like a car company, it has to make the brand relevant, attractive and front of mind in that rare purchase moment.

"People spend more time searching for a stroller than a car," says Klassen. "When you buy from Nike – you might buy something three times a year. This is a different type of purchase, so the question is how do you get those people to come back?" she says.

The launch of a new product range will give Bugaboo different consumer touch-points and help it reach new audiences. 

Data will also help. Bugaboo has already used it to make its messaging more efficient, tailoring its messages to different stages in the customer journey. But Klaasen warns against becoming a slave to data, and ensures the company follows its gut instinct. "We need to find the right balance using data in the right way, sometimes just doing things that feel right." 

Another consideration for Klaasen is what proportion of the marketing budget is spent on the retail experience versus digital marketing. "Having the right retail experience for consumers is crucial for us. On paper you can see that other products have the same effects. But you need to experience the driving experience of our products, that’s something we never will compromise on," she says.

Indeed, what runs throughout all of Bugaboo’s marketing is the desire to maintain its premium positioning. To do so, it is consistent about always telling the story of its performance above any other consideration. "People feel like it’s a high price product, but we want to show it is more of an investment," she says.