Like many of my female friends, I love a great handbag — a classy, attention-grabbing purse with clean lines and great design.  But over the past couple of years, I’ve been researching more about the products I buy and trying to buy cruelty free in every aspect of my life. Like a growing segment of the global population, I no longer want to purchase handbags or shoes made of animal skins and furs. According to business consultancy Grand View Research (GVR), the vegan leather market is set to be worth $85 billion globally by 2025.

The number of vegan, animal-free, cruelty-free, ethical fashion designers is on the rise. With better materials and top-tier craftsmanship, brands like Louenhide and Jill Milan are creating adorable handbags that satisfy vegans and fashionistas.

Retailers are paying attention while more designers and retailers are attracted to the cruelty-free market space.

Now is the time to get your handbags into retail stores, but marketing to retailers requires different strategies than marketing to consumers.

An Insider’s View

No one knows how to speak to an industry quite like someone with experience in that industry. My love of marketing grew during my years as assistant buyer for a department store chain with more than 100 locations in several states, and later on I worked with a luggage manufacturer that  made the leap into handbags. Buyers pay attention to consumer trends, but since their purchasing goals are different from those of a single consumer, sometimes they need a little help to see what those trends are.

While a consumer is buying a purse for their own personal use, a department store buyer is taking a chance or making an educated guess. They are making a massive purchase in the hope that the product will be popular enough to move. Taking a chance on the wrong product will leave the retailer literally holding the bag.

So, if you’re ready to leap into retail, it’s vital to show retailers that their trust in your brand isn’t something they’ll regret later.

Fans vs. Retailers. Why Not Both?

There is a synergy between reaching consumers and reaching retailers. But the right blend requires experience, sometimes requiring your brand to start small and test some hand-picked markets. Buyers like to see a ready-made fan following for the brands they purchase, true. But your message should be more robust when speaking to retailers to reassure them of product quality, longevity, pricing and availability.

That means that marketing to retailers means you need to blend B2B and B2C messaging seamlessly, and that requires experience in both fields.

A great public relations strategy will help you find the perfect mix. Some successful tactics include:

  • Earned media coverage in notable market publications showcasing your products and the personalities behind them.
  • Robust, sharable social media to build a fan following across all platforms.
  • Website copy that is goes a step beyond e-commerce and offers the additional information buyers need.
  • Smart blogging that doesn’t just boost SEO, but offers thought leadership on relevant topics.
  • Trade show presence, complete with media attention and thoughtfully crafted materials.

But in order to tailor these messages to buyers effectively, you need public relations partners who speak their language. My team at Orange Orchard knows the right notes to hit for retail buyers and the cruelty-free and vegan market space. Let us help you launch your handbag line onto the retail stage. The animals — and my closet — will thank you. Call us at (865) 977-1973 or contact Orange Orchard online.