The Tools of Engagement

This week I was invited to a spring preview by Montreal-based public relations firm NATA PR. Previews are opportunities for media and bloggers to meet a firm’s clients and their products for the upcoming season. It’s where I discovered Icebreaker®.
Wearing my new merino wool Icebreaker shirt
Icebreaker is a line of active lifestyle clothing made in New Zealand from merino wool. I know what you’re thinking already, wool?! That’s right. Evidently the merino is a tough breed of sheep whose fleece is built for extremes – breathable in summer, insulating in winter, yet exceptionally soft and lightweight. Icebreaker turns this formidable fiber into a system of ultra-comfortable layers for humans. Soft and breathable with no itch or no odor makes Icebreaker perfect for high performance lifestyle. Outdoor, fitness, running, travel – they have you covered. But they didn’t stop there. They even make underwear. The New York Times called it “wool with sex appeal.”
Icebreaker was created in 1994 by a 24-year-old marketing graduate. Looking through the website it’s no surprise they have strong roots in marketing. The brand’s story is thorough and told with witty text, great imagery and videos detailing everything from their evolution to their ethics.  
But this, this really got me:
Icebreaker has created one of the most clever customer engagement tools I’ve seen. Customers can trace the barcode — or “baacode” — of their item back to the actual sheep that produced it. They can see the living conditions of the animal, meet the farmers and learn more about the area New Zealand where they live, e.g,:

“Branch Creek is nestled on the west side of the Cardrona Valley, a skiing and snowboarding haven that served as a location for filming of Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.”

Not just marketing, smart marketing. The more the customer reads, the more they are invested in the product. (Of course, it helps to have a great manufacturing story in the first place.) The point is when you’re a brand competing against Gap and Joe Fresh to outfit the yoga or running enthusiast, you need something compelling to get the customer’s attention, because you are likely to lose over price.

Go with what you’re great at, that’s what I say.