Friday, 18 December 2009

Real Business #1 - Crazy Bags

Real Business is a series of posts that analyses the marketing opportunities and challenges of real businesses in the South East. The articles are also appearing in The Courier.

Launched in 2000, Crazy Bags is one of the UK’s leading providers of eco, carrier and promotional bags. The company was established in Southampton and moved to Crowborough two years ago. Now a £2 million turnover company, Crazy Bags has recently relocated to stunning offices within Eridge Park near Tunbridge Wells.

“The reusable bag has become embedded in the consumer psyche and brands are now looking for innovative, fashionable and practical bags to help boost their visibility and lengthen the life of their marketing campaigns,” said MD, Andy Steavenson.

The office in Eridge is the company’s head office – but all the warehousing is now based in Nottingham, where thousands of eco-bags are stored ready for printing. This allows Crazy Bags to meet the very tight deadlines of the promotional industry. Orders can be filled within seven to ten days, rather than the industry norm of eight to ten weeks.

Crazy Bags has worked with myriad customers over the years – including: Shell, Coca-Cola, BP, Sony, Sunseeker, Glastonbury Festival and Rolls-Royce: it has recently also signed deals with fashion store Boden and hair stylists Toni & Guy.

The company is one of the UK’s only providers of Fair Trade accredited bags and it is also a member of The Supplier Ethical Data Exchange (Sedex) – a membership organisation for businesses committed to continuous improvement of the ethical performance of their supply chains.

With eco-bags now prevalent in supermarkets across the UK, the next step is building that momentum on the High Street – and Crazy Bags is already talking to a number of retailers and department stores.

“It would be wonderful to have a crystal ball and find out how the eco-bag market will evolve,” said Andy.

In the meantime, Andy is delighted with the company’s new offices in Eridge Park where 12 people are located, with room for expansion. However, he admits that the company isn’t well-known locally – something he intends to change.

The Marketing Eye says:

The business has two key selling points which should be accentuated in its marketing: the short delivery times and the ethical production. In the current climate, businesses are making decisions to undertake promotional activity later and later, so the ability to supply at short notice, and meet corporate social responsibility standards, will help win business that might otherwise have been lost. There is also an opportunity to charge a premium for being able to deliver what the competitors cannot.

The business has a diverse customer base and the move into events, such as the Glastonbury Festival, shows good innovation by the management team. There should be a constant search for new products and new markets. The product is currently fashionable and markets that would not have been receptive in the past could be receptive now. Toni and Guy is a good example of this and there should be more. Trade shows provide a ready market and there is a growing trend for towns and villages to produce community bags that are handed out by the local retailers.

The crystal ball that Andy is looking for can be created by market research. A mix of qualitative and quantitative research is required and a specialist market research company will be able to advise on the best methods to use.

The company’s local profile could be raised with a well chosen sponsorship. I would also recommend that the senior management team immerses itself in the local business networks: the recently formed Royal Tunbridge Wells Lunch Club is specifically designed for businesses of Crazy Bags’ size.

An opening event would create both a PR story and an opportunity to bring a number of local businesses and suppliers together. A direct marketing campaign using one-off bags specifically created for the prospect name would provide a graphic illustration of how the product could work for them.

With thanks to freelance journalist Angela Ward who is interviewing the businesses featured in these posts.