Barbour: A Lesson in Effective Online Marketing

Barbour is brand that is synonymous with the values of the British Countryside, described on it’s website as bringing ‘the qualities of wit, grit and glamour to its beautifully functional clothing.’ 

The Barbour story began in 1894, and today the 5th generation family-owned business remains in South Shields where it all began. The most iconic piece of apparel is the classic wax jacket, which has been redesigned many times over since its origin in 1910.

This begs the question as to how Barbour has managed to stay so successful over the past century, when so many other contemporaneous brands are now relics of the past?

What is apparent is that Barbour is using modern technology and various online platforms to promote the brand, whilst still remaining true to its core values of producing high-quality attire to be worn whilst exploring the countryside.

Instagram and Twitter: ‘Great Outdoors’ social media campaign

In late 2015, Barbour launched a global Instagram and Twitter campaign which aimed to encourage fans of the brand to explore their local surroundings.

Spearheading the campaign was a video which featured 2014 British Adventurer of the Year, Sean Conway (who is the only person crazy enough to complete a triathlon which saw him thrice travel the length of Britain).

The general public were also encouraged to share their own outdoor adventure photographs via Instagram or Twitter using the hashtag #HeritageOfAdventure. By participating in this campaign, fans were entered into a competition to win Barbour outfits from the latest collections – Great Coat and Arctic Expedition.

Facebook: SS15 Campaign 

Labelled as the ‘Seasonal Styler’, this campaign posed fans with a number of easy-to-answer questions about their fashion preferences and encouraged participation with an opportunity to win ‘A Classically British Barbour Weekend’, complete with food, luxury accommodation and outfits.

The campaign was successful and over 16,000 entries were collected. Not only did this expose Barbour’s summer range to a wider audience and consequently drive more traffic to the website, but it was also a chance for Barbour to capture tens of thousands of new e-mails and gather vital market research data.

Twitter: Collections Service/ Product Page

Barbour was the first UK brand to put a shop window on Twitter using the new Twitter Collections service that allows brands to showcase products, much like an e-commerce site. Visitors are not actually able to buy anything directly through Twitter but clicking on any product will take them to the purchase page on the company’s website.

Barbour began using this service ahead of the Rugby World Cup to show off its Land Rover rugby men’s collection which saw former England Rugby captain Lawrence Dallaglio modelling the collection.

Tumblr: #barbourpeople

Barbour People Tumblr Style
‘Barbour People’ | Tumblr

This is a ‘street style’ blog in which photographs of members of the public that are wearing Barbour apparel are uploaded with a short blurb about each individual underneath. This is a very popular format for many prominent fashion and lifestyle blogs and differs from many of the other Barbour campaigns as it predominantly features people in urban environments.

Whether it is the Outer Hebrides or Liverpool City Centre, Barbour has definitely optimised online marketing to its fullest whilst avoiding compromising on its ethos of adventure and exploration.

Online marketing is a contemporary phenomenon that moves at the speed of light. To keep up, you need a strong foundation with the judgment to think critically, act independently, and be relentlessly creative. Barbour have perfected this by ensuring that their fans are no longer simply passive consumers but are interacting with the brand as well.


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