Dealerscope interviews Deena Ghazarian, Global Sales VP at KNOMO London.
Dealerscope: KNOMO is a U.K.-based travel bag and accessories company that markets fashion, utility high quality and high tech as the brand’s principal attributes. Can you please explain the company name and meaning in the context of the products it represents?
Deena Ghazarian, Global Sales VP, KNOMO: KNOMO stands for Knowledge and Mobility merged together. So when the company started in 2004, they wanted a company that allowed you to be “smart” and mobile at the same time.
What’s interesting to me is that there’s a huge “digital nomad” trend right now – and it’s KNOMO is almost the start of the word “nomad” and where it can go! We’re getting this unbelievable play, based on how we’re going to build out our marketing campaign. We have a fantastic base of partnerships with celebrities, and through our consumers, who love our brand. And it all fits in with the “digital nomad” play.
There’s a huge upswell of consumers identified as a “digital nomad” and that consumer is somebody who either, in most cases, is entrepreneurial or creative. The data shows that by 2022, 60 percent of the workforce will work outside of the home. This consumer wants to have the ability to work remotely in a way that will motivate them to be creative and successful and entrepreneurial – but they need the right accessories behind them to let them do that. And if you look at what’s out there, there’s not a lot that exists. There’s pieces of it, but not [an ecosystem]. Another thing we love about this digital nomad is that they’re not really defined by age or gender or job, but more by their sense of adventure, which allows them to be creative. So what’s fantastic is most Millennials will adapt to this factor – this “can do” attitude of following your dreams, in any job.
DS: The line includes “smart tech” accessories besides bags and cases, like power banks, adapters and RFID signal-blocker pockets. How do these two distinct product elements meld into a total brand presentation?
Ghazarian: If you look at what’s going on with what the consumer’s demanding, they’re looking for something that’s beautifully made, has the aesthetics. And if it’s not the right materials or the right look, they don’t want it against their bodies, or representing them. KNOMO has the ability to present something stylish and modern and that would allow that look from the outside. But then the frustration is when you go on the inside, with any other company that’s out there that has beautiful and stylish stuff, it’s not organized – they don’t understand the ecosystem you need in order to be on the go. What KNOMO has done a really good job of is how to make the most of technology and balance it into your daily routine – give you that organization, and give you what I call “the smarts.” When I present this on a sell-in/sell-through perspective, I say, ‘You’ve got this beautiful bag on the outside that’s probably one of the smartest bags on the inside.’ It allows you that ability to have that daily routine possible and integrated with technology in keeping you fun, but professional at the same time.
DS: Regarding distribution, you’ve mentioned that you’re due to be sold through several prominent retailers. They include: Electronics Expo, Electronic Express, Macy’s, Huppin’s, HSN, BrandsMart, Anthropologie, Amazon Exclusive, Hudson News, and BluWire. Will you be adding other distribution?
Ghazarian: There are a bunch of other dealers who are coming down the pike within the next 90 days and we’ll probably triple that list.
Because of the whole digital nomad message and because we’re probably the first company to bring light to what the problem is for that consumer, and helping them solve it with products and the right execution at retail, a lot of dealers are rallying around us. They see the importance of it, they see what’s going to happen over the next six to eight years with this consumer, yet it’s done so “by silo” right now, versus where we’re coming from now, with this complete ecosystem. We’re one of the first that’s looked at it from that perspective. The ecosystem approach for us is critical – if not, we’re just another bag. We’re in the business of selling what I’d call beautiful bags that are “smart” on the inside. The accessories that go with it are because nobody makes slim, beautiful accessories that fit into product like this.For example, my favorite product that we make now is the worldwide travel adaptor that’s the size of a credit card, looking at it face on, and it’s got the ability for you to plug in, with 16 different options, in 50 countries. The current worldwide travel adaptor that most everyone makes is that big “fist.” But where do you put that? Some of the stuff that’s made is like that, so we just [design] it ourselves.
DS: How do you help retailers to merchandise the products so that their differentiation stands out, and so they’re merchandised as a complete ecosystem?
Ghazarian: All of our merchandising, both in-store and online, is focused on the inside of the bag – a lot of the visual – how you’d actually set up the bag on the inside. If you have the bag sitting there, there would be a Plexiglas that would show how the inside would lay out – as though you were taking an X-ray through the bag. All our imagery emphasizes that. As we move it forward to training, we teach by asking [trainees] to use intuitive thought processes to organize a bag the best, and then we award store managers and their teams on who does the best presentation. One of our retailers did a full mannequin challenge around the whole training. They literally set them up in different spots around the store. It stimulates creative thinking about how they can present the products on the floor. We also do a lot of online business, without associates. But our video and still imagery of the outside and inside of the bags is spectacular.
DS: Are you at CES and if so, what will the focus be? What other product categories are on the developmental docket for the future in complementary categories?
Ghazarian: One big topics at CES at our suite for us will be the “drop and go” concept. It’s exciting to me, because it is my true problem. I walk into a meeting and you set your phone aside, or tuck it away, and the battery is trickling down, and when the meeting is done, you have a 20 percent charge. So what we’re doing is putting a pocket on the outside of the bag that will have wireless charging capability; slide the phone into that pocket and it will wirelessly charge. It’s iOS today, and we’ll eventually move toward the Android system. However, we also have a great relationship with Microsoft so a lot of our products cater to the Surface.