Levi Strauss Restores Canadian Online Marketing

Levi Strauss & Co. will have an Internet presence in Canada nearly two years after the troubled denim maker abandoned its e-commerce venture in that market.

A new Canadian component on the flagship www.levi.com site will debut Nov. 23. Created by interactive agency Nine Dots, Richmond Hill, Ontario, the site will serve as a portal to drive traffic to Canadian retail sites that sell Levi products.

The decision to restore online marketing comes in the wake of Levi's dwindling share in a Canadian jeans market fiercely contested by brands like Diesel, Gap, Tommy, CK, Wrangler, Cherokee, Blue Notes and Nevada.

“The Canadian Jeans market is a highly fragmented market. The top 10 brands account for less than 50 percent share,” said Paul Lewis, director of account and business development at Nine Dots. “Levi's has faced a shrinking share of a shrinking market, thus the focus on revitalizing the brand with youth.”

A wholly owned subsidiary of San Francisco parent Levi Strauss & Co., the Richmond Hill, Ontario, arm manufactures and markets jeans and casual wear under the Levi's and Dockers labels.

Repeated shifts in marketing direction cost the 151-year-old Levi Strauss the loyalty of two key markets — ages 12 to 17 and 18 to 24.

“Levi's has been perceived as your parents' jeans and despite a lot of the new products and styles, Levi's engineered jeans and super low jeans, today's youth really don't associate Levi's as having the leading edge in styling,” Lewis said.

Nine Dots has not only designed and created the Canadian element of levi.com, but will also maintain it. In addition, the site will be integrated with Levi Strauss & Co. (Canada) Inc. advertising and public relations.

Six agencies pitched for Levi Strauss' Canada business. Names were not disclosed nor was the budget.

“We initially looked at the project as the pickup of U.S. assets, but we ended up creating a Canadian Web site that really addresses the youth market here,” Lewis said.

The new Canadian component of levi.com is expected to revitalize the brand in one of the most wired markets worldwide. Certain features will be similar to the U.S. component — an extensive product catalog and links to retailers.

But a key marketing tool will be special promotions and contests to drive traffic to stores. The Canadian component of levi.com will launch with an instant-win promotion. Once a database is built, Levi Strauss will communicate directly with its customers.

“Part of the idea behind the promotion is to tie in the [levi.com] tag line, 'Make them your own,' ” Lewis said. “So we're looking for some stories, people's experiences in your Levi's.”

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