so i told you about the launch of the new bugaboo in amsterdam which was really nice and there i had the chance to have an interview with chief marketing officer madeleen klaasen. i am actually really happy i had that interview with her because she is such a cool woman and i really enjoyed talking to her and finding out more about her and also bugaboo. i feel like i really got a good sence of the spirit of bugaboo and i really like it!
meet madeleen klaasen:
hi madeleen! you are the chief marketing officer of bugaboo but also decisive responsible for the fashion collaborations-such as missoni-and you work very close with the design department of bugaboo. to get a sence of your fashion preference, can you name three celebrities that are fashion icons to you?
m: yeah! ok, i’m not that young anymore so i have to say i am still a madonna fan, she’s really cool. scarlet johannson i like, as an actress, but she doesn’t have a child yet so i’m really hoping for her to get pregnant because i really like her. and i also love gwen stefanie! we even worked on some customized bugaboos with her, so she send her own fabric and we made some special ones for her.
so that would also kinda describe your style?
m: yeah, i like to wear a lot of black. i like the rock and roll style. thats what i like.
tell me about the fashion collabo with missoni. why missoni?
m: what we were looking for-when you do something together you really want a nice story behind it and it should be recognizable, and i love a lot of other fashion brands, don’t get me wrong, but missoni is so recognizable in the prints they do and also the whole story about the fabrics they use and thats what we thought is really nice. and it’s such a nice story behind because its a family business and we are kinda of a family business as well, that’s how it feels, and its warm bright colours so we were also looking for some really nice prints so we really felt a good fit to have a nice story with it. but of course a lot of others are cool, too!
do you have a dream designer you would want to work with?
m: chanel! (laughing) i love chanel!
can we hope for a new fashion collabo? is there already a name to tell?
m: there is but i can’t tell you anything yet. soon! i think you will hear it in about a month or so.
ok. can you tell me what’s the most important thing for you in your job?
m: do you mean personally or…
m: as a marketer or as a person?
for you as a person.
m: ok, the most important thing is that i feel energy. and positivity. so if you have the right people and the the right energy…yeah, energy is to me the most important thing.
nice. and what are you the most proud of with the product bugaboo?
m: i’m the most proud of….its the dedication. cause sometimes its easy to tell its former function integrated and that we want the unexpected and expected combined in the product but i am a lot in the fashion and design meetings and this dedication if it looks nice but doesn’t function then we say no, we have to go back, and if it functions very well but we can not make it look nice then we are not doing it….you know sometimes you see everyone turning pale again like oh nooo but its that dedication that we will only do something if it feels right and that’s sometimes easier said then done because everyone says “yeah, right” but it’s really happening in this company. those moments you feel like its going to be tough for some weeks but you know in the end the outcome will be much better. its like when max came out with the first one and other people, like myself, already made some money but he had five years of believing, really believing in his concept, and five years keep on going and thats what i’m really most proud of-that dedication.
so you won the 2008 european cmo award (btw in germany). when that happened were you like “yeah, i deserve that!” or was it a big surprise to you?
m: well i´m not the kind of person that needs approval, cause as i said before to me it’s more important that you get the right energy from it, but it was kind of…it was nice i have to say. because the reasons why i got it for were all the reasons we did it for. so i have to say it was really nice.
when one reads about you one thing shines out very clear-that bugaboo is a matter of heart for you-
m: yeah, yes!
m: its a combination of things. i think its also part of your own character, you know, if i go for something i go all the way, i could never do marketing for financial reasons, you really have to feel connected with it. then working with max is amazing, we are totally different personalities, but its really complementing each other and respecting and what i like about max and aernout (aeronaut dijkstra-hellinga designer of bugaboo), they are so real and no egos, it really feels authentic and you can still have a lot of disagreement but if you feel the repect it doesn’t matter. and you can be yourself.
so in a way you can keep it real by working with bugaboo…?
m: yeah, yeah, definately!
if you had to be an animal, which one and why?
m: mhm, that´s a good one. hum…..yeah, i like the cheetah and the panther but i don’t know why….its maybe the elegant movement, the whole way of the movement, its very strong. and it looks very beautiful.
nowadays you can see a lot of bugaboo copies. do you feel honored by them or do they bother you?
m: no, its more honor. it actually helps because we were the first ones that were very technical which is nice to be the only one and blablabla but we also know if you are very innovative, which we are, people have to get used to it and if you are entering countries where people aren’t used to it yet it helps if there are other strollers in the market that are also about technology because then the consumers mind sets, they are accepting technology better. i never look at competition in that way, i believe that every company should have strong values and make choices from that, you know, and thats what we do.
and if you get copied it also shows how great you are.
m: yes, so i’m not bothered by it. it just sometimes makes me wonder when i look at it like how can people, because i like to do things in a authentic way, so how can people love making business of copying. but thats in general.
so what marketing strategies do you consider most successful for bugaboo? and how much influence do the celebrities have on the image of bugaboo? because you see a lot of celebrities with bugaboo and not to forget the sex in the city scene…
m: well from the beginning, when we started the power is still the product, so the marketing is easy because the product is kinda selling itself. but then of course when it hits the market one of the most successful strategies is the word of mouth. ideally we don’t want to tell the costumer how great it is i want one customer to tell the other how great it is so that’s what we are working on, trying to see how can we use social media to do that. so we have an “ask an owner” application on our facebook-so don’t ask us, ask an owner. so social media is really helping to facilitate the word of mouth. so thats where are focus is going to be. then the other thing from a marketing strategy is that the pr-agencies really helped, so not basic advertising-thats what we did in the past-but pr-agencies to make sure you get the right stories and to get the celebrities with the special edition in the elle magazine. so pr-agencies are crucial for us. and then of course when we do a campaign we want to have iconic images. and of course the retail marketing is very crucial cause our retailers are really important to explain it, so those are the main elements but for the future its specifically more the social media, how can we use social media to facilitate the word of mouth.
but you are right the celebrity strategy really helped. we said in one way it is very important to always be about innovation but on the other hand we want to be a brand in balance. so we want to be exclusive without exclusion, being functional but also in style. so we want to tell the functional story at retail or our webside but we also want to be seen that gwen stefani is pushing the stroller because it really helps each other. so we really want to try to use that in the right way, that one can not live with out the other-if its not performance then the style makes no sence. for example gwyneth paltrow uses the bugaboo for six years, so the celebrities are very loyal to us. that says something about the function. so yeah, its one of the strategies we use as well.
also the special editions with fashion brands helped to stay exclusive and to create excitement but its always in balance with the innovation and the well performing. it always should be in the right mix.
bugaboo stands for innovation. nowadays people more and more get an awareness about their environment. does that influence bugaboo? for example use recycled material or organic fabrics…?
m: oh yes, actually at the moment we are working on it. again here, i think you always need to define as a company for yourself what does innovation mean to bugaboo, what does sustainability mean to bugaboo so we are really defining it at the moment and of course we are already integrating it in our product design. on the other hand we have a product that was designed twelve years ago and it´s still relevant in the market, other companies come out every year with a new model, so we say we provide already a little bit of sustainable mindset but now the next level is how can we integrate exactly what you said reduce in the production the waste, use different fabrics but thats something that is already for a year in the whole design process. we have our own factory, max made from the beginning the right choices, so we have the basic and now we really need to look further not only the product itself but to get the whole supply change. you know you can make a very sustainable product but if you have to fly it in the whole saving of energy is gone. so we are in the middle of “how can we really make a difference” and put it more like not as a new project but more as a part of our business.
so it does matter to you?
m: totally, yeah! and i have to say all of our designers and engineers already have that mindset so thats really good.
if you could do anything in the world, what would that be?
m: for myself or for the world?
you as personality, what would that be?
m: thats a interesting question. theres is so much i would like to do but that one thing? of course you could do bigger things like world peace or whatever but i always like to keep it close to myself…
….and realistic maybe?
m: yes, realistic. i think that people are sometimes so mean to each other so i really try to….you know everyday i think about how people can be nice to each other, could be small things so…..ya, i think people can be a little nicer to each other, i’m not sure if that’s the answer….if the people would respect each other more there wouldn´t be so much awful and drama, i think it’s really coming down to respect and just be nice to each other!!
so maybe sprinkle a little “be nice” powder on peoples head?
m: yeah, definately!
one last question: how will a stroller look like in 50 years ahead? futuristically run by a remote control?
m: i think expect the unexpected. i think people will still want to go from a to b so you will still kind of see the bugaboo look but what i really like is when its sustainable, so some of the materials can grow back into the ground and others are so strong they will always stay there but you can use them in other mobility products so you can upscale them, not down but up so i really believe in this whole sustainable feeling in 50 years- i don’t see robots or remote controls, no.
thank you so much for the interview madeleen!