Can an Instagram-born luggage brand have staying power?
Founded in February 2016, Away has sold more than 500,000 suitcases to date, achieved profitability within two years and raised $81 million in two funding rounds. The luggage brand’s quick success is being largely attributed to Instagram.
The brand has established a roving tribe of traveling Instagrammers that earn free luggage and other items for their posts. The co-founders admit to capitalizing on Millennials’ zest for experiences and the status symbol afforded from posting while traveling.
In an interview with Eater, Jen Rubio, co-founder, president and chief brand officer, said, “A few years ago, if you had said that people would be taking photos outside of airports, or with their suitcases, that would’ve been really weird. We launched, kind of at the time when that was starting to happen, and part of it was people were traveling a lot more, millennials are traveling a lot more, and we were the bag that they wanted in those photos.”
Away’s $225 minimal, hard-shell carry-on suitcase with phone-charging capabilities fills a niche between flimsy suitcases under $100 and luxury bags that fetch prices near $1,000.
What sets Away apart is the brand’s emphasis on storytelling that taps into the romanticism and sophistication of travel. In addition to Instagram posts, travel content includes a quarterly magazine and podcast. Ms. Rubio said in a press release on a new round of funding in June, “Away launched with the underlying belief that we can change the way people travel by inspiring people to do it more, and by making it even easier.”
The funding will support the opening of six stores by the end of 2018 in addition to the brand’s current New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Austin locations, a move into bigger headquarters, product extensions and social media investments.
Longer term, Away sees itself as a lifestyle travel brand with opportunities to expand into apparel, skincare and even possibly hotels and airlines. Extensions already include carryalls, backpacks, toiletry bags and garment bags. Steph Korey, co-founder and CEO, told Adweek, “Our goal is to create the one perfect version of everything people need to travel more seamlessly.”
- Away Raises $50 Million, Announces it Reached Profitability in Under Two Years – Away/PRNewswire
- Away’s Jen Rubio on Building a Brand Beyond a Suitcase – Eater
- How Away Shook Up the Sleepy Luggage Market With a Simple, Colorful Carry-On – Adweek
- Up, up and Away: Inside the rise of a direct-to-consumer darling – Retail Dive
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What do you think is the biggest factor behind Away’s quick success and take on luggage selling? What will the company need to do to reach its next level of growth?