DTC brand Mack Weldon proves a good fit for consumers living through the pandemic

Discussion
Photos: Mack Weldon/Facebook
Oct 28, 2020

While many apparel retailers were rattled by the novel coronavirus pandemic, direct-to-consumer men’s essentials brand Mack Weldon experienced an unexpected tailwind after the initial shock of the first two weeks of pandemic disruption. Since then, the brand has consistently found ways to optimize its positioning and connect with consumers.


In a BrainTrust Live
session earlier this week, RetailWire editor-in-chief George Anderson spoke with Mack Weldon founder and CEO Brian Berger about how the brand has continued to meet the needs of its loyal customers and attract large numbers of new ones since the pandemic hit. In terms of marketing, this came down to finding the appropriate tone.

“Not everybody is having the same experience,” said Mr. Berger. “It’s really important to meet people where they are and not be so self-interested as our brand might be during normal times. We have definitely adjusted the tone of our marketing … where we typically would be very chest thumping about how awesome our product is … it’s really more a message around meeting the customer where they are and how can our product help make them more comfortable while they’re in an environment that is inherently uncomfortable.”

The messaging, and the product itself, has resonated with an audience both seeking comfort and spending a lot of time at home. Mack Weldon’s Ace sweatpants line, for instance, has experienced a 200 percent year-over-year increase. Mr. Berger considers the line of comfortable yet fashionable sweatpants to be one of the brand’s “hero” products with the ability to bring in new loyal customers.

The pandemic also inspired Mack Weldon to move into masks, specifically with a type of antimicrobial fiber the company had already been using in t-shirts and underwear that seemed relevant to the hygiene concerns of the mask-wearing public.

Despite Mack Weldon’s product selection and e-commerce-centricity setting them up inherently for pandemic success, Mr. Berger sees potential concerns for the holiday season, most notably hiccups in on-time fulfillment given the potential impact of COVID-19 on mail and logistics.

“What we’re doing to mitigate that is encouraging people to not leave it to the last minute this year really to make sure that they shop early [to] take the stress out of it,” said Mr. Berger.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What attributes have set non-essential retailers and DTC brands that have been successful during the pandemic apart from those that have struggled? What do you think of Mack Weldon’s less “self-interested” approach to marketing during the pandemic?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"Crafting messaging by analyzing, and combining, fundamental human, cultural, and brand truths will break through — and sell (DTC or not)."
"It really comes back to Aristotle’s rhetorical triangle, doesn’t it? Right speaker (ethos), right message (logos), right audience (pathos), and right time (kairos)."
"Kudos to Mack Weldon for being able to pivot successfully."

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7 Comments on "DTC brand Mack Weldon proves a good fit for consumers living through the pandemic"


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Richard Hernandez
BrainTrust
Richard Hernandez
Director, Main Street Markets
11 months 20 days ago

I like Mack Weldon products. I have for a while. I hear their commercials a lot more these days, and I guess that makes sense. I guess I take essentials like sweatpants, underwear, and undershirts for granted, and I like that Mack Weldon reminds me they are essential but also about their quality. It’s smart and makes me want to purchase.

Michael La Kier
BrainTrust

DTC brands offering comfortable alternatives, and useful options, for stay-at-home times will resonate. Brands that tap into the social consciousness of our society have long been successful — think about the following:

  • “Rosie the Riveter” during World War II (patriotism in war time);
  • “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke” in the early 1970s (coming together);
  • Apple’s “1984” Mac Intro (personal freedom).

Crafting messaging by analyzing – and combining – fundamental human, cultural, and brand truths will break through — and sell (DTC or not).

Gary Sankary
BrainTrust

One common attribute that is apparent about successful retailers during the pandemic is speed. Organizations that are nimble and able to adapt to changing consumer buying patterns and demand signals have been able to find success. Kudos to Mack Weldon for being able to pivot successfully.

The pandemic has compressed adoption cycles for consumers in digital and touch free commerce. Retailers who responded have been rewarded. Retailers who have stuck to a business-as-usual strategy, treating the pandemic as something that will pass so we can get back to normal — they are struggling.

Heidi Sax
BrainTrust

It really comes back to Aristotle’s rhetorical triangle, doesn’t it? Right speaker (ethos), right message (logos), right audience (pathos), and right time (kairos). Brands that could quickly pivot to show they could be trusted to provide useful or valuable products for pandemic living, in a tone that appealed to their unique consumers, won. This meant zooming out to understand what their audience needed to have, hear, see, and feel in COVID-19 times and being less “self-interested.” No assumptions allowed.

Natalie Walkley
BrainTrust

Empathy-based marketing is absolutely vital. Smart marketers have been saying this for years, but the pandemic really made it more win-lose.

Rachelle King
BrainTrust

When your product can unlock your brand promise, you will always have a winner. Meeting consumers where they are: making an uncomfortable situation more comfortable and being light-heartedly candid about how consumers are using your product stirs emotions and breaks the relatability barrier rather quickly. Smart strategy by Berger.

The risk here is to push too hard to be relatable and then lose authenticity. Mack Weldon holds up but this is a fine line to be mindful of for brands considering this kind of approach.

zeze@beam.city
Guest

The less “self-interested” approach shows customers empathy — a trait sorely missing in public discourse, and therefore quite welcome from brands. It’s clear to me that comfort products can do pretty well in the current social zeitgeist — I’ve personally bought a slew of new sweat pants this year.

What set’s Mack Weldon and others that are succeeding apart is a willingness to try new things by leaning into customer-centricity. When you show you care (masks), offer them something they want (to feel better) and have a message the aligns with their aspiration (comfort) — You win.

Sometimes by 200%.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"Crafting messaging by analyzing, and combining, fundamental human, cultural, and brand truths will break through — and sell (DTC or not)."
"It really comes back to Aristotle’s rhetorical triangle, doesn’t it? Right speaker (ethos), right message (logos), right audience (pathos), and right time (kairos)."
"Kudos to Mack Weldon for being able to pivot successfully."

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