The Joy of ‘Dex: Interview with Morphsuits
Recent costume phenomenon Morphsuits have gained a loyal and growing fan base. New Media Knowledge caught up with one of the co-founders to learn more about how the company has used solely social media to generate awareness and growth. By Chris Lee.
By Chris Lee
Many companies aim to build social media strategies which directly lead to sales, but few succeed in achieving solid results. Companies such as t-shirt manufacturer Threadless market solely via social media and sell direct via Facebook and its own website. Other major brands such as coffee giant Starbucks use social media to offer vouchers to fans to use in its stores.
One British company, Morphsuits, also uses social media word-of-mouth as its sole marketing strategy. Morphsuits are a recent costume phenomenon. They are all-in-one spandex suits that cover the whole body from head to toe. Users can breathe through them, see through them drink through them, but users remain unidentifiable. They have become popular outfits at festivals, parties and stag dos, for example, and have generated something of a cult following since its foundation in 2009.
More than half a million Morphsuits have been sold, its notoriety triggered by eight fans wearing Morphsuits at the 2009 British and Irish Lions tour of South Africa received global exposure for the company. Morphsuits have also been prominent at the 2011 Rugby World Cup.
The company started marketing via Facebook as its key channel to market. By mid-2010 the Facebook page had around 1,000 fans, but by the end of 2010 that had more than 700,000 and was turning over £4.4 million.
Morphsuits does not have a marketing department. Instead, its co-founder Fraser Smeaton describes the company’s marketing strategy as “scrum marketing” by which Morphsuits’ online fans dictate the strategy of the company. It is Morphsuits’ very close relationship with its growing fan base which Smeaton credits with helping it gain traction, and it is those fans who design the suits, suggest outlets for sale and arrange competitions.
"Your fans are an invaluable asset. Keep them engaged and active,” Smeaton advised. “Once you have built your community don't let it stagnate. The valuable sharing happens when people engage because that is what creates stories on news feeds and re-tweets.”
Morphsuits’ anonymity – users’ faces are completely hidden – is perfect for Facebook. Morphsuit wearers feel confident to upload their photos and videos to Facebook – a key fulcrum of successful social media - to which the company interacts.
Smeaton continued: “The social community that you have built are the people that really care about your brand or product, so listen to them to get hints on product development, customer service and what competitors are doing. This is all free and should not be wasted. Your fans don't need to be paid to help; often recognition is enough, although the odd freebie never hurts."
In October 2011, Morphsuits had nearly 800,000 fans and a turnover of £10.5 million. Morphsuits’ social media marketing has helped lead to a deal with a major pan-US retailer.