Bugaboo: sincere engagement with cotton candy and popcorn

Posted by | April 09, 2014 | Engagement | No Comments

Bugaboo is sometimes seen as the Rolls Royce among strollers. This Dutch company has grown to be a world-wide player, with its supporting role in Sex and the City as its breakthrough on the international market. Bugaboo has not just grown in street presence: on social media, the company has matured as well. How did Bugaboo do this? In an interview, Martijn Ros, digital marketing manager, Lokke van der Wal, digital marketeer at Bugaboo, and I have analysed the brand’s social media strategy and its results. Read on to find out what paid media did for Bugaboo, and how Bugaboo sees its online future.

Image construction with paid media

For the past three years, Bugaboo has been deeply committed to constructing an online presence. Martijn: “We’ve really done all that with a grass-roots approach, and never invested large budgets in paid media. We’ve always counted on organic growth, based on sincere engagement with our customers. Our focus was on the platforms they use most often.”

Martijn and Lokke both notice that Facebook has adapted its corporate strategy in the last few years. Among other things, this shows in the only limited reach Facebook now allows. This is a major reason for Bugaboo to switch to a large online media buy-campagne: “This is the first time we intensively use paid media: these have always been our last point of call, after our own channels and PR. Our current campagne is a fully developed online strategy, which uses Google-ads, Facebook-campagnes, and everything in between.”


Bugaboo is keen to reach new audiences, most specifically current customers who already own Bugaboo products but are not yet connected to the brand on social media. Lokke says Bugaboo does not aim for new likes in particular, but she can see a clear rise of them anyway: “In a short period of time, our fan base has grown through paid media, as we can clearly see in growth stats on our social media dashboard. We now suddenly reach a new audience on Facebook — fantastic! When we connected with our 100,000th fan, we celebrated with popcorn and cotton candy!”

Bugaboo has also noticed the major growth of Instagram, and Martijn thinks this is an important trend for Bugaboo: “With Instagram’s increasing number of users, it becomes a more important channel for us as well — after all, our audience decides! Currently, a product launch can reach more users on Instagram than on Facebook.” However, Facebook remains important. Martijn: “Facebook still is our biggest touchstone, with 100k fans. We will continue to develop that community.”


Webcare first

Before starting to construct an online presence, your webcare should be in proper order. That’s what Bugaboo did as well. “We firsted started to use Facebook as a serious service channel — and we still do. But now we target ‘fun’ customers as well. I guess we were typically Dutch in that way: first making sure that our webcare is top notch, before trying to engage fans with the brand.”

In hindsight, Martijn thinks Bugaboo has been too modest in the first eighteen months. He continues: “Facebook can be tremendously important for your brand. That’s why you really have to use all feedback you get via that channel. For instance, we’ve noticed that each answer from us sparks three questions from customers. Who’ll answer these questions when you reach 200k fans?” Their careful approach made Bugaboo have a relatively low profile on social media. “But now we’ve passed this stage, we tune in and engage our fans all the time. While our most devoted fans keep testing our products, we now use Facebook feedback from all our fans for new color lines, for instance.”

A dynamic department

Good webcare shows its advantages when people talk about your brand. Martijn: “Committed fans like to talk with us and about us.” The social dashboard shows that there’s recently been only little negative feedback. The service department’s ‘social angels’ are in charge of webcare. “”They know how to handle negative feedback. Most customers don’t even need a solution, they just want to be heared. We then lend our ear. The webcare department is very dynamic, you can feel that as soon as you get there”, says Martijn.

Bugaboo is wise to prepare itself for questions and feedback. The other day, Bugaboo was startled by a video in which a horror fake-baby scared people from its Bugaboo stroller. Some employees were shocked and feared brand damage. But most were amused, says Lokke: “Internally, we agreed to react lightly. Users pointed out the video, yet most of them kept their cool, just like us. We responded cheerfully to all feedback and questions. The people who made this clip didn’t think ‘we want to target Bugaboo’. They just wanted to play a prank and needed a sturdy stroller. And that need brings you to Bugaboo, of course!”

Martijn: “That clip attracted over 44 million views in the end. One of our competitors even tried to follow up on its succes. Too bad their attempt was not so comical.”

A bold love-brand

Besides service, Bugaboo offers its fans a platform for expression on social media. And Bugaboo enjoys a lot of user-generated content: worldwide fans love to show off the features of their Bugaboo stroller, which they take anywhere. What a luxury position for the brand!

Lokke: “User-generated content generates a lot of likes from the community. We want to offer our fans a platform, and often (re)share their photos in the community as part of our content mix. To implement this structurally, we are developing platforms that automatically show photos from all social channels. When people share a photo with our hashtags, it’s pushed through. This way, we can collect photos from our fans — they don’t have to go to a particular website to upload a photo anymore.”

Product launches generate many reactions as well. “This month, we could see that an announcement for our Refresh Recolor-products had a 12% click-through rate. That’s a sure run for our products!” Bugaboo defines itself by being just a bit bold at times, by surprising fans with new products. Lokke: “Find a balance between what fans expect from you, and what will surprise them. It surely works!”

“No slick social media brand”

“We always aim to provide useful answers to questions. We don’t hunt for a webcare award for answering any question within ten minutes. Many brands focus on answering fast, but we prefer focusing on providing actual service. Think from your customer’s perspective. We can’t decide how customers want to get in touch. If ever we wouldn’t get emails anymore, we would of course stop using email to communicate. But if customers would, for instance, just show up on our doorstep to talk to us, that’s fine as well, we would listen. They decide!”

“If there’s a problem with our products, we don’t just send customers back to their retailer. It’s our product, after all. But sometimes, the retailer can be the best point of call, because they’re across the street and have our products in stock. In such cases, we recommend our customers to go there — not because we don’t want to help them, but because the customer can best be helped that way.”

Martijn thinks Bugaboo can still develop its professional and functional approach. Because Bugaboo aims to become more visible in digital media in general, they currently develop apps and a new website, which will be much more minimalist and functional than the current one.

Lokke: “Besides this, we can improve online service by reacting more quickly — as long as the quality of our responses remains top-notch. We also want to analyse the customers’ steps in the buying process better, to be able to even better understand where their questions come from. And of course, we want to stick to our current strategy, because it’s real and sincere. We look for relevant content for our customers. We’ll never aim to become the latest slick social media brand, instead we’ll aim to remain the best in our field.”

Credits: This interview was originally written in Dutch by Florence Meesters and published on Marketingfacts [Dutch].

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