20 May '20
Feed Presents: The Overland
The Overland makes "sustainable, versatile and cleverly designed cycling & adventure sport clothing"... and it seems like they have a lot of fun doing it.
The Overland were among the first people to sign up to Feed, as far back as the pre-beta version! What has caught my eye is just how good they are at engaging with their audience in a way that feels totally genuine. Their Instagram channel comes across as a bunch of people doing and posting about what they love... and the actual business of marketing and selling their products naturally flows from that (rather than the other way around).
As a result, they've been pretty successful in growing their audience. In fact, their progress has been incredibly consistent week-on-week. They have almost doubled their followers in ~5 months, and Feed's projections suggest they'll be on course to hit over 7k Instagram followers within a year if they keep it up.
I caught up with Jack Davey who looks after e-commerce and marketing at The Overland (he also happens to be the frontman of Karab) to chat about the company, digital marketing and the best approach for a brand wanting to grow a loyal following. I also learned a lot about their focus on sustainability and the environment... another reason (if you needed one) to check out their gear!
Hey Jack! Could you give us a little intro to The Overland?
Sure thing – so, The Overland is a range of clothing suited to a wide range of outdoor pursuits. The idea is to reduce the need for people to own a whole bunch of specialist kit for the various things they get up to, by making clothes that perform really well for all of them. 80 billion items of clothing – an uplift of 400% compared to 20 years ago – are produced every year. Those items of clothing are used 36% less, and the CO2 emissions from clothing manufacture is predicted to grow 1200% by 2050. Genuinely multi-purpose clothing will start to address this: gear that looks good enough to wear every day, with technical features that won’t compromise your gym session, your family camping trip, or your 4000km cycle tour.
You're part of Morvélo, how does The Overland sit in relation to its big brother?
The Overland began as a range within Morvélo, hence the leaning towards two-wheeled activities, but it quickly grew into its own thing. The same four people are behind the scenes, but the fresh start of a new brand is allowing us to try out a few approaches without the risks associated with suddenly altering the way an established brand has existed and alienating. Successful experiments will be transferred over to Morvélo, be it more sustainable fabric choices, production techniques that help recycling the product at the end of its life, or binning off the rather arbitrary concept of seasonal collections.
Also, at a more superficial level, The Overland has a much broader appeal than the traditional cycle sport offering from Morvélo. As much as we’ve been known for making performance kit, sponsoring pro teams, and so on, we’re all very firmly in the camp that cycling is transport first and sport second. Hopefully, The Overland will help convince more people to get in the saddle by making things that little bit easier or more comfortable, without contributing to the idea that to get on a bike you have to don some sort of special uniform.
We're big fans of your Instagram channel - it's really engaging even if you're not particularly into cycling, and doesn't come across as too sales-y. It feels like The Overland is run by people who genuinely love what they do. What's your approach in general with content?
To be honest, you’ve pretty much nailed it in the question there. We’re pretty transparent and honest when it comes to the social feeds, and the filter is “if I find this interesting, someone else probably will too”. I think the appeal of The Overland is as much in our approach to business as it is the products, so it’s pretty important that our public face, a.k.a IG/FB, gives people an insight into that side of things rather than just being an interactive catalogue.
Any advice for new brands trying to get off the ground - in terms of how they speak with their audience and build up a following?
The biggest piece of advice I’d give is not to underestimate your customer base. People aren’t stupid, and if your approach lacks integrity then you’ll be exposed fairly quickly. At best, you’ll gain customers with no real brand loyalty. If you’re a small business, be open about that. There’s nothing to be gained from making yourself out to be more established than you are – it’s easy to do, and the public are savvy to it.
You have a marketing team who are pretty clued-up about all things digital - how has Feed been useful to you even with that team in place?
Previously, I have always run ads based on organic posts to grow our social audience and generate top-of-funnel leads. Maintaining those campaigns can be quite labour intensive though, so having all that work automated has been great. I’ve never seen such low costs per engagement, and I basically don’t have to do anything – what’s not to like?! The self-fulfilling nature of the Lookalike audiences has been working especially well for us on The Overland. As we were taking our first steps into the outdoors arena beyond cycling we didn’t really know who the brand would appeal to, but the Feed app just sits and improves the performance of the campaigns unattended.
What future feature(s) would you like to see in Feed?
I think I’d like to be able to have posts run as ads only on the platform they were originally placed on, since captions or image sizes are often specific to those platforms. Perhaps the ability to run more traditional ads that borrow from the audiences used for the current campaigns, e.g. for a product launch or a special offer. Targeting for conversions in these instances would be useful.