Elvis Jesus Strategy

Written by Martin Lucas

Elvis Jesus is a men's fashion label that has been operating for 20 years.

We DOUBLED their online sales for 2017 in just six months.

Their founder, David, asked us to look at the overall brand positioning and strategy and this case study is all about the strategy side of a very in-depth piece of work.

20 years is a long time to be running a fashion business; it makes for a lot of history and a lot of complexity to get inside and figure out how best to steer the ship for a successful future.

As shared in many case studies, we anchor our work on the Four Pillars of Communication method. It’s combination of data, behavioural, neuroscience and psychology. The fundamentals are simple; if I give a set of rules to people that they can relate to and it drives all their activities then I can create the positive outcomes I desire. That’s the nuts and bolts of it - positive behaviour change. This is strategy at its heart: people - in this case employees - working collectively to execute your plan to achieve what you want.

For Elvis Jesus, we spent a long time working on their origin story which is not just them as a brand, it is also their roots in Manchester. If you’ve ever been to Manchester and have ever hung out in the Northern Quarter area you will feel the heritage of the history of fashion within Manchester, from its weavers to its transport canals. The Elvis Jesus founder epitomises this with a deep knowledge of fashion design, weaving, production and an endless wisdom of his trade.

Design is in our blood.

This is one of their four pillars; it says everything about how you want everyone in the Elvis Jesus team to think, to feel and to act.

David, their CEO had this to say:

“Taking away the smoke and mirrors of sales and marketing and replacing it with clarity and understanding from a commercial and creative point of view. Then following that same line of thinking and building a strategy to celebrate 20 years of Elvis Jesus and finding new fans by doing so.”

Once we had rolled out their four pillars, we looked at design collections, the release process and seeing if we could solve the modern retail challenge of everything being ‘on sale’. 

To resolve this issue you need to find more of a value proposition, lots of techniques for this; the one I love most is the FOMO releases. FOMO = fear of missing out. If you feel FOMO you are waaaaaaaaaaaay more likely to buy something as you don’t wanna miss out. Other brands have this nailed when it comes to collection releases; they drop them, they sell out in 24-48 hours, they don’t restock and their fans know it. If someone is hit with FOMO then they are STILL likely to buy something from the day-to-day collections. It is not a discount-led strategy like that used by 99% of retailers in the world, instead they have limited edition releases, it's cool for a high value brand.

So far so good. What if we could FOMO an Elvis Jesus collection? Part of my personal enjoyment of working with Elvis Jesus is that I get to learn from David, as shared in the first case study about Growth. It’s a brand I’ve been a fan of for a long time and the big bonus is the passion and knowledge David brings to the table. He is the founder of Elvis Jesus AND Ringspun AND he does a lot of supply and consulting for a large number of brands. This meant that when I shared the FOMO concept he could add to it by explaining the notion of Fast Fashion and how BooHoo has been crushing it.

Mahmud, the founder of BooHoo (and a great dude), has taken the old-fashioned model (I’ll buy 10,000 of dress X) and turned it on its head by buying 200 dresses each in 50 different designs.

In both cases, the supplier is making 10,000 pieces but for BooHoo they have 50 different dresses and all with limited stock to sell. It’s a win-win.

Since Elvis Jesus is a specialist in high quality couture clothing, having 10,000 was never going to cut it, so we combined the two strategies by creating a Greatest Hits collection from the 20-year vault of designs and executed it with FOMO style excitement. It sold out in 8 days.

Now in 2018, let me share some new ideas as we plan to move Elvis Jesus onwards and upwards. The growth and doubled online sales represent terrific success for 2017 but what would help further elevate and grow the fan base?

I’m excited to say that David has asked me to be COO on an interim basis. Pretty awesome.

Profit / Loss analysis - We looked at all of the 2017 sales activity and split the data in multiple ways:

Production & design costs

Baseline cost per SKU

Baseline cost per Collection

ASP - Average selling price

Overall profit per SKU

Overall profit per collection

Total number of sales per SKU

That then told us enough stories about which collections sold well AND at a high profit vs those which sold well but at lower profit. We also found some outliers which sold low volume and at low profit. This is all very interesting data but how could we make it work for the future? The answer is to look at the design, look, feel, colours, attitude, story and names. All are factors that allow Elvis Jesus to understand the mindset of their customers and thus figure out what what is good and bad in the eyes of their customers.

The psychology of shopping is that there is a lot of data analysis that happens in the unconscious mind and our brains are programmed to reject stuff that isn’t in line with our personality and who we are.

e.g. ‘I like that brand but this t-shirt is awful.’

THAT. So now we have data that helps us ascertain good and bad design ideas BEFORE they get to production, so even if we sold exactly the same number of items in 2018 vs 2017 it would be for a much higher profit. We call this the Science of Cool, a system that results in a scoring system of 1-9 which helps make the decision simple:

Score Action

1-3 Don’t make it.

4-6 Make it but change X and Y.

7-9 It’s a win. Go for it.

This allows for innovation as it is based on the now not yesterday, all live. We are so ready to share this with any brand who wants to play :).

Quality

Strategy-wise the remaining thing to share today is about quality. If you order an Elvis Jesus t-shirt the packaging is high end and the small details of the design are high end. Check this out:

What David had to say:

“This has given me a clearer understanding of our core customer and what they are looking for from us as a brand. The strategy saw our online sales double inside 6 months and beyond that the future looks much brighter since we devised ways to focus on couture, value and what our customers need.”

David Mallon, CEO, Elvis Jesus

We just needed even more focus on this quality in EJ’s communications so we are working on including strong points of view and what inspires EJ in a blog, their newsletters and on social media. Everything was already in pretty good shape but there is always room to improve and we don’t settle for good; great is even better!

Overall I am personally very pleased with all of this, it was an honour (and fun). I asked David about his overall experience:

“I have always worked offshore for most of my career which has served me well in the B-B arena…The B-C model is much more reactive and the team need much more attention and leadership than they were receiving with me being away or unavailable so often..working with Martin and MasterMindSet has bridged this gap so there is always an answer to whatever question arises”

And what better way to embrace quality than by collaborating with your network? David has a terrific network to tap into; take a look of many collaborations we have rolling:

Paul Oakenfold :)

What do you think David?

“The possibilities for the future are interesting to me, the science and ability to make a difference opens up your mind to think differently about what you can be to your target audience.”

David Mallon, CEO, Elvis Jesus