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Maximize the Moment: 7 Lessons From the Best Limited Edition Collaborations

July 2, 2023

Nike x Ben & Jerry’s, Gucci x Disney, Barbie x Balmain. In the ever-evolving landscape of retail and fashion, brand collaborations are here to stay. It’s easy to see why – the best collaborations can launch brands to new heights, boost sales, and create a buzz that resonates beyond the confines of one store or website. But how do you ensure your brand collaboration launch is not just good, but great?

Here are 7 key strategies the best collaborators use to maximize the moment.

1. Tell a Compelling Story

Behind every great collaboration lies a compelling story.  What inspired this partnership? What do you want fans to remember about it? Weave a narrative that resonates with your audience, creating an emotional connection beyond the products themselves.

But crafting the story is just the beginning. You’ll need to consider how that story comes to life within the product itself, the packaging, and the messaging. 

James Whitner and his team at The Whitaker Group are masters at bringing storytelling to the forefront of their collaborations. Each launch they do has a distinct point of view. Take the Free Lunch Dunks:

"We spend a lot of time on the message. The stories with AMM and Social Status are different. You can't miss the story with [the Free Lunch Dunks]. The baseball check being removable on the shoe is not a part of the design, it's a part of the story. The message is built into it so you get it.” - James Whitner

When it comes to messaging, you’ll want to create a source of truth that can be shared between organizations and referenced as you create marketing materials and larger communications. It can be as simple as a google document with answers to those critical questions, as well as key messaging do’s and don'ts. 

2. Create Teaser Content Early

Marketing a collaboration starts well before launch day. Build anticipation with captivating teaser content. Teasers should provide a glimpse of what's to come while leaving room for curiosity. 

Puma started teasing their new collaboration with Fenty in March of 2023, a full six months in advance of their slated launch. As we’ve gotten closer to the launch, they’ve leaked more and more detail, effectively building the excitement. While it’s not always feasible to plan this far ahead, we recommend giving yourself at least a month to drop hints. 

Puma X Fenty teaser content

Fenty x Puma gets bonus points for directing fans to an email list for ongoing updates. For an in-demand launch, a pre-registration email list can be a game-changer. Encourage interested customers to sign up early in exchange for early access, information, or other perks. This not only helps you predict your demand in advance of launch day, but also helps you tailor your marketing efforts effectively.

3. Seed Influencers 

Teasers don’t just have to come from your owned channels. Depending on your budget and network, you, your team, or the right celebrity, influencer, or creator can also kick things off. Enter: product seeding. Product seeding, also known as influencer gifting, is the practice of sending out free products to influencers to encourage authentic and organic reviews. 

Seeding can be a massive unlock for generating buzz and awareness, but not every seeding initiative is created equal. When dealing in influence, it’s important to consider not just reach, but resonance and relevance, too. To make the most of your seeding strategy, brands should first: 

  1. Examine your current network: Before searching through generic influencer identification software, take a peek through your followers and email lists. People who already know and love your brand will be more likely to speak genuinely to this collaboration and why it means something to them. 
  2. Provide creative freedom: These creators know their audience best. For the most authentic content, don’t give too many guidelines. Instead, personalize your package to each creator you’re sharing with. 
  3. Consider micro influencers: Influencers with smaller followings (or your own loyal fans!) will often have a highly engaged fanbase and be the most tapped-in to your community. Especially when budget constraints are a concern, it can be more effective to share with 10 micro influencers than 1 macro influencer. 

4. Consider your Fan Experience  

In today's digital age, technology can be your greatest ally or your biggest obstacle. When brands don’t deliver an experience that meets fan expectations, they’re met with backlash and a missed opportunity to convert more customers to fans. Site crashes, bots dominate, and inaccurate payments are all symptoms of the same problem - relying on the wrong technology for your launch.

The right technology solution doesn’t just help you avoid headaches, but it actually gives your brand more value out of the launch. Traditional commerce solutions don’t cut it, and there are very few options out to help you do this. Here’s a few important considerations when deciding what tech partner to launch with: 

  1. What operational challenges do you have? If you’ve ever oversold or wasted time chasing invoices, EQL could be the best fit. Payments are managed automatically, and we integrate directly with your OMS.
  2. How important is fan experience to you? Surveys show that waiting in line is (unsurprisingly) associated with negative emotions. Read more on the futility of queuing here. 
  3. Can you take advantage of new potential customers? Unlike any FCFS tool, raffles allow you to connect with all the potential customers who had an intent to purchase. 

At EQL, we believe that launches can deliver a much better fan experience, and ultimately more value for brands. As fans first, our team is deeply committed to bringing the same energy to our retailers that we ourselves seek in these experiences. The result? Less chaos, and more wins for everyone.

5. Turn Chaos Into Calm

Launch day can be chaotic, but if you’re prepared for it, you can harness the chaos for your benefit. Ensure you’re owning the moment by preparing answers to common questions your fans will have on release day, and dedicating a specific resource to social engagement. Not only will this make your communications more consistent across all your channels, but it will also get you closer to the action. 

We’re willing to bet you’ll hear many if not all of the following questions:

The basics:

  • How can I enter the launch? 
  • What markets will this be available in? 

Fairness questions: 

  • How can I increase my chances of winning? Is this launch Run Fair? 
  • What are you doing to beat bots on this launch? 

Payment, Shipping & Logistics questions:

  • What forms of payment are you accepting?
  • How long will this take to ship?
  • How does in-store pickup work?
  • Do you accept returns? 
  • How long do I have to return a product? 

6. Learn from your Launches

Each and every launch is an opportunity to gain valuable insights about your customers, create new fans, and ultimately drive business growth. To make the most of every launch, schedule a post-launch deep-dive review with both teams. Especially for collaborators, sharing data from both parties can paint a fuller picture of the demand and potential for the future. Important KPIs include: 

Launch campaign metrics:

  • Email list signups 
  • Social engagement rates

Revenue metrics: 

  • Revenue vs. profitability: sales, margins, and expenses

Qualitative feedback: 

  • Social sentiment analysis
  • Customer support tickets 

As an EQL partner, you’ll be able to unlock actionable insights such as: 

  • What was the demand for every skew or size run? 
  • What is your fan demographic? Location? Age? 
  • What % of your entries were bots or bad actors?
  • Where are your bad actors coming from?
  • What was the overall hype for this product?

What’s next 

Launching a limited edition brand collaboration is an art and a science, but with the right technology partner, brands can maximize the moment for the long-term. EQL is proud to have supported iconic collaborators like Joe Freshgoods x New Balance, Tom Bogo x Saucony, Nike x Tiffany, the Whitaker Group x Mac Attacks, and more to make their collaborations special. 

If you’re preparing for your next collaboration and are curious about the possibilities, don’t hesitate to reach out. 

EQL Staff

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