Samsonite’s Success with Gen Z Built on Packing Up Trust, Innovation

Gen Z has been Samsonite’s target audience as it aims to associate
its iconic brand with lifestyle, flexibility, purpose, and trust.

When David Oksman signs off from work and heads out on vacation, he makes sure his out-of-office message will be one to remember.  

“My team is wicked smaht,” it starts, referencing the ’90s blockbuster movie Good Will Hunting. “So, I am taking what’s mine this week and will be on vacation. I have to go see about a beach.” 

After all, travel at Samsonite is sacred and David, the company’s Vice President of Marketing and E-Commerce, wants employees to remember that their job is not just about selling luggage but it’s about showing the transformative power of travel.  

The message certainly resonates with the company’s younger employees, specifically those belonging to Gen Z, a group that along with millennials have said they admire the ability to balance work and life priorities, according to Deloitte’s 2023 Gen Z and Millennial Survey. Externally, Gen Z has also been Samsonite’s target audience as it aims to associate its iconic brand with lifestyle, flexibility, purpose, and trust – characteristics valued by this sought-after market.  

To drive the point home about how Samsonite’s internal culture reflects Gen Z culture, the company launched a TikTok account which has currently amassed more than 2 million likes. A video about cheeky out-of-office messages sent by Samsonite’s employees was particularly popular.  

“We are focused on authentic storytelling and our culture internally reflects those values as well. This is not an ‘Instafake’ version of the world,” David explained. “Travel has depth to it, and we live that, inside and out.” 

Younger generations look for flexible payment options 

Gen Z makes up 55% penetration in the Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) space.

Part of steering the ship of an iconic brand is recognizing when the tide has turned and when it’s time for new adventures, particularly when it comes to payments.  

David, who has spent more than 20 years working at the intersection of purpose-driven brands and digital commerce, joined Samsonite on March 10, 2020 – days before a global pandemic shut down travel and forced the industry into a tailspin. However, during the pandemic, Samsonite’s digital presence saw dramatic growth, not just on platforms like TikTok, but in e-commerce as the company has focused on diversifying the ways its customers can pay.  

A recent study on Gen Z's payment patterns found that Gen Z makes up 55% penetration in the Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) space, with 26% saying they’ve used it up to three times in the last three months.  

“Strategically, our focus has been on brand elevation and transforming digitally across different channels and the fruits of that labor have really paid off,” he said. “We are already the most trusted luggage brand in the world. We want new generations to see we are also a reflection of their lifestyle. We know they want flexibility and options in all aspects of their life.” 

Samsonite has long offered PayPal at checkout. Recently, they’ve also started offering PayPal’s Pay in 4 and Pay Monthly payment solutions across all of their brands, and the results show they’re attracting a new Gen Z clientele.  

Samsonite’s results from Q4 2022 show that while the company’s PayPal sales grew 26% year over year, its sales through PayPal’s Pay Later products grew by 40%. Moreover, the average order value (AOV) of those products grew by 42%.  

The results reflect what recent studies have shown. According to a 2023 Lending Tree report, more than half of all BNPL users say they use PayPal’s Pay Later options.   

“PayPal’s Pay Later products are attracting a consumer who is significantly into experiences, is looking for flexibility, and is prioritizing investing in travel and their mental wellness over things,” David said.  

Working with trusted partners helps build ‘position of strength’ 

Millennials and Gen Z consumers rate PayPal as the most
trusted brand to keep their financial information secure.

Most importantly, having PayPal as a payment option helps reiterate trust in the brand.  

When it comes to digital payments, Millennials and Gen Z consumers rate PayPal as the most trusted brand to keep their financial information secure, according to an online study commissioned by PayPal and conducted by TRC in 2021. 

David reiterated how critical building trust is to the brand – including working with other brands that have the same stellar reputation, particularly when it comes to something as critical as payments and innovation.  

“The consumer really needs to have trust in getting to that conversion and trust that they are making the right choice for their financial approach,” he said. “PayPal, like Samsonite, is a brand with heritage that has earned the most trusted consideration for consumers. I believe it’s the best tool out there and it puts us in a position of strength and trust with our consumer. Best of all, the team is super proactive at offering opportunities and tech solution perspectives.” 

Building trust involves captivating audiences with modern, innovative products and experiences, both on the shelf and at checkout. For example, from a business perspective, the company is looking at elevating their omnichannel experience by creating a connected digital ecosystem that allows user to access Samsonite products across a variety of channels including social media platforms, online marketplaces, and well-known department stores.  

From a product perspective, Samsonite has started adding a dedicated space on some luggage for a Bluetooth tracking device after recent chaotic scenes in airports around the world. They also focus on sustainable practices, providing customers with zipper repair pouches at the point of purchase to encourage travelers to fix their luggage rather than throw it away.  

“Trust and innovation go hand-in-hand. Trust comes from what you’ve done before and innovation comes from where we go next,” David explained. “We are always looking for new opportunities and the right tools to grow.” 

Modern Enterprise

The Modern Enterprise series explores the issues and opportunities shaping today’s most successful companies. Read about innovations that change the competition, new ways of doing business that consumers have come to expect, and hear from industry leaders on their decisions and the lessons they’ve learned. Read more or sign up for the newsletter here. For more on how PayPal can help your company, visit PayPal for Enterprise  

The content of this article is provided for informational purposes only. You should always obtain independent business, tax, financial, and legal advice before making any business decision. 

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