My budget for a new carry-on suitcase was $0. Because I wasn’t on the market for a new suitcase. However, there is now a $225 suitcase in my house and I’m now trying to figure out how it got here.

I mean, I know how it got here. I bought it. I filled out a form with my credit card details and address and ordered a suitcase.

Nevertheless, I am bewildered:

  • How did a suitcase company convince me there was something tragically wrong with my existing suitcase?
  • How did they convince me that sticking with my mom’s hand-me-down suitcase was utterly intolerable?
  • Why, after identifying a need for a new suitcase, didn’t I just buy a $100 suitcase on Amazon?

And more importantly: How did I convince myself I not only needed a suitcase, but a $225 “smart” suitcase?

And why did I feel so good about it? Join me as I investigate.

They had Rashida Jones sell it to me

“Some internet marketing genius finally hit the fuckin’ bullseye: Rashida Jones + high quality luggage,” I wrote in a Facebook post in August 2017.

“I’m so screwed,” I added, knowing it was only a matter of time before I would be out $225.

Rashida Jones as brand ambassador was a prescient choice for Away – and I’m not just saying that because Rashida Jones happens to be my #1 favorite actress.

Jones is an easily recognizable celebrity who has cultivated a brand of her own. She’s likeable and substantive. She writes films. She went to Harvard. She sang background vocals on a Maroon 5 album. She’s effortlessly beautiful. At 42, she’s an accomplished and independent woman.

She seems like someone who would do some due diligence before endorsing a product, you know?

The relatable actress we’ve come to know and love as “girl next door” Ann on Parks & Recreation and Karen on The Office – is a perfect celebrity collaboration to reach out to the discerning yuppie set.

What they say is true: we don’t buy products. We buy better a better version of ourselves.

I am only a little embarrassed to admit that I hoped buying a suitcase would make me more like Rashida Jones.

A “flagship” feature: a built-in charging port

I had definitely thought about replacing my suitcase before, but always dragged my feet. After all, there was nothing *wrong* with my suitcase.

Away’s flagship feature and its very compelling use case – a charging port in the suitcase – changed that.

What if I could leisurely recharge my phone from my suitcase while I’m waiting at the airport, sitting on a train or wherever?

My life flashed before my eyes.

What if I no longer had to stalk the halls of the airport gates looking for a charger, like a hungry animal? What if I could sit elegantly on a leather couch with a cocktail instead of peering through people’s limbs to hunt down an available outlet?

I don’t care for cocktails or leather couches, but the imagery suggested a real luxury to me: the comfort of being able to charge my phone wherever I am.

Suddenly, I began to loathe my ratty old suitcase. I had seen a better way – and now walking around with a suitcase with no battery just seemed so gauche.

Why was I still living life like a wretched pleb when $225 could make the problem go away?

A strong story + brand narrative

Away’s marketing knows who it’s talking to and it makes deliberate and specific references to the messy nuances of my Very Busy Millennial Lifestyle™️.

An ejectable battery so I can always check my email and Slack! Suitcases that stack within each other so I can fit them into my tiny millennial apartment!

This benefit-driven copy feels so honest-to-God friendly. Away’s copy moves lock-step with the way I think.

Their Germany-based competitor, Horizn Studios probably provides all these features too. But with language like “smart technologies” and “one-click removable 10,000 mAh charger,” it still feels dry and removed in comparison.

It feels like…marketing.

Meanwhile, the established, upscale Rimowa brand doesn’t even bother with context. Set against an uninspiring white background, it asks you to pick your own damn size and color yourself. You’re on your own, suckers.

We have 7 different suitcases and you’ll have to figure out which one to buy yourself.

 

My friends were all buying them (aka peer pressure 👀)

I should probably mention that in the background of all this, suitcases were coming up a LOT in conversation with my friends.

Away has been running extremely effective paid Facebook campaigns, probably using Similar Audience to target my social networks.

Screen Shot 2018-05-21 at 1.27.07 PM
Away’s Similar Audience Facebook campaigns have ensured that everyone I know knows about these suitcases too.

When I mentioned suitcases to my friends, it seemed like everyone already knew about “that suitcase that charges your phone.”

We were all kind of goading each other into upgrading our suitcases, as you can see from this conversation.

You know you have a good product when *your customers* are selling it for you.

In other words, good old-fashioned peer pressure made me do it.

A very sturdy lifetime guarantee 💯

This little detail is wild, but as my eyes began to wander over to competitors, it helped veer me back into Away territory.

There was nearly no price difference between Horizn Studios and an Away suitcase. Both were “smart” and high-quality. Both also offer a 100-day “risk-free” trial.

However, Horizn Studios offers a 30-year “limited warranty” while my Away bag would be “guaranteed for life.”

30-Year Warranty

Even though I know that a 30-year warranty is a long time, I couldn’t help but wonder: what if I live for 50 years? What about the off-chance that my suitcase needs a touch-up when I’m 95?

A lifetime guarantee is very extra, but being extra is what gets someone with a $0 budget for a suitcase to buy your $225 suitcase.

In conclusion, I bought a new suitcase

For years, I felt I could put off buying a new suitcase until tomorrow or next month or next year.

It was a nice-to-have purchase that I never made a priority because there were so many reasons not to. I didn’t know how to buy one. I didn’t think it was worth the money. I didn’t perceive a tangible benefit in replacing what was “good enough.”

Then Away came along and knocked out all those blockers and objections. Away’s marketing didn’t just make me want a new suitcase. It made me feel confident about buying a new suitcase so I would actually bite the bullet and do it.

They turned a cognitively exhausting buyer’s journey into an inspiring and fun experience. Honestly, the most difficult part of this whole thing was picking out a color.  And that is why Away Travel is a $48 million business.

I chose Brick Red.


P.S. Feel like you need a new suitcase now? Use this referral link to get yourself $20 off your new Away suitcase.