7 November 2013

Marimekko digitally x-rayed

Original collections, brand and marketing that is based on own and partners' shops are traditional strengths of Marimekko. At the same time, a number of consumer brands and retailers are increasingly building their competitive edge on digital tools, the Internet and social media. This post studies how Marimekko have managed to combine these new tools with their business activities. Although some of the analysis methods give only indicative results, the main conclusions are, however, built on a solid base.

Marimekko business 

Marimekko is a Finnish textile and clothing design house with net sales increasing again, after the bottom in 2009. This is caused by international growth, which in turn has eroded the profitability of the company. The numbers of 2013 are rough estimates based on realised results of the three first quarters.

Share of search engine visitors (%)

Digital Marimekko

Number of website visitors is a good yardstick for digital popularity. Most of the Marimekko website visitors are coming from search engines, see the figure on the right. More than half of the searches are Marimekko ones, written right or wrong. Thus, by studying the Marimekko keyword frequency, it is possible to make good enough conclusions about the company's popularity in the Internet world.

Global Google searches of Marimekko
If you look at the global number of Google searches made for Marimekko (see the picture on the left), we can see that the number was at its highest early 2008. After that the search numbers have fallen and the decline is projected (dashed line) to continue. The drop in 2008 is at least partially explained by the global economic crisis. It is to be noted, however, that the revenue growth seems to be driven by the visibility caused by retail expansion, not by Internet publicity (that is becoming more and more important).

The sentiment of Marimekko tweets
There is also room for improvement in how Marimekko use social media: the current effect is mediocre, and the company websites are not promoted enough. The sentiment of company's social network attention can be examined, for example, by means of tweets. There were not a lot of Tweets concerning Marimekko before April 2011. Since then the sentiment has been consistently positive, until since June this year apparently the copy scandal changed the tone much more critical. It seems reasonable to assume that the company, without further publicity problems, will soon be able to normalise the situation.

Engagement of Marimekko website vs. some benchmarks
When Marimekko get consumers to visit their website, they are out there reasonably well, see the picture on the right. Engagement of websites in Finland and in Japan is quite good, compared e.g. with fabrics and women's clothing benchmarks.  This is also confirmed by Hubspot evaluation of the Marimekko website, which gives 76 points out of one hundred possible. The main problems are the lack of regular blogging and partially website optimisation for search engines. Marimekko does not provide an application for smartphones and tablets to access the website conveniently.

In addition, the website has very little text (2.72 % ) relative to HTML code. This slows down page loading, which in turn affects e.g. result positions of Google searches. More broadly, Marimekko seem to have problems with content marketing, the low level of blogging is just a sign of it. Publishing compelling content for customers and thought leaders would help to get coverage on other websites and that would correspondingly feed visits to Marimekko's own website. The graph below highlights the number of inbound links to the company website. The number of links, both to the Finnish site and the international one, has since 2011 grown very slowly. It remains to be seen whether the good performance of 2013 is only the result of negative news.

Inbound links of Marimekko Finnish and Japanese websites

Business by market areas

Marimekko report their business by market areas, see the graph on the right. More detailed information is not available, but the analysis will attempt to go to the country level whenever possible. The numbers of 2013 are estimates.

Own stores

The table below shows the amount of Marimekko stores (own, retailer owned ones and shop-in-shops) by market areas. The revenue figures generally correlate well with the number of stores, especially in North America and Asia-Pacific. In Sweden, the option for online purchasing raised own sales; it remains to be seen, if possible online shop launches in other areas will affect in the same way. 

Marimekko webpages

Origin of Marimekko website visitors
Marimekko have their own websites in Finland, Sweden, the United States, Japan, China and South Korea. Swedish site is in English. In addition, there is an international site in English. The fact that there are no sites with local language available in some major market areas is a serious problem; France, Germany, Spain and Italy are good examples.

Global website ranking of Marimekko

There is no information available about the traffic volumes of the Far East websites. According to Sitetrail, Finland and the United States are leading the visit statistics of the rest of the world, see the picture above. The development of company´s global website ranking is shown in the figure on the left: despite of international expansion, the company ranking has not greatly changed. Finland is by far the most favourable country, Marimekko's rank is currently 615.

Marimekko searches

Google searches of Marimekko in Finland
Development of Google searches in Finland is shown in the adjacent graph. After 2011, there has been on a slight upward trend, surpassing even the sales and store number growth. Dashed line shows the forecast.

Marimekko searches, Sweden and Denmark

In Scandinavian countries, searches are, in turn, been on the decline, see the graph on the right. Interest to make Marimekko searches is thus not following the number of stores or even revenue growth.

The situation in biggest Central and Southern European countries is presented below. The trend is slightly positive in Germany and negative in Italy and Spain. United Kingdom has remained unchanged. In spite of the growing sales, the share of Marimekko´s store sales has been on the decline, which is also reflected in the search statistics. In all countries, the Google one day Marimekko promotion (Google Doodle) in 2012 has created a clear peak.

Google Marimekko searches in Central and Southern Europe
USA and Canada, Marimekko searches

Searches in the United States have roughly remained at the same level, only slight decline this year. In Canada, there is a slight increase. Although the number of stores and company own sales have grown up in a relatively fast pace, this does not appear to have an impact in the search statistics.

Japan and Australia, Marimekko searches
In the Asia-Pacific region, both in Japan and in Australia, business expansion, the opening of new stores and the popularity in the digital space have gone hand in hand. This has resulted in a brisk revenue growth. In Japan, the concern is that during the last couple of years, the trend is downward. There is no information available about China, due to the central role of the Baidu search engine in the market.

Inbound links to Marimekko webpages

Geographical origin of inbound links to Marimekko webpages is illustrated in the map below. At least China does not yet pop up with the weight corresponding to its value in Marimekko's strategy, and also in the United States the relative visibility is quite poor. In contrast, Finland and the rest of North and Central Europe are relatively well represented.

Inbound links to Marimekko webpages

Marimekko in social media

The origin of Marimekko tweets are shown in the map below. The United States and Japan are by far the biggest tweeting countries - the number of tweets in these countries is, however, always large compared to smaller countries. Other notable countries, as regards to Marimekko related tweets, include Finland, Australia, Canada, United Kingdom and Italy. There is a surprisingly weak popularity for example in Sweden, Denmark, Germany, and France.

Marimekko tweets by country

Business by product lines

The company business is divided into three product lines, Clothing, Interior decoration and Bags, see the picture on the right presenting their revenues. The numbers of 2013 are estimates.

Digital footprint and marketing of the product lines can be evaluated using Google search statistics. This is best done by comparing Marimekko related searches with suitable benchmarks.

Marimekko searches vs. women´s clothing ones
Women´s clothing is perhaps the most important segment of the Clothing product line. The trend of Marimekko searches has clearly fallen behind women's clothing category that serves as a benchmark. The thick horizontal line describes the zero-level development of searches  and Marimekko's line is a lighter blue, see the picture on the left. While Marimekko's Clothing sales has recovered slightly after the drop that started in 2008, this does not seem to appear in the digital popularity.

Marimekko searches vs. home-making & interior decor ones
Google searches of home-making and interior decor category are a good benchmark for Marimekko´s Interior decoration product line. Again, Marimekko has fared less well than the benchmark. Also the recent sales growth is not seen in Marimekko searches, compared with the benchmark.

Google Marimekko searches vs. clothing accessory benchmark
Clothing accessories category of Google searches are used to benchmark Marimekko´s Bags product line. The growth of the product line that started in 2010 was first visible also in search statistics, but after that Marimekko has fallen behind their benchmark.


It is clear that Marimekko are not effectively enough using available digital marketing tools alongside product portfolio renewal, expansion of retail and the brand. There is a risk that with changing consumer purchase behaviour, relying more and more on digital channels, Marimekko´s relative competitiveness will suffer.

Marimekko is not visible enough on the Internet. The websites are clearly not interesting enough, and the company messages do not reach other websites. In addition, in many major market areas, there are no company websites available in local languages. In social media, Marimekko is not sufficiently benefiting from word-of-mouth and the company websites are there not promoted enough.

The worrying thing is that Marimekko´s new stores and other major investments in new market areas do not seem to get enough support from digital activities. Although some promising examples can be found, this means inevitably only half-hearted success. All the three product lines seem to have a declining trend in the digital world compared with the benchmarks. 

Besides customer acquisition and retention, digital tools offer a great promise for in-depth identification of customer needs, rapid customer feedback of new products, as well as customer-oriented testing and improvement of marketing plans. Marimekko will face the threat of missing these potential benefits, unless they fully utilise opportunities of the Internet and social media.


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