The Fjallraven Kanken backpack has enjoyed immense popularity over the past decade, transcending its origins as a humble Swedish schoolbag to become a must-have fashion accessory. However, most brands with such sudden mass appeal run the risk of overexposure and losing their cultural cachet just as quickly.
As the Kanken approaches market saturation and knockoffs abound, Fjallraven needs to reclaim the backpack’s unique Scandinavian heritage and retro charm through innovative digital marketing. Here are some creative strategies to reignite the cult following around this iconic square pack.
Leverage Pop Culture Nostalgia
One way to immediately revive interest in the classic Kanken is to leverage pop culture nostalgia about the 80s and 90s when the bags first came on the scene. Interactive social media filters or photo editing apps could give images a throwback look with neon Kanken bags prominent in the frame.
Fjallraven could partner with media brands to place the Kanken in the backdrop of retro shows and movies gaining popularity on streaming platforms. When audiences see the backpack prominently featured in their favorite nostalgic media, it reminds them of the Kanken’s roots in youth and school culture.
Fjallraven could also create a digital or TV ad campaign with a concept like “relive your youth with Kanken” and show teens and adults sporting the classic bags while engaging in retro activities like playing old school video games. This nostalgia marketing taps into young consumers looking for a connection to the past.
Highlight Functional Design through Partnerships
While the Kanken has significant cultural cachet, it is still beloved by many for its functional design. To highlight useful features, Fjallraven could partner with outdoor brands like REI for “Backpack Adventure Challenges” where social media creators test out Kankens on trails, camping, cycling and more.
Contests for students could also promote using Kankens in creative ways on campus like a portable art supply bag or makeshift standing desk. When users see Kanken versatility in action, it reframes the backpack as more than just a fashion statement.
Promote Customization and Individuality
Customization is key for any brand looking to regain relevance with younger demographics like Gen Z. Fjallraven could offer special edition artist collaborations with limited edition graphics or patterns to make each Kanken feel like a one-of-a-kind cultural collectible.
Targeted social media prompts could invite followers to share their customized Kankens on Instagram or TikTok using branded filters and hashtags. This promotes individual self-expression and reinforces that each person can make the classic Kanken backpack their own.
Pop-Up Experiential Events
Experiential marketing continues to provide brands invaluable personal connections with consumers. Fjallraven should consider Kanken pop-up events in select cities bringing the backpack’s Scandinavian heritage to life through art, music, food, and more.
For example, they could host a “Kanken Art Exhibit” highlighting Swedish artists and designers. A “Kanken Camp” could feature tents decorated with Kankens, s’mores, and outdoor games. These immersive experiences remind audiences of the cultural origins behind the classic backpack.
Sustainability in design and production are increasing priorities for today’s consumers, especially in Gen Z. While Fjallraven already uses some recycled materials, they can take this further by allowing trade-ins of any old Kankens at their retail stores in exchange for discounts on new bags or other gear. The trade-ins can then be cleaned and resold as vintage Kankens with profits going to environmental causes.
Fjallraven should promote this initiative heavily on social media and their website to position sustainability as a core value. When users see dedicating to environmentalism baked into the brand DNA, it provides another compelling reason to support the Kanken.
Crowdsource Content Directly from Users
User generated content continues to have a powerful impact, with UGC driving up conversion rates by up to 60 percent. Leveraging real Kanken fans to create content is always more authentic.
Fjallraven could launch social media challenges asking followers to submit videos styling outfits with their Kanken or photographing their Kanken in unique places. The best submissions can be reposted organically on Fjallraven’s channels as an endless source of engaging lifestyle content.
When real users drive the storytelling related to the iconic backpack, it taps into a sense of community and reinforces that this classic still belongs to the people.
The Fjallraven Kanken has achieved a ubiquity in recent years that threatens its counter-cultural status. But by returning to the backpack’s roots in Scandinavian heritage and vintage school style, while also incorporating creative new strategies, Fjallraven can reclaim the Kanken’s coveted authenticity and retro charm in the minds of consumers. The key is making sure this classic backpack enhances individual identity and culture. By speaking to new generations in their own visual language, this iconic square pack can be fresh again.