Although it’s an underdog in an audio space that Beats dominates, House of Marley, co-founded by Bob Marley’s son, Rohan, in 2008, is hoping to woo music enthusiasts and sustainably-minded consumers, alike.
House of Marley, which produces sustainably-made headphones, speakers and vinyl turntables, was born from the principles of the reggae legend’s musical vision and respect for nature, but it isn’t resting on celebrity as its sole sales hook. Instead, its marketing team sees the Marley legacy as an entry point that allows the brand to tell its larger story of sustainability.
“Growing up Marley, we wanted anything we put our hands on to be beneficial to the environment and the community,” Marley, who also co-founded sustainable coffee brand Marley Coffee, told Adweek during a visit to his Tribeca loft last month. “Our audience generally loves music, but they’re also into the sustainable movement.”
House of Marley just rebranded itself with a cleaner, more simplified design on its website and ads. It’s also launching a new turntable, “Stir It Up,” on April 22, to coincide with Earth Day and Record Store Day. The turntable is made of sustainably-sourced bamboo, recycled silicone rubber and up-cycled hemp and plastic bottles.
Awareness for the brand is currently fairly low, so House of Marley is launching more digital, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and search ads to reach its target audience of 22- to 36-year-olds, according to marketing director Jeri Yoshizu.
“We’re creating a ton of content, and we’re getting Rohan to be the face, through as much industry press as possible,” she explained. “We’re seeing so far that our web traffic and conversions have gone up, so we’re selling more. We’re not going after anyone who likes Bob Marley—it’s anyone who’s in the market to buy consumer electronics. Budget is our biggest challenge, but we’re kind of doing the opposite of what Beats is doing. They’re doing TV, using multiple celebrities and casting the biggest net they can.”
The sustainability movement, coupled with the Marley legacy and story, will help House of Marley compete in the space, Yoshizu added.
“Pop culture is leaning toward environmentalism; it’s not a hippie thing anymore,” she said. “DIY culture is big—people want to know what’s in products.”
Renewed interest in vinyl, as evidenced by the increase in vinyl sales, should also drive more fans to the brand, Marley said, noting that his lifelong passion for records started from working at his father’s vinyl factory in Jamaica as a kid.
“We grew up understanding how the analog sound is a driving force for music,” he said. “You get the touch and feel. It’s a brand that resonates not only with Marley fans, but with everyone who has a desire to do better, and knowing how their products are made and where they’re from.”