Levi's and the Fifth 'P' of Marketing

Geoffrey Precourt

A decade ago, Levi's all but gave up on digital media, walking away from its ecommerce business.

The company wasn't doing well, and exploring that part of the digital frontier seemed a distant goal compared with the more immediate concern of building a presence on its retail partner sites. Parent Levi Strauss & Co. had launched Levi.com in 1995, but only as a channel for retail marketing. In 1998, Levi's did experiment with ecommerce – a program that excluded retail-partner participation – but walked away from that effort a year later. So, for the next six years, if you wanted to buy a pair of Levi's online, you had to go someplace else.

Levi's continues to allow retail partners to sell its products, but in 2006 the company re-entered the ecommerce space. The move back into digital has had a profound effect, according to Larry Ruff, Levi Strauss Chief Strategy Officer and SVP/strategy and business development. "Digital has fundamentally changed the way the Levi's brand operates."