Business collabs are everywhere: from global giants like Stussy x Nike to homegrown brands including Tshepo Jeans x Castle Milk Stout. And it’s not just big brands that are tapping into the power of the collab — small businesses are joining forces to create unique offerings that delight their customers and cash flow alike.
Here’s why brands big, small, and in between, are getting cosy with each other and embracing the marketing genius that is the collab:
1. They open up new markets ($$$)
Tapping into a new customer base – one that you’d probably never get in front of otherwise doesn’t just mean an increase in sales – also means a boost in brand awareness, followers, and engagement. Yes. Please.
2. They galvanise customer buy-in
For brands that share an overlapping market, working together is a powerful way to say “We got you”. Think Lego x Star Wars or global fashion giant H&M and their growing list of SA creatives.
3. They’re the best kind of PR
There’s no better way to get people talking from the crowd than via a strategic collab (looking at you Kourtney Kardashian and Dolce and Gabbana).
4. They’re the brand equivalent of a facelift
Partnering with a brand that’s part of the zeitgeist is the commerce equivalent of a trip to the plastic surgeon (the good kind). If it can work for the doll that’s borne the brunt of woke culture, it can work for you.
What’s not to love? If you’re considering what a collaboration might look like for your business, here are three of the most common iterations of the beloved ‘x by x’:
1. Sharing a space or resources
Growing a small business means making the most out of limited resources and learning as you go. What better way to make the journey easier than sharing a space (and the expertise of) another Underdog?
Yoco hustlers who’ve made big business out of shared spaces include Mat Kieser of premium apparel brand O_S_C_S, and Ollie Balekage of Ollie’s Coffee, purveyor of artisanal coffee, who operate out of the same store in Sea Point, Cape Town. Their partnership has earned them a cult following that sees everyone from cyclists and fashionistas stop in for a top-up of caffeine and a dose of retail therapy.
Setting up shop with another small business means perks like:
- Reduced fixed costs (rent, fibre, insurance).
- A whole new pool of potential customers and brand advocates.
- Free(!) marketing.
- Unfettered access to a fellow entrepreneur, who’ll hype you up when you’re down and share their insights (and hopefully, beer).
2. Once-off collabs
Countless brands the world over owe their success to the nebulous concept of exclusivity. Contrary to what manifestation influencers will tell you, our innate ‘scarcity mindset’ was once a crucial tool that enabled our ancestors to survive against the odds. The next time you see a TikTok of thousands of die-hard stans freezing their appendages off as they rough it overnight, ready to resort to physical force to get their hands on a piece of the Gucci x North Face collection, don’t blame capitalism, blame evolution. (And a brilliant marketing strategy.)
For homegrown inspo of Yoco merchants doing ‘pop-up’ collabs right, look no further than Ditto, purveyors of oat-milk ice cream. Beloved for their creamy, vegan-friendly scoops, they frequently collaborate with local brands including the OG of ear candy, Pina jewels, and plant-based Hullis Donuts. The result? An almost Harry Styles-esque hype that sees queues out the doors and Ditto heading for cult gelato status.
The pros of “tonight only” collabs are myriad, including:
- Ramped up brand awareness.
- A powerful antidote to sales slumps.
- Cost-effective execution (with a high ROI to boot).
- The chance to tap into the knowledge of a business that operates in a similar market space.
"For creatives to transfer their creativity to society, it has to be an easy process" - @LadumaNgxokolo founder of @MaXhosaAfrica. We agree and that's why we've collaborated on a range of limited edition #YocoXLaduma Khumo card machines.— Yoco (@Yoco_ZA) June 13, 2022
Join the waitlist https://t.co/XM3HbUz3Aw pic.twitter.com/6BZvMjNKPE
3. Established brands and creators
Today’s version of the artist and their muse, collaborations between creators and brands often see small-time makers sell out overnight, with the associated established brand enjoying the perks of relevance and new market share. As creators seek new ways of monetising their offering, partnering with an established brand is a surefire way to ramp up sales and grow a loyal following.
Here’s why creators and brands love teaming up:
- Big brands get to position themselves as relevant.
- Creators get the “seal of approval” (and the resultant perks).
- Brands can generate fresh new content and campaigns.
- Creators gain access to additional new opportunities that were out of reach before.
- Both enjoy increased engagement.
For *chef’s kiss* examples of Mzanzi creators who’ve teamed up with big brands see:
Iconic designer and Yoco merchant Wanda Lephoto recently collaborated with the original preppy footwear brand Dakota to design a pair of achingly hip, limited edition loafers.
H&M worked with über-talented illustrator Yay Abe to bring his technicolour, good vibes aesthetic to loungewear fanatics across the country.
The beauty of collaborations is that every single one is unique. And the special kind of magic that results when two trailblazing businesses team up? Priceless.
We’ve had the honour of collaborating with iconic founder and Chief Creative Officer of MaXhosa Africa, Laduma Ngxokolo, to create a limited edition range of Khumos that are arguably the best-looking card machines around. (I know right?). If you want to get your hands on one of only 1000 limited edition Yoco x Laduma Khumos, run, don’t walk – they’re going fast.
We’re so excited about this first of many future collaborations that focus on breaking down barriers between technology and the creators that use it. Drop a comment about makers you’d love to see us join forces with!