From Utility to Fashion Accessory – How Zippo’s Legacy Has Changed Over Time

Zippo Manufacturing Company, the world-renowned maker of the iconic windproof lighter and growing assortment of lifestyle and outdoor products, unveiled a new global brand platform, “Live with Confidence”, to support the evolution of the brand. For 90 years, Zippo has been making dependable, rugged essentials that have better-than-necessary build quality. The brand’s new positioning represents its longstanding commitment to craftsmanship and sustainability, giving people confidence in Zippo products so they can have the freedom to do what they want, how they want.

After returning to the market last year, iconic windproof lighter brand Zippo launched its first landmark brand campaign in India earlier this year. The digital film made by Ogilvy India is a statement about finding opportunity in life and resilience, and how not to let anyone or anything drown out your inner fire.

In conversation with Adgully, Lucas Johnson, Associate Vice President, Zippo Global Marketing, Zippo Manufacturing Companytalks about the heritage of the iconic brand, the fight against counterfeits, the strengthening of the distribution network, the transition to the personal fashion accessory, etc.

How has Zippo’s journey been since its creation?

Zippo was founded in 1932 by George G Blaisdell after watching a friend struggle to use a lighter on a windy day. While it worked well in the wind, the bulky lighter required the use of both hands. This sparked an idea in Blaisdell’s mind and the windproof lighter was born. For the past nine decades, the signature lighter has been manufactured in Bradford, Pennsylvania and is backed by the company’s famous guarantee – “It works or we’ll fix it for free”. With the exception of improvements to the flint grinding wheel and a large number of designs and finishes, the product retains its classic form and functionality.

The company has grown beyond its signature lighter and continues to grow, including lighter accessories, hand warmers, lifestyle accessories, eyewear and products for outdoor enthusiasts. Zippo is available in over 160 countries and the company is currently focusing on growing the Indian market.

Today’s modern, tech-savvy consumers are open to exploring premium brands and are confident in the choices they make. As for the Indian market, the average income is on the rise, which is an important factor for the Zippo brand. Our products are available in many models and price ranges, and we cater to an audience looking for a more premium product. Given its price and wide range of designs, it’s easy to see how Zippo lighters have come to mean so much more to consumers than just a lighter. Many people attach sentimental value to their Zippo lighters, personalize and collect them or even use them as good luck charms, in addition to appreciating the functionality of a reliable, pocket-sized flame source. There are common use cases for a pocket lighter, ranging from starting grates and lighting candles to a variety of other flame and lighting needs. Looking at this, we sincerely believe that the brand has exciting potential in the Indian market.

What are the highlights and challenges you have faced in recent years?

There are so many opportunities in the Indian market and we are working strategically to strengthen our brand presence here. It’s been a great experience so far and we’re still going strong.

In 2020, the brand created a subsidiary, Zippo Lighters India Pvt Ltd. A key part of our strategy is to have Zippo employees with extensive market experience in India to support brand expansion. The future strategy is to further develop in-market personnel and work more closely with key retail partners in e-commerce and brick-and-mortar channels.

Last year, we appointed Ogilvy as Zippo’s go-to agency in India for comprehensive marketing efforts to support the brand’s expansion plans in India. One of the first tasks of this team was to conduct extensive research on awareness levels and brand health in India. Using the team’s experience and market research capabilities, our research on Indian consumers and the commercial landscape revealed not only that India is a price-sensitive market, but also that Indian consumers have unique and strong opinions on trust and their relationship with premium brands. We see many similarities with other markets and countries where we have successfully built and increased our brand presence, and we seek to replicate that success with Indian consumers.

Another of our challenges in the Indian market, in addition to competition, are counterfeits and similar products. We have had remarkable success working with local authorities to disrupt sales of counterfeit products in Mumbai, and we will continue to actively pursue the closure of the counterfeit supply chain. Since our consumers place so much trust and importance in obtaining a genuine Zippo product, one of our primary goals on the marketing side of the business is to truly educate consumers on product identification. authentic, as we simultaneously work with key channel partners and retailers to help identify and address some of these issues.

What is the inspiration and message behind the brand’s campaign – “Spark a new begin”?

Thanks to the brand campaign ‘Launch a new beginning‘, we wanted to show the power in all of us, through the metaphor of burning insecurities. Our philosophy at Zippo has always been that the consumer sees us as an extension of their personality, taste and style. Zippo has gone beyond a simple utilitarian product to become a personal fashion accessory that can be passed down from one generation to the next. The film beautifully captures our unique lighter design capabilities and the trademark “clicking” sound the lighter makes when opened.

The campaign describes the journey of people who have been criticized for who they are, what they are and how they rose above it all. It celebrates their fiery courage and determination in the face of adversity. The thought-provoking and emotionally engaging film features examples from a new mother who the world says can’t handle a corporate job, to a young girl whose weight is a problem for everyone but herself. In this context, Zippo’s high-end windproof lighter becomes the tool that allows them to overcome preconceived ideas and stereotypes, with characters who decide to act on their dreams, their aspirations and emerge like them. themselves.

Where did you roll out the brand campaign in India, who was your TG and what was its impact?

We went live on June 27e with a digital film made by Ogilvy India, which is a strong statement about the pursuit of opportunity in life and resilience, and how not to let anyone, or anything, drown out your inner fire. The film was designed with the aspirations and feelings of the Indian consumer in mind. We rolled out the film across multiple channels, including Google, YouTube, and Facebook. We have the campaign running on various portals such as, and TataCliq Luxury. The goal was to reach as many consumers and potential consumers as possible who connect with the ideology of breaking stereotypes and living their lives with confidence.

On the impact metrics front, the main movie has garnered over 5 million views to date. We have reached approximately 33.2 million users across Google, Facebook, YouTube and since the launch date and are extremely pleased with the response we have received so far.

Zippo goes beyond the central use case of a lighter, which is smoking. How will you diversify your variants and their use cases in India?

Our main goal has been to communicate the different use cases of a Zippo lighter to consumers beyond smoking. As consumer habits have changed, so have their needs, and we view the lighter as a lifestyle product that meets multiple needs. These iconic lighters are an ideal gift for your partners, husbands, parents, friends, as they can be used to light birthday cake, diya, candle, luxury cigar, used for outdoor camping and camping. trekking. Our windproof lighter has become a sought-after personal and collectible accessory around the world. Previous research has shown that many owners of Zippo lighters have multiple lighters for various occasions: to pair with smart or casual attire, as souvenirs of places travelled, out of passion for themes or even because they love the history of the brand.

We are committed to the Indian market and will look to expand into other segments in the coming years. We are currently focusing on the lighter segment here. We would certainly like to replicate the success and legacy we have had in the United States when it comes to goggles, hand warmers and other outdoor accessories.

Our current plan is to focus on building the distribution network and then assessing the demand for different types of categories.