Angus Ireland Wool Academy Podcast 017

#017: Angus Ireland about the latest wool research

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Research insights on how wool helps improve eczema

In this episode, Angus Ireland from the Woolmark Company,  speaks about the latest research happening in the area of health and wellness as well as wool’s environmental credentials. Angus talks about how super fine wool next to skin products improve the skin health of people suffering from eczema and how this will apply itself to the market. Another topic Angus shares is the work on wool’s environmental credentials.

About Angus Ireland

Angus is the Program Manager – Fibre Advocacy and Eco Credentials for Australian Wool Innovation Limited.
From the NSW tablelands, he studied Wool and Pastoral Science at the University of NSW and completed a Post Graduate Diploma of Business at Deakin University. Angus has considerable experience in raw wool specification and management of wool research and testing operations. He has contributed to the development of automated wool sampling and testing instrumentation for characteristics including, staple length, staple strength, dark fibre, colour, diameter variability and yield.
Angus’ current focus is on extending the scientific basis for wool’s wellness and environmental attributes, including support for new product categories. These activities largely involve partnering with research institutions in Australia and overseas in the conduct of specialist human wellness research, environmental research, and in facilitating international advocacy activities through organisations such as IWTO.
Prior to employment with AWI, Angus worked in a variety of research and operational roles at the Australian Wool Testing Authority Ltd.


Connect with Angus Ireland here

The Woolmark Company

Australian Wool Innovation

Chris Wilcox Wool Economics 101 Wool Academy Podcast

#016: Chris Wilcox explains the dynamics of the wool market

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All you need to understand how the wool market works

In this episode, Chris Wilcox who is the world’s leading analyst and commentator on the global wool industry, explains the different elements of the wool market. These include an overview of the main wool growing, manufacturing and consuming countries, wool’s market share compared to other fibres, wool prices, world sheep population and many more. Chris also shares latest insights on market trends and how the wool manufacturing market will shift in the next few years.


About Chris Wilcox

Chris Wilcox is the world’s leading analyst and commentator on the global wool industry. He has 25 years’ experience in conducting and guiding economic research, market intelligence analysis and strategic assessment of key issues in the global wool industry, in a career of over 35 years in Australian agribusiness. He is a widely recognised public speaker on the global wool industry, having given over 200 presentations at conferences and meetings around the world, including China, the USA, Italy, France, Uruguay and Germany.

Chris operates his own consultancy business, Poimena Analysis, and has a number of roles in the global wool industry, including: Executive Director of the National Council of Wool Selling Brokers of Australia; Chairman of the International Wool Textile Organisation’s Market Intelligence Committee; and a Board Director of the Australian Wool Testing Authority. He prepares the International Wool Textile Organisation’s annual Market Information statistics publication and also prepares the American Sheep Industries’ Wool Journal six times a year. Chris is Secretary and Analyst for the Australian Wool Production Forecasting Committee.

Connect with Chris Wilcox here

Twitter @poimena14

Twitter @woolbrokersaus

Woolbrokers Australia – here you can find wool industry analysis articles and news

IWTO – The International Wool Textile Organisation offers key statistics on the global wool industry



Dr Beverley Henry Wool Academy Podcast 015

#015: Dr Beverley Henry explains wool’s Life Cycle Assessment

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Insights from the expert on wool’s Life Cycle Assessment

In this episode, Dr. Beverley Henry talks about why the opinions about the sustainability for fibres varies so much and how we can find common grounds through the method of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). She shares with us the latest findings on LCA research for wool and how this is integrated into the textile supply chain. Beverley  explains how individual companies can use the available research on LCA to improve their product footprint.

About Dr. Beverley Henry

Dr Beverley Henry is a member of the IWTO Wool Life Cycle Assessment Technical Advisory Group, an Adjunct Associate Professor with Queensland University of Technology, and a consultant to agricultural industries. For over 30 years she has conducted research on agricultural systems focusing on profitability and sustainability especially in variable climates and markets.  Beverley is particularly interested in the integration of grazing in extensive pastoral regions with effective environmental management and in communicating the value of these systems.  She is a member of Australian Government technical groups on climate change and research issues and a member of several national and international Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and Standards bodies, including roles with the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations and International Standards Organization.

Connect with Beverley Henry here

Beverley’s profile at the Queensland University of Technology Brisbane, Australia

More information about wool LCA on the IWTO website




Monica Ebert Interview Wool Academy Podcast 014

#014: Monica Ebert on how to advance your career through the IWTO Young Professionals program

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In this episode, Monica Ebert shares insights about her experience with the IWTO Young Professionals program and how it has helped her career including finding her current job role as Market Developer Manager at NZ Merino. As a young wool industry professional, Monica talks about how students can advance their careers and how companies can connect to the young and upcoming talents. If you thought you could never sell or buy a sheep through Facebook, think again, as Monica talks about how her family does sheep sales online.

About Monica Ebert

Monica’s passion for the wool industry stems from her lifelong involvement in the sheep industry having been born into a small purebred sheep operation in Kansas, USA. She received her Bachelor’s degrees in Apparel Design and Apparel Marketing from Kansas State University and completed her Master’s degree at Angelo State University where she focused her research efforts on sheep and wool production and apparel product development concentrating on the processing and manufacturing of wool into active wear garments. Through her research and the development of a supply chain entirely within the United States textile industry she gained unique insights of the wool supply chain from “sheep to shop”.

When the opportunity arose in 2014 to attend the International Wool Textile Organisation Congress in Cape Town, South Africa through the young professional program, Monica took advantage of the chance to learn more about the global wool industry through farm visits as well as networking at the Congress. Now with several IWTO events under her belt she has now begun to take a larger role in the international wool industry and assisted the IWTO staff by serving as the coordinator of the young professionals at the 2016 Congress in Sydney, Australia.

Connect with Monica Ebert here



IWTO Young Professionals Program

Find out more about the IWTO Young Professionals Program here


Malcolm Campbell Wool Academy Podcast #013

#013: Malcolm Campbell about how textile education is crucial for the future of the wool industry

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In this episode Weaver, Entrepreneur and Author Malcolm Campbell talks about his book series project called Malcolm the Weaver. Through his books Malcolm educates 4 to 8 year old children about the art of colour and the craft of textiles. Malcolm points out the issues that we have within the textile industry today and long-term if we don’t get children, teenagers and students excited about textiles. Malcolm shares the experiences he had with his book project and his future plans going forward.

Sharon Campbell - Illustrator of the Malcolm the Weaver Books

Sharon Campbell – Illustrator of the Malcolm the Weaver Books

About Malcolm Campbell

Malcolm Campbell began his career in this glorious textile industry in 1970, as apprentice weaver and textile designer for A&J Macnab of Haddington in Scotland, he attended the Scottish College of textiles in Galashiels on block release, and in 1975 was awarded the City & Guilds of London Institute certificate in Textile Design and Colour, and Business Management. In 1975 Malcolm moved to Yorkshire as assistant designer with Hirst & Mallinson of Huddersfield, and in 1978 was appointed Sales and Marketing Director of West Riding Fabrics in Leeds. He moved into the retail sector, and back to Scotland, in 1983 with The Edinburgh Woollen Mill, as design and marketing Director, and in 1990, moved back to Yorkshire as design, sales and marketing Director for the Parkland Group. Malcolm was appointed Managing Director of Alexander Drew, textile printers in Rochdale in 2000, and in 2002, became marketing Director for The Woolmark Company, in Ilkley, until 2007, when he joined the Holland & Sherry Group as sales and marketing Director. Malcolm is currently working for Retail & Textile Co., on projects in Egypt with GoldenTex Wool Co., Europe and USA.
Textile Centre of Excellence Annual Awards Presentation Ceremony Huddersfield 25/11/16 (Pic by John Rushworth) .

Textile Centre of Excellence Annual Awards Presentation Ceremony Huddersfield 25/11/16 (Pic by John Rushworth)

In 2004 he was appointed the first ever Scotsman to be President of the Bradford Textile Society, and in 2006 was awarded fellowships of the Society of Dyers and Colourists, The Textile Institute, and the Royal Society of Arts. He has lectured on wool globally, to Australian farmers, various industry sectors, and to textile design students. Malcolm believes that textile education is crucial to the future of our industry, not only to the technicians, but to the retailers, the retail sales staff, and the consumer, to stop price depreciation, and the move to less expensive, expendable cloths, and to re-establish the versatility and the outstanding value of Nature’s wonderful luxury natural fibres.
Malcolm has published two children’s books, ‘Malcolm the weaver’, to educate 4 to 8-year-old children in the art of colour and the craft of textiles. 

Connect with Malcolm Campbell here

Galina Witting Co-founder of Baabuk

#012: Galina Witting about wool shoe startup Baabuk

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In this episode, Galina Witting, co-founder of Baabuk, talks about how she and her husband came up with the idea for their wool shoe label Baabuk. Galina shares the key challenges and learnings she had at Baabuk and how she manages the different aspects of her business including sourcing, e-commerce and social media. Baabuk also launched with the support of a Kickstarter Campaign which she explains in this episode as well.


About Galina Witting

Galina graduated from HEC Lausanne, Business school of Switzerland. For several years she worked for a multination company in Switzerland and abroad acquiring strong project management and marketing skills. At Baabuk she takes care in particular of the marketing and communication, sales, new product development, and administration.

Connect with Galina Witting here

Website Baabuk

Kickstarter Campaign

Baabuk on Facebook

Baabuk on Twitter

Baabuk on Instagram








Wool Academy Podcast 011 with Roy Kettlewell

#011: Roy Kettlewell explains how finishing processes bring out the best in wool

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In this episode, wool specialist Roy Kettlewell explains the different wool finishing processes, relevant wool product tests and shares his insights about why wool succeeds in the sports, casual and baby wear markets.

About Roy Kettlewell

Roy started his career 43 years ago in his birthplace of Yorkshire, UK,  working for the International Wool Secretariat, and then The Woolmark Company specialising in chemical finishing and developing innovative technologies and processes such as the Mercerised Merino for the wool fibre.  For the last eight years he has been based in Sydney Australia working for Australian Wool Innovation as Global Innovations Manager and since July 2016 as an independent consultant with Kettlewell Consulting.

Over the last four decades he has worked with entire wool processing pipeline from the raw fibre to garment making; in Europe, USA, China, India to implement the new technologies and deliver a point of difference for the industry. At the same time he has collaborated with global retailers and manufacturers to help, through training key staff, to communicate the benefits of merino wool innovations to the consumer.  The key to successful innovation is to make sure it meets a market need and enhances value in the eyes of the customer.

Connect with Roy Kettlewell here

Website: Kettlewell Consulting


3 Finishing processing stages Roy talked about

  • Preparation
  • Wet Processing
  • Dry Processing


Important product tests Roy mentioned in this episode

  • Fibre content
  • Colour fastness
  • Damage or stability
  • Garment performance during wear life




Rob Langtry on social media for the wool industry

#010: Rob Langtry on social media for the wool industry

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In this episode Marketing and Communications strategist, Rob Langtry, gives recommendations on how to approach social media as a business within the wool supply chain. Rob also gives advice on how to find the resources to do marketing and communications for one’s business and products. This episode is part 2 of a 2 part series. Listen to the first part of the interview in episode 09.

About Rob Langtry

Rob Langtry is the Chairman and CEO of Consultus Counsel. To quote one of Australia’s leading, globally-awarded Executive Creative Directors: ”Australia has produced many great marketers and many great creative strategists. Rob Langtry is one of a small number who have climbed to the top of both trees and few, if any, have applied their skills and experience with greater success on more foreign shores.” Of the many senior roles Rob has held in any hemisphere and on either side of the client/agency divide, the one which required him to draw most heavily on this wealth of experience was his role Global Chief Strategy and Marketing Officer with Australian Wool Innovation Limited/Woolmark International for the last 7 years.

Connect with Rob Langtry here

LinkedIn profile


Elisabeth: We established the different steps that people can take to tackle communications. But there is another issues, that wool industry members face that is that they are often small to medium size companies and often they don’t have a dedicated person responsible for communications, it is then just part of someone’s job role who is typically not skilled to do communications. What do you think is the danger of such a set up and how would you recommend that people do have people really responsible for that or get help from outside?

Rob: I think it is different things for different sized companies. What I would say is that the responsibility for marketing and product, and by marketing I use that in its broader sense which is basically sales and business development, that responsibility rests with the Chief Executive Officer. And doing it effectively rests at the top of the company. In saying that many Executives don’t have the time necessarily to look after advertising copy. There are two sources I would suggest. If you don’t have the financial resources to employ someone who is a dedicated marketer, then I think using your staff and using the broadest range of your staff to contribute to the communications process is a very good way to short hand that and to get engagement. Again, thinking through the plan may or may not be something you can do internally but then executing it, don’t overlook the fact that many of your staff are active communicators across all range of people. Of course you can use external resources and marketing agencies and promotional agencies exist in anyone of the key markets where growers, processors and retailers work. And there are different types of agencies that you can engage. The simplest approach is to employ a graphic design company to do the basic design and develop your key brand asset, but then use those internally through your management team or through your staff as a way of getting those out into the market. For a scale up in terms of the resources that you want then, promotional agencies, advertising and marketing services agencies are all there. You don’t necessarily need to go to the best in the business or biggest in the business. Many of those companies that used to be very expensive on a retainer basis, now will look at projects if your brand is something that they see as something particular relevant or interesting, too. So you can use an internal resource or model or an external resource or model, be it a marketing services or communications agency or a combination of those. What I think is really important is to understand that the brand that you own, that brand identity and resource that you own is a very powerful thing and it is also where a lot of the investment you make, be it internal, external, large or small that value accrues to a brand and you need to manage that brand as it is one of the assets of the business. It is not the case of looking at a business and its only assets are physical machinery that produce a product. The intellectual property that attaches to a brand is equally as valuable on the books, if you like, as is the physical capital equipment. So don’t underrate the resource that is relevant to apply to building and maintaining that key intellectual asset if you like.

Elisabeth: Just to continue with that thought. If companies decide to invest into communications. What would be the benefits that they could expect from this kind of investment?

Rob:  What I said before that in the past the industry saw itself primarily as a commodity producer, I think the first benefit is that, and we have proven this with the AWI campaigns, is that investing in marketing and building communications connections with consumers B2B or B2C, stronger pricing and better margins tend to be the most measurable result. It will depend on how much intensity there is on how quickly you will get price return or a stronger margin out of that, but bottom line is that you cannot expect higher prices and margins if you don’t increase demand. And weather that is demand from the supply chain or demand from the end consumer. Demand is the key to building price and to build margin. The other thing I would say, is that greater engagement with the company and its brand usually, what is means is that you get stronger levels of loyalty. If you open your wool spinning business to an audience that is increasingly looking to know where the end product comes from and you have an active dialog with that audience, when they next go to buy a suit in Saville Row or in downtown Milan or Frankfurt, they may well think about the fibre, the yarn or the fabric as much as they think of the brand. That means that they are increasingly loyal to your brand and every repeat purchase is a lower cost per sale so in effect what you are doing by creating a relationship through communication you are ultimately lowering the cost of sales, because you are going to get better repeat purchase from an engaged consumer who knows and has a preference for your brand. Ultimately if we go back to where we started and we talked about defining an audience how you define a target market. If you believe that your employees are a key asset, and if you believe and I am sure you would, shareholders and all of those stakeholders, in part they are very rational towards your business, but in part it is an emotional decision that they trust and invest in your brand. I think having a cohesive communication strategy and executing that well leads to stronger shareholder value and stronger stakeholder equity in your company. Because their emotional trust that you can continue to build business and do it profitably will be a positive outcome of seeing your company communicating very consistently with its audiences and indeed with them.

Elisabeth: One of the things that I learned in university, you know sometimes you have these sentences that stick with you somehow and it was: you cannot not communicate, which means that even if you don’t put any form of communications out there you are still delivering a message but that message is probably something you don’t want people to hear about you. So the other day I was going to a website of a weaver and it was very very basic, and it didn’t give me any information so the impression that I had of this weaver is that they were maybe not trustworthy or not professional although their products are probably of very high quality but what they were communicating didn’t come across like that at all. That is something I remind myself of, you want to make sure you deliver the key messages that you want people to hear and not what they might then start to assume if you don’t communicate with your stakeholders.

Rob: That is absolutely true, if you can’t be a part of the communication or the conversation then you really can’t control exceptions, exactly as you say, you need to be an active participant in the conversation weather the person you are talking to is further up the supply chain or down, or it is an end consumer.

Elisabeth: Earlier we briefly touched on social media and in an manufacturing industry such as the wool industry companies do struggle a little bit asking themselves what is my role in social media? Because you have a lot of experience with social media for the wool industry what would be your recommendation? How should companies address social media?

Rob: Someone once said to me. Whether you are an CEO or a taxi driver we all consume media as a consumer. Everyone consumes media in a professional but also in a personal case. And I think you have to think of social media as being very pervasive these days. Whether you are 60 or 16 usually people are engaging with a very broad media like Facebook, like Twitter, in a professional sense like linked in. Even in China looking at WeChat and looking at a number of those social media, they have massive levels of engagement. And while people might engage with them initially on a very personal or private basis, that means that your audience, which is a professional audience is engaging in social media. So you have to think of social media as being pretty pervasive across all of those key communication targets that you have identified. How do you start? Well the first thing I think is you start with stating very clearly who your stakeholders are and where they live and what they do on a day to day basis. It might be if you have limited resources you focus on those that are more commercially available for example LinkedIn. But in most cases, if you understand who the stakeholders are you can get to understand what social media are more likely to be used by them. In terms of explaining what you make in the content and how you do that. I think, IWTO in particular has done a good job in explaining the role and the  growing interest in Corporate Social Responsibility and I think all of the suppliers, all of the components of the supply chain and all of the participants of the supply chain now understand fairly clearly that wool has a story to tell in that area. It well may be that talking about your part of that within the area that you manufacture for example as a spinner and talking about that with LinkedIn and with the social media context of your employees and your key accounts and your staff that might be the right way to start. What I would say is that social media is not a solution for a total communications program. The more we learn about the interaction with social media, the more we understand that it is primarily a peer to peer medium. So it is me talking to you and not necessarily talking to people that I don’t know or I don’t trust. And in that sense, referrals from your own staff, from for example a supplier that uses your product , from a designer that has connections with other designers in fashion those sorts of areas are the place to start. Once you get to a level of presence in a social medium that is probably the first stage. If you are looking at a broader communications strategy which requires building a brand with end consumers then you do need to look at things like cost effectiveness at measuring the conversion of understanding the purchase and a lot of that data is available and it is actually available on very simple searches on the internet. Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn all have publicly available data on who looks at what content, where and how. And I think simply being sensitive on how different people use social media can help you define how to do it. But going back to that core though. I think your staff, your management, even those people who you sell to and sell through those are people who are primarily your targets and they are all not only commercial people but they are social people as well. And if you see them as that then that is perhaps the first thing of thinking through how you use social media.

Elisabeth: There are huge opportunities that companies should not miss out on. I am just thinking of LinkedIn. Sometimes if you search certain wool companies on LinkedIn they didn’t yet take the time to fill in the basics of their company which is just a loss of opportunity that is so easy to take. And especially young people who might be looking for a job they might look on LinkedIn to find out more about your company. I think that would be an area where companies can quite easily make use of social media platforms that are out there.

Rob: I could not agree more, I think that is a great idea and I think LinkedIn is a very good medium to do that. There are also probably regional media depending on where you sit. I know that there are similar opportunities within the Chinese market and the Japanese market. So, yes I agree LinkedIn is a low cost, relatively straight forward process to build that as an asset and why wouldn’t you do it.

Elisabeth: And again it comes down to ‘you cannot not communicate’, because if nothing can be found about your company, what does that say about your company? Going back to social media in general. And I think you mentioned that earlier, that social media is very content hungry and you have lots of experience in creating social media content. What kind of secrets do you have to share with us if we want to create our own social media content.

Rob: I don’t think there are secrets. But firstly you need to remember that social media has not been around that long, I cannot remember the actual date but it is less than a decade. So most other media, people understand through continuous research how it works and what engages what consumer audience most clearly. Social media is still a little bit of a learning process. Things that I think we learned at AWI was that the first thing is relevance. You need to be relevant to the audience. So when you think through creating a piece of social media content, for example a video, then make sure you understand who you expect to look at that. And what they want to get out of it. It is very easy to say I work in the fashion business, but if you are not a part of fashion design then the people who should be talking about fashion are those that are being recognized as experts in their field. If you are an expert in wool growing then that is obviously something you can talk about. And that leads to the second thing. Authenticity is key. What the consumers of social media have learned or who have grown up with them. It is very easy to know who is genuine, who is authentic and who is simply pushing a sales message. And because it is a peer to peer medium you have to be very careful that what you say and how you say it is authentic, it is the truth of you as opposed to just a sales message that is being overly crafted. The difference between social media and traditional media is that when people discover that you are perhaps just trying to sell them something that maybe doesn’t have the level of integrity they expect they will verfiy you in that medium and they will do it in real time. So relevance and authenticity. We talked about engaging content and I think increasingly consumer expectations grow over time. That content should probably focus on video content. the other reason why video is preferred is because it is emotionally more engaging, it is a three dimensional story telling medium as opposed to flat. And the final thing I would say is think carefully about the specific social media that you are using. Some allow slightly longer video content and some are very short. If you use vine, vine has a very high penetration in younger generations but in very short length of video. Where in YouTube, you can run 5, 7 or even 9 or 12 minutes videos. So with the same shoot that you do initially, with the same investment in production, make sure that it is able to be customized so that the link and the follow lead can be the most relevant to the particular social medium that you jump into.

Elisabeth: And as you said earlier that the wool industry has so many wonderful stories to tell. I think compared to other fibres we are so lucky that we have so many parts of our industry that lend themselves so well to tell stories. So we have these beautiful sheep and such a large variety of sheep around the world, we have farmers who do so many great things for the environment and for the sheep and then the supply chain, the processing is very unique and lots of attention to detail and then we have these beautiful products that are made out of wool, so there are so many opportunities to tell these beautiful stories. I hope we inspire the wool industry some more to start telling these stories.

Rob: I think what you hear nowadays more is the concept of an artisan. Someone who draws on heritage and history, learns a craft or trade or an ability to do something and then continues to do that. Even if they have to do that in a more modern context. For me why I became so deeply involved in the wool industry. To be honest I was used to on Monday it is Coca Cola and Thursday it is soft drink and on Friday it is L’Oréal. One of the reasons why I got very involved in the wool industry was understanding just how artisanal the skills and the investment is in producing goods out of wool. It is such an incredibly rich source of stories. Right away through the supply chain. I mean I worry that spinners think they don’t have anything to say and then I walk through some of the factories in Biella and I look at how they blend product dyes, and how they make sure they that the dyes don’t run in final production, or they do a short run of a particular customized colour. These are things that consumers today want to know. These are artisanal skills that make a differentiated end product. I think that is a really valuable thing that sometimes people through the supply chain don’t recognize that as an asset. So for me I would be encouraging at every step along that supply chain people to look at what they do and look at it form a point of view as what do I do differently than putting a very crude oil chip back into a refinery and pumping out plastic fibre at the other end. That is not a great story to be able to tell. That is not of the depth of running form Tasmania and growing merino sheep to blending a specified dye in Biella to weaving it in the north of England and producing a Saville Row suit.

Elisabeth: Often when we are an expert in something, we don’t realise or appreciate that we have such a specific knowledge that people are interested in.

Thank you for the interesting discussion we had today. I learned a lot. That is all for today. But before we close, how can people get in touch with you.

Rob: Either through you or by email at I am based in Sydney. I am travelling a bit, but I am always accessible on email. Get in touch any time. One of the things that I really think is of interest, and for me it is a personal thing rather than a commercial thing. If I can be of any help to anyone in the supply chain that can help guarantee a growth or a continuation of the demand for Australia’s merino wool that is  a very valuable thing for me as an Australian. And if anyone wants to tab into my knowledge, I am more than happy to share it.



Rob Langtry Interview Wool Academy Podcast

#009: Rob Langtry on strategic communications

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In this episode Marketing and Communications strategist, Rob Langtry, explains how today’s communication environment has changed dramatically and how wool industry businesses along the whole supply chain can successfully communicate the story of wool. Rob explains why it is important to no longer view wool as a commodity but a value adding component in order for wool to achieve higher price premiums. Rob also shares his 7 step process on how to develop a marketing and communications strategy. This episode is part 1 of a 2 part series. Listen to the second part of the interview in episode 10.

About Rob Langtry

Rob Langtry is the Chairman and CEO of Consultus Counsel. To quote one of Australia’s leading, globally-awarded Executive Creative Directors: ”Australia has produced many great marketers and many great creative strategists. Rob Langtry is one of a small number who have climbed to the top of both trees and few, if any, have applied their skills and experience with greater success on more foreign shores.” Of the many senior roles Rob has held in any hemisphere and on either side of the client/agency divide, the one which required him to draw most heavily on this wealth of experience was his role Global Chief Strategy and Marketing Officer with Australian Wool Innovation Limited/Woolmark International for the last 7 years.

Connect with Rob Langtry here

LinkedIn profile

The 7 step process to develop a communications strategy

  1. Define business, brand marketing and communications goals
  2. Define target group – stakeholders – include  supply chain and staff
  3. Prepare a marketing communications strategy for a 3 year period and include metrics
  4. Define key messages
  5. Identify the communication tools that will achieve the goals, reach the target group and get across the key messages in a compelling way
  6. Execute the plan and monitor metrics – real time where possible
  7. Adjust step and repeat



Elisabeth: Today on the show we have Rob Langtry and since my background is in communications, Rob has always been one of my personal super heroes of the wool industry. I had the pleasure of meeting Rob during my time at IWTO when he worked for 7 years as the Global Chief Strategy and Marketing Officer at the Australian Wool Innovation and Woolmark Company. What always amazed me is how much value Rob contributed to the wool industry through his strategic marketing campaigns. There are a few of his campaigns that I want to mention in particular, where Rob showed great leadership in making these campaigns a success. These include the Woolmark Prize, the Campaign for Wool, which we talked about many times already on the show, and he and his team also launched wool week in 10 major retail markets successfully. Today Rob has his own brand and communications consulting business under the name Consultus Counsel.  And that is as much as I am going to say about Rob because the problem is when you are as experienced and  successful as Rob then your biography just becomes way too long. Well Rob what more can I say besides welcoming you to the Wool Academy Podcast and it is a great honour to have you on the show. How are you today?

Rob: Very well, thank you Elisabeth, and it is really great to talk to you. It’s a bit of a glowing introduction, but it’s a bit of fun and I really enjoyed working on many industries but most of all the wool industry. That has kept me very busy for the last seven years with AWI and the Australian Wool Industry and even prior to that working for a number of years as a consultant to the wool industry board here. So my background is as you say Business Planning, Strategic Marketing, Management Consulting and I am advising a number of clients.

Elisabeth: I am especially excited because we will talk about my favorite topic, which besides wool is communications. I think you will give our listeners a lot of value today. Should we dive right into it?

Rob: Yes, let’s dive into it.

Elisabeth: How would you describe in your own words how communications for businesses has changed over the recent years.

Rob: I think over the last two decades in particular, the business of communications has basically reinvented itself totally. What we have seen is that it has been a very traditional set of media that has been in consideration probably for 30 or 40 years, and by traditional I mean TV, radio, print, outdoor. All of that has now been put into a different context with the emergence of digital media, online and most recently social media. That in itself has led to a really dramatic fragmentation of how to reach your audience. If we are talking about a global product like wool, it is a really difficult challenge to identify what are the most cost efficient ways of reaching the right audience. And for that reason we really had to redefine how the consumer now purchases. If you look at the use of media by the consumers in the luxury and high end of the fashion market for example it is quite common now that they are online, offline and in store as different ways of looking at a product prior, during and after the purchase. So if you are looking at a whole cycle of consumer awareness, understanding, through desire, through purchase and then post product satisfaction you really have to look at a very different and much more complex way of reaching the consumer. The positive part of that is with the advent of far greater computing power, we often hear about big data, the big data implies that it is massive and in fact, the data basis of that is massive, but the insights that we can get are much more precise and in that complex environment you need to have precision to try to target cost effectively.

Elisabeth: How well do you think has the wool industry embraced the possibilities that we have now with communications?

Rob: It is interesting, when I started with wool one of the things that I used to do quite a lot is go out to growers and the first question we would open a seminar or discussion with would be ‘tell me what business you are in’. And 99% of the answers would be ‘I am in the business of growing wool’. And my answer to that would be ‘No, you are in the business of fashion apparel. And that caused a little bit of consternation. But in reality the wool industry was very slow to embrace the need to tell its story, typically it saw itself as a commodity producer without seeing the downside of it. The downside was that if you are a commodity producer you tend to be a price-taker. Over the last, I suppose 10 – 15 years in particular, we have seen that slowly change in some areas. The high fashion brands and the brands that sell in their own branded boutiques and department stores have really rapidly accelerated the use of more digital media and todays communications opportunities more recently. There are some brilliant examples of how the consumer or retail end of the wool industry is using mass communications now very well. What I would say, if you look down the supply chain backwards towards the grower, the way that the whole industry has embraced communications is quite fragmented. The closer you get to the origin of the fibre and its processing, the less likely you are to see proactive marketing going on in support of the fibre. As an example AWI and the Woolmark business was fairly passive for about a decade before 2010. I still see a degree of passivity in marketing with the early stage processors, spinners and weavers, even though they are talking to a business to business market. There has not been rapid embrace if you like of digital media and of creating stories that can relate how each of these companies adds either to the end product that it is produced into or promoting their businesses. So, I guess the short answer is, it has been fairly fragmented, it is different to the rate of adoption in different levels of the supply chain. But if you look at the consumer end of it, at the brands, some of those brands are leading edge in terms of embracing social media.

Elisabeth: What always amazed me during my time when I worked at IWTO is when we asked members what they thought needed improvement in the wool industry to be more successful one of the topics that always came up was that the wool industry thought that there was a need for more promotion and communications and I always wondered because we do have these wonderful campaigns that Woolmark does or which the Campaign for Wool does and many other industry members but still it was perceived as not being enough. Why do you think does the wool industry feel that it is not enough and how could more promotion be done for wool and the wool industry?

Rob: I think they feel that it is not enough, because what they really see is promotion at the very front end or the grower end of the business which is AWI and Woolmark and at the very sharp end of the business which is retail. You don’t see a lot of participation in the business of marketing through the other elements of the supply chain, there is not a lot of collaboration. If you look at other industries, for example the cotton industry, you find that there is probably deeper engagement in the various steps along the supply chain with the end result of marketing cotton apparel. There has been a good solid and consistent track record of people who are advertising for example Supima cotton. Supima being on the label, being in communications and the various producers being involved in the story. Wool is probably coming to that quite late and it is really been left to either end of the supply chain, rather than a more collaborative effort across the supply chain. I have often heard exactly what you have heard which is why isn’t there more promotion being done. And I suspect the other component to that is that the industry saw itself as being a commodity of price-taker and as such they really understand the need to communicate in order to differentiate the fibre in order for wool to be seen as a value adding component to fashion apparel and footwear. That lack of the value of differentiation, the value of the story of wool is probably what held that sense of are we promoting enough. Once AWI started we have seen a number of the supply chain brands start to move in that area. One example is Scabal. We worked closely with Scabal and they took a line of saying, ok we can identify the source of our wool fibre, we are going to celebrate the fact that it is spun, woven and produced into clothing and then tell that story to our consumer. The result of that is that it allows Scabal to really substantiate a higher than average market price for the product, because the products ingredients is seen to be of value. I think there are still people in the industry who see wool as a commodity and don’t see it as being value adding in the whole business of creating an apparel. The other part I would say as we reposition wool as a luxury ingredient, the luxury business really requires a heavy reliance on communications and highly targeted and quite often people in the supply chain don’t tap in to what is happening. I will give you an example by introducing the International Woolmark Prize. What we were doing is leading a series of events to market wool. Where I think most of the supply chain would say that advertisement is the way to go. The problem is that marketing has really moved on to the point where if you don’t have live interaction, where you don’t have events and social media then you really don’t get the visibility in a very competitive environment of where do I buy my next piece of clothing. Greater engagement with designers and retailers helps them becoming more active and I think that response you have heard of there is not enough promotion for wool is starting to change as we see retailers more deeply involved. In know in the recent conference that was held in Scotland with His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales the principal supporter of that event was Marks & Spencer. 10 years ago or even 7 years ago Marks & Spencer wouldn’t necessarily focus on the wool ingredient product story and here they are now basically actively engaged in the campaign for wool as an public advocate for wool using it as an ingredient product. I think you will see that has changed, but the bottom line is without collaboration across the supply chain and greater engagement by all the parties involved it is likely that wool is not as visible and it is seen not as sufficient in the face of other products out there as for example cotton.


Elisabeth: What you said, that there is a need for stronger engagement within the industry to collaborate, that was also one of the key topics that always came up that there was a need for more collaboration. And the other thing you said was that it has become more complex, that is what you referred to at the beginning of our conversation. As you know many of the companies might recognize that they need to do more communications however they then often struggle with time or their resources and what recommendations do you have for these companies, what steps can they take to improve their communications and where would be the right place to start?

Rob: That is a broad and pretty compelling question. I would start by saying that marketing used to be seen by the wool industry as a whole as a fluffy part of the business they know. That is not the case any more in the 21st century. Marketing is a core all engaging discipline, that needs a whole company approach. In saying that, yes there are companies with limited resources and I worked with quite a number of those, even with some of the more sophisticated spinners of the market, that haven’t really had a Marketing capability. For me there are about 7 steps that I think any business should take.

Step 1: The first is what probably comes natural. Just to clearly define the business that the company is in. Unless that definition of the business includes where the consumer market is, where the product ends up in consumer terms, it is likely that communications will take less of a focus. Define the business. Do it in terms of not only the process, the industrial market but the end product it contributes to. The other thing is to recognize that any business in the supply chain is in fact a brand. And what I mean by that is: a brand is where all that value occurs of the investment you are making in marketing your product. Whether you are an industrial supplier, or B2B market or B2C, having a clear understanding of what your business is or what its public face is to produce wool. Those things of defining the business well and brand marketing should enable you to define some pretty clear communication goals. So that is step 1.

Step 2: Once you know those goals, it is really clearly defining who your target audiences, target markets are. Who are your key stakeholders that will impact your ability of meeting those business and communication goals. One of the things I find that people forget is that one of the most powerful marketing assets you have is actually the staff of the company. And I don’t just mean the management staff. As consumers want more and  more information around where the product comes from, staff become very solid assets in terms of helping tell that story. So defining all the stakeholders and making sure that the definition of a target audience is very clear and very compassing, it’s a very critical 2nd step.

Step 3:  Is make sure that you prepare a marketing communication strategy that isn’t just tactics. It is not just about the next six months, the next season show, the next edition of Premiere Vision. It really needs to encompass a three year business cycle. When you do that marketing and communication strategy every component of it should include the metrics by which you are going to measure its success. One of the things that can come unstuck in marketing is if you don’t have clear metrics you really become very subjective whether or not things have been a success or failure. So making sure that you do a proper three year strategy, include the metrics before you then dive into the tactical elements that you might execute in one season is pretty important.

Step 4: What are the key messages that you want to communicate to those core target groups that you have defined in the strategy. And here it is important not to be all things to all people. But be very focused on your key benefit and your key differentiation between yourself and your competitors and the key benefit ultimately to your consumer.

Step 5: Identify those tools that will help you achieve those goals. By tools I mean not just the channels that we were talking about before. Not just traditional, digital and social media but also the content that is going to carry the messages. Increasingly what you see with the fragmentation of media is the need to have really significant compelling well produced content and increasingly that content is video content. Telling a story in a statics medium is well and good. But the most highly engaging media tend to rely on good quality video, very focused on what it is that you want to get across to the consumer.

Step 6: Make sure that you execute the plan. It is very east to be distracted by shiny new things and many number of companies even in the very sophisticated consumer goods areas get distracted by the fact that there is yet another social media. The point of writing a strategy and a plan is that it is thought through well and is executed. Some of the tactics may be adjusted time after time, but the bottom line is you need to execute the plan that you have written.

Step 7: You are not really finished until you have assessed, reviewed, monitored, adjusted and then repeat the process. These are the 7 steps to make this a success.

To your question initially do you need to identify an internal resource to do that, I think you can start by actually getting the plan clearly laid out. Making sure it clearly articulates what your business is, what the priorities are, who you are talking to, what you want to say to them, how you want them to respond and measuring that level of response.

Elisabeth: I would like to go deeper into point 5. When you talked about the channels. I was talking to a client the other day who was investing a lot of money into advertisement in magazines. And he was realizing that many of his target audience wasn’t reading those magazines any more so that was a learning for him. But then that leaves you with the question into which communication tools do I need to invest in. What would you say to a client like that?

Rob: You need to have clarity about what it is that you want to say. But the other component to that is to understand how each of the media options that you have work and who listens. There is a lot of research around about which audiences it delivers to and to what form of engagement different channels deliver. Social media has been an obsession of a lot advertisers for the last few years. But common sense is that it is only one medium that impacts the consumer. At the same time that we have seen the explosion of social media we have seen reality TV come up. Reality TV tends to work in a slightly different way and you can present a slightly more crafted and directed message to a broader audience. While Social media is a peer to peer media where people talk about your product and it is more about the experiences. Outdoor media, instore media, all of these things work quite differently. So it is just a matter, if you don’t have the research to apply some common sense and thinking through if I want to reach a particular target audience member, a guy who is planning to buy a new suit for example. Typically what sort of lifestyle would they have, what media would they be exposed to in what context. One of the things that I find very useful with a 14 year old daughter, thinking about the fashion industry, is simply watching how she consumes media. And many of our colleagues of the wool industry will have sons or daughters who of target audience age group and have a media consumption profile. And just having a look at how they use different media and when they use it is important. One of the key dynamics that is happening right now is the absolute explosion of mobile and high end telephone technology in terms of its role of informing consumers as they go through that path to purchase. Smart phones because they have access to the internet as well as to social media is really driving a lot of consumer behavior changes in terms of media consumptions. So when you do actually look at channels you are going to use, assume that whatever you create for those channels needs to be viable for mobile media, either it is television consumption or social media or whether it is webpages, they absolutely need to be mobile phone friendly.  But from my point of view it all goes back to strategy. If you are really clear on what it is that you want to do. There is enough information around to identify how the different media options work. And it is matching those options to how you want to engage, weather you want to build brand awareness, in a particular target audience, weather you actually want to convert awareness to desire and transact with you on a mobile or website for example. It is just really being clear on the strategy. The other thing I would say, and I made this point earlier,  when you are developing content that you want to push out in the media, it is important to be focused, you cannot be all things to all people. If you have a particular brand and you have a particular set of attributes that you want to communicate then don’t be distracted by telling different stories in  different media. Tell the same story in the relevant format in to each of the media. I’ll give you an example, we started a program, started by a very very bright video producer, Ari at AWI, called The Source. And The source was about telling the story of wool growers from different areas in Australia and how they produce their merino wool. When we produced that content we made it available in what we call spamable links, so a length of less than 2 minutes, we made sure it worked on YouTube, Vimeo, on our websites and we tried to use that content in as many different ways as we could by planning up front how flexible the formats needed to be. And I think that is the case for any of the people thinking about marketing their products and advertising and communicating its benefits is to make sure that whatever you produce gives you that flexible use for different media you are applying it to. [/spp-transcript]

Chris Tattersall from The Wool Room

#008: Chris Tattersall about selling a better night’s sleep with wool

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In this episode, Managing Director of the Wool Room, Chris Tattersall talks about selling wool by delivering a better night’s sleep. Chris gives insights on the importance of the trend on health and wellbeing among consumers and how to address consumer’s concerns and barriers of wool. He also touches on the business and marketing strategy of the Wool Room and how the industry can help sell more wool in the market of sleep.

About Chris Tattersall

Born to one of Lancashire’s cotton textile families it seems slightly ironic for Chris Tattersall to be working in the world of wool but he has worked within the Textile Industry for all his working life.  Chris started his career within the Furnishing Fabrics market with Osborne and Little and then moved to the bed market initially as Key Account Manager for one of the UK’s largest bed manufacturers, Relyon, ending up as Managing Director for the last 3 years of his 14 year career there. After a short stint working for Hilding Anders Chris felt he needed to change direction and work in a business where he could influence the end result and indeed the consumer to a greater degree and it was in 2012 that Chris literally “bumped into” Jo Dawson at Heimtextil and the rest is history….  Together they remodelled the Wool Room, formed a working partnership to run the business and  have grown the business significantly in the last four years to become one of the leading destinations for Natural, Healthy Sleep with British wool at the heart of their product portfolio.

Connect with Chris Tattersall here

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