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Andrea Thilo, Dörte Spengler-Ahrens Tarek Müller (v.l.n.r.) © Yvonne Scheller

About You going from storytelling to storydoing

"Is there a 'unicorn formula', Tarek?" Hamburg News talks to Müller about young shoppers

About You is alive and flourishing: “In just four years, we have achieved a brand awareness of almost 100 per cent among under 30 year olds,” said Tarek Müller, joint Managing Director, at the Art Directors Club (ADC) Creative Festival held in May at the Kampnagel. Founded in 2014, About You is Hamburg’s first unicorn and worth USD 1 billion as it continues to grow rapidly.

Personalized suggestions per app

The start-up is aiming for digitalised shopping sprees. Shoppers can obtain personalised suggestions for outfits on the company’s app. “Our smartphone app serves very different needs with personalized suggestions,” said Müller. It caters to customers, who are keen to shop quickly, those looking for ideas and trend followers or people who want like to dress like their favourite celebrities and influencers.

About You as an event organizer

Asked whether there is a “unicorn formula”, Müller said: “When it comes to addressing customers, we don’t just rely on digital means.” Apart from marketing tools like posters, advertising or commercials, the company has developed various event formats including the About You Awards, its weekly TV show About You – The Fashion Duell (The Fashon Duel) on Germany’s free-to-air television network ProSieben. “That allows us to communicate directly with our customers without the detour to different advertising formats as gatekeepers. And that works so well that individual events are refinancing themselves,” he noted. Conventional marketing is losing appeal among young people who simply ignore “classic 30 second TV spots”.

Social media – top means of reaching young people

Yet, emotional advertising with convincing storytelling can strike a note, although it does not go far enough, Müller added: “We have to go from storytelling to story doing or story diving.” This is where events prove important. About You’s younger target groups love posting photos and stories on Facebook and Instagram, which are out of the company’s control unlike well-planned commercials. Decor built specially for About You events is photographed and posted on the internet, Müller said. This can lead to surprisingly genuine, but effective communication. “Social media are the number one tool for reaching young people.”

“No anarchic structures”

And what does everyday work look like inside About You? The fashion start-up, owned by the Otto Group, placed second in the “Young Companies” category at XING’s New Work Awards last year. Is the mood creative, are there flexible methods and flat hierarchies? Yes and no, Müller said. “We don’t have any anarchic structures, people value clear leadership. But when it comes to practicalities and turning an idea around, they want to be left alone.” About You values eye level, everyday communication regardless of hierarchical positions.

Hamburg attracting talent from abroad

Yet, the We’re hiring announcement on the company’s website indicates that the shortage of skilled workers is also being felt at About You. The brand’s high profile is advantageous and Hamburg’s reputation as a location is helpful in the search for employees at home and abroad, Müller noted, adding: “It is simply a city worth living in thanks also to the many green spaces. The result is a good mix. You can find peace and quiet here, but there’s also lots going on for those looking for action and parties.”

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