“A Swedish high school graduate decides to leave home for a backpacking adventure in Australia and returns with nothing less than one of the greatest business ideas of our times.” If Daniel Wellington’s story was a novel, this is how one could summarize it.

But there is more to this story: In fact, it is mostly social influencers Daniel Wellington owes its success to! So, welcome back to our article series on influencer marketing. As promised previously, we take you on a journey through a best practice example in the field of influencer marketing today.
Join us in this second article to learn more about Daniel Wellington’s outstanding strategy – and start unfolding the full potential of social influencers in digital marketing!

How Daniel Wellington created a business empire from scratch
Photo by Helloquence on Unsplash

It all started in the year of 2011: Filip Tysander who had just graduated from a Swedish high school met an Englishman named Daniel Wellington on a backpacking trip to Australia. Tysander was fascinated by Wellington’s vintage Rolex watch which – unlike most formal style watches – wasn’t attached to a leather or metal strap but to a fabric one.

Inspired by the combination of a classy watch and an affordable nylon strap, Tysander founded Daniel Wellington which should later become one of the fastest growing European companies. With a starting investment of less than $ 25.000, Tysander truly started his business from scratch. By the year of 2014, however, the young Swede had sold more than one million watches and the company keeps growing ever since. In 2015, revenues increased to $ 170 million. Last year, the brand reported $ 230 million in revenues. Even more impressive is the fact that Daniel Wellington watches are sold at a gross margin of approximately 50% which makes the brand extremely profitable. It is due to a strong branding strategy that Daniel Wellington became one of the leading watch brands in Europe.

The secrets behind Daniel Wellington’s marketing strategy
Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

Unlike competing brands such as Swatch and Rolex, Daniel Wellington doesn’t pay large amounts of money to celebrities in order to promote its watches. Instead, the brand’s marketing strategy is built around a strong presence in social networks like Facebook, Twitter and, most of all, Instagram. For Daniel Wellington, those social media channels do not only serve as display cases. In fact, Filip Tysander had understood the huge potential of social influencers right from the beginning. When having started the business, his main idea was to use the joint communication power of many “small” influencers rather than relying on one famous communicator. Not only did this save Daniel Wellington a significant amount of communication investments, it also increased the product’s visibility. Suddenly, Daniel Wellington watches were all over the Internet.

The concept behind this influencer marketing strategy is simple, yet effective: In the first place, Daniel Wellington gives free watch models to selected social influencers on Instagram and asks them to post a picture of the watch on their personal profile, using the branded hashtag #danielwellington. Creative control always remains with the influencers themselves. User-generated Instagram pictures therefore vary largely in style – from close-ups of the product itself, to people or animals wearing the watches. When posting pictures, influencers are always given the opportunity to offer their follower bases a discount on the purchase of the watch by simply attaching a promo code to their posts.

Photo by giuseppe.giorl
Photo by mojifold

In the second place, Daniel Wellington runs several photo contest campaigns such as the “Pick of the day” campaign which invites Instagram users to post pictures of their DW watches under the hashtag #DWPickoftheDay. Winners of the daily contest get featured on the brand’s official Instagram page and receive a free watch.

All of those social media activities have boosted brand awareness in no time. The brand’s Instagram account meanwhile counts more than 3.5 million followers while more than 1.5 million Instagram posts carry the branded hashtag #danielwellington.

What you can learn: 5 Takeaways from Daniel Wellington’s success with social influencers
Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash

 1. Be where your customers are

Daniel Wellington is a young, classy, but fashionable brand and there is no better place to get access to its young and creative target audience than within social media and Instagram, in specific. The fact that Daniel Wellington sticks to this one kind of communication channel makes the brand’s communication efforts both effective and believable. Keeping in mind the personality of your brand is crucial in order to understand where your potential customers are and how you can reach them best.

2. Select influencers that support your brand image

Unlike many brands which simply go after the most popular influencers of the industry, Daniel Wellington has worked with a large number of less recognisable partners. Having chosen brand fit over popularity, in fact, has been key to Daniel Wellington’s success. Influencer marketing campaigns tend to fail when brands don’t suceed at partnering with the right influencers. An example: In 2015, Volvo partnered with the fashion expert, model and blogger Chriselle Lim in order to promote a new eco-friendly car wash solution designed by Volvo in the US. With over a million followers on Instagram, Lim clearly is a social media supestar. However, being known for posting about lifestyle, travelling, fashion and beauty topics, a green car wash technology did not seem to be a natural thing for her to do. To her audience, it was perfectly obvious that Volvo approached her to promote this product which led to anger among some of her followers. The campaign failed and Lim even had to explain herself for partnering with Volvo. Daniel Wellington’s partnerships, however, have always been carefully selected based on whether the individual style and personality of the influencer align with Daniel Wellington’s brand and story.

3. Go the extra mile and foster good relationships with your social community

With 95% of all content being user-generated, Daniel Wellington’s communication success truly relies on its community. The company’s social media team spends much time managing the brand’s relationships with influencers and interacting with followers, responding to their feedback and featuring user-generated content within the brand’s own social media channels. Daniel Wellington has made an outstanding effort to create relationships that are mutually beneficial for both the brand and the influencer.

One should not forget, however, that such a good relationship management is time-consuming and therefore expensive. Even if influencers do not get paid by the brand, one should not assume that influencer marketing is cheap or easy to implement.

4. Actively encourage user-generated content (without losing control of your communication goals)

User-generated Instagram pictures of Daniel Wellington watches largely vary in style. Depending on the influencer’s individual creativity, pictures can be artistic or even humorous. Influencers always leave their own fingerprints on the content they upload which helps a brand’s communication activities stay authentic. While it is important to leave creative control to the respective influencer, brands should always make sure they don’t lose control entirely over their overall communication strategy. Daniel Wellington has perfectly approached this challenge. Through its “pick of the day” campaign, the brand keeps control over which pictures get published through their official brand account. While the framework in which the community can get creative is not limited, special attention is only drawn to specific user-generated pictures – the ones that truly contribute to the brand’s communication objectives.

5. Enable evaluation

Many brands find it difficult to determine the success of an influencer marketing campaign. Daniel Wellington, however, has found a way to perfectly measure whether their partnerships are profitable or not. Each of their influencers is given a tailored discount code that they can forward to their specific follower base which allows Daniel Wellington to assess which one of their partners succeeds in converting followers into customers.

Daniel Wellington has clearly taken influencer marketing to the next level. Be inspired by this outstanding success story and start planning your influencer marketing strategy today!

What’s next?

Have you every wondered what the social influencer business looks like from the influencer’s perspective? Get ready for some secret insights from a person that knows this business like no other! In our third and last article of this series, we present you an exclusive interview with an experienced social influencer. Wanna know who that is? It’s coming up on November, 30th – stay tuned!

Authors: Salomé Charté, Sophie Friob, Giuseppe Giorlando, Saskia Pauly, Solène Moulin

Cover photo by Mitchel Lensink on Unsplash







  1. Very well written article. It is very interesting the Daniel Wellington campaign compared to the other competitors.


  2. Very interesting case of success History. I m also a enterpreneur of the web and i think this history can teach me many interesting things for my brand. Thank you.


  3. I’ve been doing an influencer outreach campaign similar to Daniel Wellington’s strategy (or so I thought) and many have come back saying that DW does pay for each post in many cases, not just the commission they earn through their unique promocodes.


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