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Driving market-leading engagement for the Dr. Martens share plan launch

Dr. Martens were launching their first ever all-employee share plan. And they wanted clear, accessible, and engaging communications to make sure the message landed. So they approached us for help.

Dr. Martens is an iconic British brand founded in 1960 in Northamptonshire. Initially producing tough, durable work boots, the brand was quickly adopted by diverse subcultures and musical movements.

Today DM’s are worn around the world and symbolise empowerment and individual attitude.

The challenge

In 2021 Dr. Martens floated on the London Stock exchange.

To engage employees as shareholders, the company gave each of them £500 worth of shares.

In 2022, Dr. Martens decided to take its employee share ownership up a notch by launching a share plan. Employees could buy up to £150 of shares a month from pre-tax salary, and get a free share for each one they buy.

The plan is generous, but that alone isn’t enough to guarantee engagement. Especially when you’re asking employees to contribute from their pay-packet during an unprecedented cost-of-living crisis.

We had a number of challenges to overcome.

  • Martens had never had a share plan before, so it was a new concept to many employees
  • With a high percentage of retail staff, it would be difficult to reach many of them by email. And retail business typically achieve some of the lowest share plan take-up rates
  • Timescales were tight – from the first time we put pen to paper, we had less than four weeks until the plan launched
  • A very broad demographic, with a wide range of ages, working locations and likely financial knowledge

Our approach

We always start by getting under the bonnet of our client’s business, so we really understand who employees are, and what makes them tick.

Next, we get to know the brand inside-out, studying visual look and feel, imagery, and tone of voice.

Working with DMs we developed a communications strategy, getting the messages right and making sure we used the right channels to reach every employee. This was the key to making the plan inclusive.

Once we had a creative concept, we got to work writing copy and creating assets. A brochure served as the main information hub, supported by a suite of emails, videos, posters and flyers, all beautifully designed to work with DM’s distinctive brand.

The videos were aimed at educating those who hadn’t been part of a share plan before, or maybe had never bought any type of investment product.

We developed a tailor-made calculator, so employees could work out their individual tax savings. And finally we produced a toolkit, so managers could work with their teams to make sure they understood the plan.

The results

The average share plan take-up rate for a retail business is just 4.6%. Dr. Martens hoped for a take-up rate of 10-12%, and set us an ambitious target of 15%.

When the three-week invitation window closed, take-up stood at 29%.

A deeper dive into the results shows this launch bucked a number of industry trends.

Usually take-up is much lower among women than men. DM’s share plan has more women than men enrolled – 59% of those who signed up are women (UK average: 36%).

Average contribution levels were also high, at £94. (Retail sector average: £49).

And challenging the perception that share plans disproportionately benefit the higher paid, 65% of joiners at DM’s earn less than £50,000 per year.

Needless to say both Dr. Martens and RewardPointZero were delighted. Our clear, creative, and engaging communications campaign really delivered results. And these ground-breaking results were recognised by the industry at the annual ProShare awards, where the plan won two categories – Most Effective Communication of an Employee Share Plan and Best New Share Plan.

Got a project? Let’s talk

If you’d like some help with your share plan communications, we’d love to chat.