Sustainable food shop sweetgreen leveraged customer behavior to design data-driven retail stores sand mobile apps Continue Reading
For this year’s Dwell on Design show, I sat down with Marta Calle, the Creative Director of CB2, to talk about design, color inspiration and her personal fashion preferences.
At least, that’s what I thought the agenda would be. The interview, however, turned into an amazing full blown commentary on multi-channel and social marketing. Marta offered some amazing insights on how the small brand was growing under it’s large parent, Crate & Barrel.
Whether you’re an interior or fashion designer, interior retailer or fashion retailers, this offers valuable insights for all.
Macala Wright: CB2 entered the online space a little less than seven years ago. It launched its website in 2004, the catalog in 2005 and its m-commerce site in December 2009. The brand has slowly opened stores all over the US and now internationally, as well. What’s been your experience in all these different mediums?
Marta Calle: It’s actually been something quite amazing. We’ve found that customers who are loyal to the brand actually shop across all four mediums – the catalogs, the stores, online and via their mobile devices. The combination of the four has increase the dollars spent by customers over all three outlets.
MW: It seems that mobile, e-commerce, catalog and store sales are dependent on one another. How has this effected the way you market CB2 to customers through these channels?
MC: With CB2, we make sure we curate our customers’ experiences across all our communication channels. Customer experience is key for us as a brand. We ensure that transition from online-to-offline is as seamless as possible. The settings we create in the catalogs are translated to the web, from the website and catalog, and we take painstaking care to bring those settings to life in the stores.
MW: CB2 brand standards are at the core of everything it does. Tell me about them.
MC: Well, to start, the perfect example would be The Standard Hotels and some of the boutiques on Melrose and Robertson here in Los Angeles. There are no frills. CB2 is the same way, we opt for no frills in order to create focused, streamlined live/work spaces. We’d rather capture your attention in small detail of an accent piece, the curve of a table or the lines of a desk instead of filling a room with too many distracting elements.
MW: CB2 designs are relevant to the color palettes and styles what people want now, how does the brand manage to maintain a competitive edge over it’s competition.
MC: CB2’s relevancy to its customers is found in the way the brand aligns itself with modern design. And by modern, I don’t mean retro modern; I mean real time modern. The term “modern” is always changing, I’m always asking myself, “What’s modern now?” We try to understand the changing meanings of “modern” and focus on real-time trends and what customers want now. CB2 is moving towards real time relevancy without turning into the “fast fashion” style retailer.
MW: Dwell on Design is about creating sustainable living and work environments. CB2 has taken that concept and translated it into the physical location of the stores it opens. Tell me about blending CB2 into “on brand” community environments.
MC: We feel the places where we open CB2 locations have to be places that our customers live in, as well as work in. They have to “local” for the people that live in them, meaning their centrally located. Our locations in West Hollywood, Santa Monica and SoHo are walkable; you don’t have to get into your care and drive 30+ miles to get to them. The same goes for our locations that we’re opening right now in Toronto; it’s located on Queens Street. The only other two large retailers there are Adidas and and Nike. All the other retailers around these stores are independent stores. All three retailers aim to support the local business, not compete with them.We think there needs to be a balance between big and small retail.
MW: CB2 carries its philosophies through to its philanthropic projects. Tell me about that.
Our philosophy is “Cherish the Home”. When we open a store in a certain neighborhood, the staff picks a local charity to support that focuses on food and shelter; we donate a percentage of that store’s sales to that charity.
Also, on an opening day, we offer 15% customer purchases in exchange for customers bringing seven cans of food to donate to food banks. In Chicago one month, CB2 donated 10,000 pounds of food in a span of two weeks. The entire food donation that month from other companies that supported the charity that same month was 10,000 pounds.
Creativity Explored is a nonprofit visual arts center where artists with developmental disabilities create, exhibit and sell art. We use their artists’ works in our rugs, wall decor and accessories that we produce with our collections. The artists are paid for their work. So the next time you buy your accent pillow or a rug and before you would have wondered about the designer, you know where it came from!
MW: When it comes to shopping online, where do you go?
MC: Net-A-Porter. The way they merchandise their products just grabs you, drags you in and forces you to buy that Alexander Wang bag. I love the digital content as well. Shame on them for being so good!
MW: What’s in store for CB2 in the next year?
You are going to see a lot more technology in the stores, further bridging online-to-offline experiences. You’re also going to see enhanced functionalities on the website; without giving away too much, you’ll be able to mix and match your home on the site before you even come into the store.
Marta Calle On Social Media
Post by Maria Ogneva, Director of Community
If there’s one thing that you should take away from this post, it is that Marketing (online, social or otherwise) is not a drive-by shooting. Marketing is holistic, and great marketing plans take time to develop and nurture. This is true for online, as well as offline marketing; new media as well as older, more traditional forms of media.
So what does holistic mean? No, we’re not offering Feng Shui techniques for your product or some magical marketing plan. Holistic simply means that you know what your brand stands for and you understand that the tactics you use to market your brand must work together to position or change the positioning of your products. You know the audience(s) you want to target with your message, and know you must keep that message consistent across all the channels you incorporate to deliver it. All of your marketing functions should move in lockstep, reinforcing each other.
Example: Launching An Eco-Fashion Line
You’re a company launching a sustainable, eco-conscious fashion line of clothing. In marketing your product line, you’ll probably want to emphasize sustainability, the purity of organic fabrics and your product’s contribution to reducing waste via green practices. You’ll want your packaging (or labeling) to convey those qualities in the terminology used to describe the garments, as well as the package design.
Most eco fashion lines have higher retail price point than mass-marketed clothing lines; your marketing must convey a socially conscious, environmentally responsible message that establishes why your clothes are worth paying a premium.
If you have (or wish to have) an online presence (which I presume you do, because you are reading this blog), you’ll want to reach the same consistency. When you’re designing your site, the eco-conscious message should be front and center, and all the design elements should convey the message as well. In addition to having e-commerce and informational functionality (a simple means to an end), you need to produce original content that shows your leadership on the subject matter. Blogging, in addition to establishing you as a thought leader, is a great way for search engines to discover your site.
This brings me to the next point, which is search engine optimization (SEO). For any retailer, wholesaler or manufacturer with a website, SEO is a key component in developing a holistic, cohesive marketing plan. SEO should absolutely be front and center to any online marketing strategy. You may have a great product, and even a great looking site, but if no one knows about it, what good is it? Without getting into too much technical detail, search optimization allows you to lift content from your webpages (page titles, page and product descriptions) and help the major search engines read and index this content. An indexable architecture becomes very important, as well as a wealth of content around the necessary keywords.
So in the case of an eco-conscious fashion line, your blog should cover topics related to green living, eco fashion, sustainable lifestyle and eco trends. But on the back end of your blog, each page title, meta description and permalink should contain terms that will help it index through search engines. For e-commerce sites, this extends to product descriptions and categories.
Because your target market is an upscale customer who cares about social/environmental issues, he or she will probably want to interact with you and other like-minded customers on and off your site. The great thing about a passionate consumer is that she is engaged and happy to share, learn and interact. Adding social tools to your site is key, as they allow users to connect to the community that lives on your site, as well as communities that you have formed outside of your site.
Community management, which is an area of passion for me, is all about building and maintaining a community, both inside your site and externally. If you have a robust commenting system and allow your users to contribute content (which you absolutely should), you should keep a handle on all of your comments and other content that these users are producing. Thank your users for contributing, answer questions, resolve concerns, but remember to allow your users to express themselves freely. Heated conversations are a sign of passion, so don’t interfere, as long as the discussion is productive. Moderate and guide, when necessary, but never stifle. You should be present on sites and communities where your target customers are, and take the time to interact with them there. If you discover that your target market is not on Tumblr, but is on Facebook, that’s where you need to be. Interacting, being helpful and sharing links to your site (only when relevant of course, otherwise it’s SPAM) isn’t only good for your name recognition, but is part of your SEO strategy through the link-building and track backs that commenting in forums creates.
Reaching out to bloggers and conducting online PR goes hand in hand with community management and provides fantastic SEO results via link-building and content syndication. Remember, though, to be selective about the bloggers you approach – just like all the channels you select, it must be consistent with your brand’s message. Do your target customers use smartphones? Well, you should think of ways to interact with them on their phones. Social and geo-location apps allow you to stay front and center in the customer’s mind, engage and entertain, as well as harvest important behavior data (more on this later).
One very important caveat to all of the above: it works, but it won’t work immediately. If you expect sustainable success, it has be built over time. SEO, community building, online PR and content creation reinforce each other, but it will take some time to see the results you want. You have to keep doing it every month for at least six months, to gain traction and see results. Placing your product on one of the characters in Desperate Housewives may provide a rush of one-time traffic, followed by a drop-off; however, building these ties to the online community, while keeping your message “on brand”, is going to increase your traffic consistently, month over month, without an abrupt drop-off. That’s why we say that effective marketing is not a drive-by shooting: it’s not transactional, but rather takes time and effort to build and nurture.
The Los Angeles Times recently wrote that fashion bloggers are becoming more influential than traditional media outlets; fashion bloggers are not only the new journalists, they’re also brand ambassadors. As more fashion brands venture online, brands and their marketing agents are developing strategies to build mutually beneficial relationships for both bloggers and their websites. In order to build successful partnerships, etiquette is definitely in order.
Guest Blog Post on Behalf of Independent Fashion Bloggers.
Fast Company magazine has published the 100 Most Creative People of 2009 (and the companies they work for); among them are six amazing individuals that represent fashion brands.
What impresses and inspires me the personal beliefs that fuel their creativity. Continue Reading
Social Media is new to most fashion brands and retailers. Many brands and retailers are apprehensive to using social media; they don’t know how to qualify results, set goals and measure results. Jon Cockle’s outlines an approach to measurement that mirrors my own social media ROI metrics. Cockle’s presentation is great place for any marketer to start at to gain great awareness of social marketing ROI. Check out this amazing presentation on Social Media ROI.
The overnight popularity of Facebook and Twitter (CNN and Oprah) has resulted in a influx of social users; last month, Comscore reported that Twitter had 9.3 million visitors and Facebook had 200 million. The spotlight on social media has driven record user registrations; brands are following suit, using Twitter & Facebook as promotional tools.
Has the mass adoption of social media by brands and retailers led to its oversaturation?
No it hasn’t, no more so than the mass adoption by consumers. Television and print attention has pushed social media to the next level (the only place it could really go); garnering it mainstream, mass appeal.
I believe the question of “oversaturation” is actually another issue being raised by social marketers that have had amazing social marketing successes until now. Now, their clients are asking for more quantifiable, measurable results and they can’t produce the results. Furthermore, these individuals are finding that they more competition established agencies and boutique outlets with more bandwidth. More marketing firms are integrating social media divisions; they know it’s necessary in order to stay viable in today’s market.
These divisions and individual marketers are developing strategies that have taken social marketing to the next level. We can now build brand awareness, convert new users, drive web traffic and convert that traffic to online sales. We are monetizing social media, which has been the ongoing question from the beginning of web 2.0. We’re saying that social media success isn’t defined by how many fans a brand’s Facebook page has, how many followers on Twitter a brand has or how many retweets a particular topic recieved. We are saying social marketing success is shown through sales conversions and growth.
How do brands and retailers change their online marketing strategy?
The social engagement strategy (the way in which a brand or retailer interacts with it followers and fans) for brands will follow a similar model that they’ve taken with customer service (listening and providing amazing experiences) and be more involved with their followers. Brands will cater their social outlets to their fans’ and followers’ wants & needs (ultimately let their fans shape their social media strategy); thereby cutting through the noise being generated by the larger volume of retailers online.
What marketing tactics should brands take into account for social marketing right now?
1. A brand has to have a strategy. Don’t launch or implement anything haphazardly. If you want to develop a Facebook or iPhone application, don’t do because it’s cool or you want one. Do an analysis of what that application will do for the brand. Will it build awareness, will it generate sales or drive web traffic? Ask yourself, “Why would someone choose to integrate my app over someone else’s?”
2. Active engagement. If you’re a brand with a Facebook page or Twitter account, actively maintain them. Use your Twitter & Facebook page as you would use your blog, share information, add photos, report trends, new products, event promotions, etc.
Your blog, facebook and twitter content should all match. Make sure you talk to your fans and followers. If someone friends you or follows you – THEN FOLLOW THEM BACK (you can use Social Too to maintain this). It rude not to follow your customers back, unless they are spammers or absolutely insane. Here are some great examples of fan pages:
3. Don’t completely replace old promotion methods with social media. Use social media to enhance traditional marketing initiatives; only use social media for things worth marketing. You don’t always have promote sales, discounts, etc. Interact as a person, not a robot. It’s okay to share great office stories, runway malfunctions and behind the scenes info; it allows your customer to identify with your brand. You’ll recieve a better return on the time invested and you’ll set yourself ahead of the competition.
This posted was inspired by Twitterati: So Last Week.