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CB2 On Multi-Channel Marketing, Social Media & Online Inspiration

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.

Beyond supporting groups that offer food and shelter, we donate returned furniture and things we can’t resell to the Watts House Project, and we partner with Creativity Explored in San Francisco.

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


How Fashion Brands & Fashion Bloggers Can Build Beneficial Relationships

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.

Read: How fashion brands and fashion bloggers can build mutally beneficial relationships.

Guest Blog Post on Behalf of Independent Fashion Bloggers.

Metrics & ROI

How Do You Measure Social Media ROI?

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.

Social Media

Are Brands Oversaturating Social Media?

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.