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The driving force behind The Gap's biggest wins

The driving force behind The Gap's biggest wins Lucia Davis

If it weren't for a mom, The Gap would have been called "Pants & Discs." And, in fact, co-founder Doris Fisher's naming decision was just the first of many contributions mothers have made to the iconic brand over the years.

During her opening keynote at iMedia's iMoms Summit in Orlando, Fla., Tricia Nichols, global lead of consumer engagement strategy and media innovation at The Gap, outlined some of the brand's best collaborations with moms to date. In doing so, she noted that moms are "the original storytellers."

Two places where The Gap connects especially well with moms are at Gap Kids and Gap Baby, founded in 1986 and 1990, respectively. "This is where Gap's mommy community lives," Nichols said. "Through this community, we discovered that our best storyteller was a 'bonded mom.'" Nichols defined bonding as a measurable series of positive interactions and activities with a brand. The key, of course, is figuring out how to make that bonding happen.

Nichols explained that The Gap looks to online interactions and shares to measure community; she doesn't always turn to sales as a success indicator. "We want to build the bonding first and foremost," Nichols said. "We know that there's a linkage between being bonded and using that to make purchase decisions. It's more about insight; it's more about dialogue and the rate of sharing."

The Gap has a multitude of endeavors targeted at mom-brand bonding. Its "I Want Candy" cover by YouTube sensation Maria Aragon combined two of its tactics: creating content that moms and kids want to share, and casting real Gap Kids customers in the video. The latter is something the brand does fairly often to increase mom bonding and build a trusted online community. "We ask moms to tell us what is unique about their child," Nichols said. Getting a mom to talk about her kids is clearly working: 22,000 people entered the last round of casting.

Another program was a style class hosted on Skillshare and taught by fashion blogger and Swagger creator Sian-Pierre Regis. "We were trying to figure out a way to engage the stores, and realized we could provide value to Gap consumers by showing them how to wear and style a product," Nichols said. The Gap saw a boost in both sales and site traffic on the day of the class.

Nichols closed her keynote with three takeaways for brands that want to engage with moms:

  • Amplify your shared values through experiences and content

  • Provide platforms for expression; create a dialogue, not a monologue

  • Use technology in relevant ways

"Moms have always loved to share with other moms, and they're constantly seeking out like-minded people and brands," Nichols said. Brand bonding occurs at the intersection of shared values and product, expressive experiences, and technology and content -- a place The Gap doesn't plan on leaving anytime soon.
Lucia Davis is associate editor at iMedia Connection. 

On Twitter? Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet. Follow Lucia at @iMediaLucia.

Lucia Davis is a journalist, social media consultant and founder of The Art Bus Project. Previously, she was director of content at Obviously Social. Prior to that position, she served as community editor at PR News after working as...

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