If you think you can't teach an old dog new tricks, you're wrong. Find out how this century old company turned traditional ideas into successful digital marketing initiatives.
Does brand loyalty still exist? If so, how do we measure loyalty in today's market? Are there new approaches to loyalty in a world of digital shoppers?
These questions were posed by keynote speaker Julia Fitzgerald, CMO and chief digital engagement officer of Sears Holdings Corporations, at the iMedia Brand Summit in Coronado, Calif.
"When everybody thinks about high-tech brands, I realize that Sears and Kmart aren't really the first ones that jump to your mind," Fitzgerald said. "However, these two iconic American retailers have successfully been using digital marketing to...engage their existing customer base and then reach out to new customers to build brand loyalty."
According to Fitzgerald, Sears and Kmart (also owned by the Sears Holding Company) have done this primarily by building brand loyalty through content marketing.
Sears has found that brand loyalty does exist and it is measured by consecutive purchases, customer recommendations, and loyalty through price elasticity -- when your competitors drop their prices, are your customers staying with you or moving to the competition?
In order to ensure that brand loyalty is maintained in this digital age, brands must adapt to the times and offer perks, incentives, and programs online. But the key, maintains Fitzgerald, is to not "focus on the digital shopper -- focus on the shopper."
In her keynote presentation, Fitzgerald cited the following three case studies as examples of how these two companies are achieving their loyalty goals online.
Case study: Don't just sell a product, sell a vision
Sears is the No. 1 retailer for fitness equipment, yet this fact is widely unknown. Customers are buying the equipment but they're not buying ancillary products like fitness clothes and shoes.
"We went out and started talking to customers who came into our stores -- here's the big insight -- when people come into Sears to buy fitness equipment, they're not really shopping for a piece of fitness equipment. They're shopping for a version of themselves that's about 15lbs lighter," said Fitzgerald. The challenge Sears faced was to help deliver the vision, not just a piece of equipment.
As a direct response to this insight, Sears created "fitstudio." "Fitstudio" is a content portal and community site designed to give customers the know how to meet their fitness goals. The site offers workouts, nutritional information, and inspiration. Users are emailed daily workouts, can chat with other community members, and browse fitness related articles.
Case study: Simplify the shopping experience for your customers
Moms don't think that they can find the hottest toys at Kmart.
The marketers at Kmart understand that kids don't just want a toy; they want a specific toy. Kids are precise -- it needs to be the right toy and the right color. This doesn't just apply to moms; gift givers often don't know what to get, so they work off of a wish list and purchase exactly what the kid desires.
Kmart developed a branded toy list called the "Fab 15." The "Fab 15," presented by child host Rico Rodriguez (from "Modern Family"), predicts the season's hottest toys. This initiative was so successful that the online teaser alone garnered 67 million impressions. Not only did Kmart succeed in placing its name next to the hottest toys, it became a resource for shoppers who didn't know what to purchase.
Case study: Pairing the right customers with the right products
Sears merchandises a wide variety of products, so how does it target the right purchaser for the right product?
"Customers want to know that we 'get' them," Fitzgerald said. Customers want personalized, white glove treatment and they what to be rewarded for their loyalty.
Sears created a digital shopper rewards program called "shop your way." By offering customers "deals designed just for you," Sears can track purchasing habits and offer discounts and other incentives specifically tailored to its customers.
"Overall, when we look at all of our brand loyalty challenges, we look at what is the most important thing for the customer," Fitzgerald said. "How do we offer something that is meaningful to them, and how can we build a bridge in the best way? More and more frequently, the best way turns out to be a digital platform."
Jennifer Marlo is associate editor of iMedia Connection
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