468 Retail and Channel Management Blog

Sunday, January 31, 2016


What comes to mind when thinking of Kate Spade? To me, it’s like stepping out of dreary streets of “Deadmonton” and into the glamorous world of the Upper East Side in Manhattan, filled with bright polka dots and gleaming displays. I feel like a young successful woman in an eye catching ensemble off to tackle all of the important appointments scheduled in my planner. Little do the sales associates know, but although I may look like I fit into their demographic and psychographic segments, I have carefully selected each piece of discounted clothing items and constructed a seamless outfit that may actually portray that I have some disposable income to effortlessly spend. In reality, I am a university student hoping to get a discount Kate Spade bag for my birthday for half the price. I would not classify myself as a Kate Spade New York girl, but here is what her persona entails:

Demographic, Psychographic, and Behavioral Segmentations
Kate Spade New York girl can be seen through four pieces that Kate Spade sells to consumers. Whether it is a pattern or design printed representing her lifestyle printed on merchandise, decorative home pieces, or clothing and accessories, each detail describes who she is to consumers in a simple way that is surly memorable. 

Her Lifestyle
As stated on their website, “She is a young professional in a city: maybe in the public eye, maybe a writer, a docent, or a program director at a charitable organization. She is invested in her work. She loves art and entertainment, is engaged in fashion, and she is culturally curious. She is a downtown girl, with an uptown sensibility.” To many customers, this may seem like the ideal successful woman, encouraging them to embrace the the products, brand, and the image they both portray. 

Her Apartment  
Her rental apartment would include items such as: the latest flea market find, a Bella Foster painting, polaroid from her summer travels, an entire pay cheque went to the floor lamp design within reach, the guitar she’ll learn to play one day, games, fresh flowers whenever she can, Uncle Lou’s arm chair reupholstered in Joseph Frank fabric, and lots of books. The items suggest her thirst for adventure and her passion for creativity. 

Her Purse
Kate’s purse holds the following: a compact, address book, iPhone, sunglasses, book, stick of gum, gym ID card, cigarettes that she bought and regrets, bobby pins, lipstick and a cocktail ring, wallet and metro card, pens and journal, and a digital camera. These items suggest that she is organized, yet perfectly messy at the same time. Perhaps this juxtaposition allows viewers and consumers to fit into a broader segment, where they can feel comfortable being very organized, messy, or a combination of both. 

Her Outfit
Where does Kate Spade shop? (She is not saving for a rainy day)
  •       Barneys (for inspiration)
  •        J Crew (for basics)
  •        H&M (for cheap and chic)
  •        Marc by Marc Jacobs (sample sales)
  •        Flea markets (for vintage pieces)
  •        Gilt.com
  •       Anthropologie
  •        Miu Miu (spends her bonuses here)
  •        Her favorite stand by’s are Chucks and Levi’s S01s, she has jewelry for every occasion, and loves pops of color.

The portrayal of “Kate Spade Girl New York” gives the company an opportunity to demonstrate their different segmentations to the public through a figure that is easy to understand and memorable. Social media has played a large role in describing complex quantitative statistical research to consumers in a simple qualitative form.  The success of this marketing technique has lead Kate Spade to ranking among the strongest brands in the online marketing space.  It is just one of the channels that Kate Spade focuses on in their omnichannel retailing approach. CEO Craig Leavitt says
“What we planned to build was a global multichannel lifestyle brand embraced by consumers and markets in all the fashion capitals around the world, a brand that spanned multiple categories and reached [the consumer] in many different moments of her life. When I say multichannel, I mean that we believe in reaching out to [the consumer] in all channels of distribution, whether it's brick-and-mortar or online; they're all important points.”

In conclusion, currently, I may not fit into their “ideal” segments and image. However, in a few years after graduating and paying off those pesky student loans, I may be able to indulge in the full Kate Spade experience of what it is truly like to be a “Kate Spade New York Girl”.


J.Crew- The Move From Catalogue to Social Media

         When J.Crew was founded in 1983, they focused their brand image around “popular 80's preppy, yuppie aesthetic” targeted at young upper middle class professionals [1]. Today J.Crew’s clothing lines are still focused around that same image, just more modern. J.Crew is one of those companies who came out with a highly successful catalogue campaign in the 80s. The photography and art direction they use for their catalogues, then and now, focuses on high quality brand imagery and timelessness. It was crucial for J.Crew to have success with their catalogues because it was their only form of distribution until 1989, when they opened their first store in New York. It wasn't until 2003 when J.Crew hired their CEO Mickey Drixler, that their marketing efforts began to change. 

J.Crew 1988 Spring Catalogue 

       To me this was a critical move for J.Crew, without it they could of easily died out as a company. As J.Crew began to launch itself among various social media platforms they started to find that:
"J.Crew customers who engage with us via our social media outlets (facebook, twitter, Pinterest or Instagram) generally spend approximately 2x more than the average J.Crew customer." [2] 
In my opinion this is pretty substantial for J.Crew considering it was their first real attempt at trying any other form of marketing besides their catalogues. They really caught on to the imagery and lifestyle that appeal to people in their target market

       J.Crew is also became known for its celebrity endorsements, most notably was when Michelle Obama and her daughter wore the brand to her husband's inauguration causing sales to more than double for that month [1]. J.Crew has attempted to use these celebrities, especially Michelle Obama, to form a story about the brand that promotes a positive classier lifestyle; the First Lady of the United States wears J.Crew and so can you.

  Michelle Obama and her Daughter in J.Crew

      From their social media presence to their celebrity endorsements J.Crew took it one step further to really engage their consumers when they introduced the "Pocket Dial" this past Christmas season. They certainly "REV'ed" up their message by offering something remarkable, engaging, and visceral. What J.Crew did was partner up with Jimmy Fallon who created a phone case that also doubled as a pocket square for suits. Jimmy Fallon partnered and sold these solely through J.Crew and acted as a hub to spread the J.Crew name. This partnership gained incredible buzz for J.Crew around the Christmas season as well as showed their CSR side since 100% of the profits were donated. 

Jimmy Fallon Introducing The J.Crew Pocket Dial

       In think that these types of celebrity endorsements, partnerships, and social media presence is where retail marketing will be focused in the future. I think J.Crew did an incredible job adapting to the changing technology while staying true to their brand image and reputation. They still publish their catalogues 4 times a year and send them to those who sign up to receive them, but they have also really embraced social media.  

[1] http://www.businessinsider.com/the-story-of-how-jcrew-became-the-3-billion-dollar-company-everyone-was-fighting-over-2011-3?op=1  
[2] http://trackmaven.com/blog/2014/05/j-crews-data-driven-marketing-approach-fashion/
- http://www.vault.com/company-profiles/retail/j-crew-group,-inc/company-overview.aspx
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8luhHC6VAeU 

Saturday, January 30, 2016


A staple of the Canadian athletic-inspired garment market, Roots has consistently relied on their strong sales of leather goods while incorporating a more fashion-oriented forward operation. Roots has operated in Canada since 1973, when Michael Budman and Don Green opened their flagship store on Yonge Street in Toronto, since, Roots has been a predominant Canadian retailer. Worn by elite athletes as well as celebrity’s over the last 40 years, Roots has managed to make its clothing attainable for the average and the affluent.

The Roots retail space has transformed with the brand over the years, yet has managed to maintain the theme of Canadian heritage as you walk through the store. The wooden accents of most of Root’s older locations, gives a “lakeside cabin” feel to the store as you are able to easily look through a variety men’s, women’s, and children’s apparel. The stores simple layout makes it clear which sections are intended for which consumer and the scattered leather accessories that have always been the heart of the Root’s brand provide a constant reminder of how far this product line has come. Some of Root’s newer locations, such as the Bloor St. W. Flagship location in Toronto have a more modernist approach utilizing knotty oak, and accents of leather and brass to create a more minimalist space. Despite the different visual that this location holds, the “indoor-outdoor” vibe remains prominent.

Roots has stayed true to the values and beliefs that the company entered the market with in 1973, even through the recent transition of losing Michael Budman and Don Green as primary share holders in the company as a private shareholder took primary stock of the company. The Roots website makes it clear that core values of commitment to health, wellness, and protecting Canada’s outdoors have been maintained. Further, it displays that the Roots brand is committed to positively influence the communities in which it is located which is exactly what Canadians want to hear about the brands they support. Buying domestic is in vogue and Roots has not been caught off guard. Their Canadian fabrication centre gives customers the option to conscientiously reinvest in the national economy albeit with lukewarm price adjustments. Despite having to relocate some of the company’s production to Bangladesh, Root’s has been very transparent about the treatment of employees in these factories, as well as the companies intent to keep leather production in Toronto in the future, despite the challenges that brings to the company. 

It is no surprise that the success faced by Roots is not limited to the Canadian market! Root’s has experienced immense success in the Asian market. The lifestyle that Roots emanates is very well received as the values discussed above resonate well with the progressive nature of the Asian market. In a part of the world where bottles of “Banff Air,” ( a vitality air product)  sold out quickly and with ease it makes sense that the Roots Brand would face success; visible through the easy connection of Roots clothing and outdoor adventuring in the Banff air!

A photo taken from the Roots Lookbook

Roots makes me feel at home, whether it be seeing a stand in an airport, or stopping in over a trip to the mountains, the cozy vibe of the retail environment has always made me feel comfortable. I can only hope that Roots can sustain its success into the future, while maintaining the core values that have been the focus of this brand for the past 43 years.