If the shoe fits

Ziera’s tra­di­tional ‘spray and pray’ ap­proach to mar­ket­ing was prov­ing to be both ex­pen­sive and in­ef­fec­tive, so it ap­proached Bauer to help cre­ate its own more fash­ion­able twice-yearly mag­a­zine and app. And that ex­per­i­ment has paid off big time.

New Zealand Marketing - - In Association With Bauer -

WE USED TO HAVE AN AGENCY IN­VOLVED IN CRE­AT­ING THE CAT­A­LOGUE AND DO­ING ALL THE LET­TER­HEADS AND DATA MATCH­ING. IT WAS A RE­ALLY EX­PEN­SIVE PROCESS. THIS WAY, WHAT WE’VE DONE IS LOW­ERED OUR COSTS OF DO­ING IT, IN­CREASED OUR RE­SPONSE RATES AND GOT BET­TER CON­TENT OUT OF IT.

Around five years ago, lo­cally owned shoe brand Kumfs re­branded to Ziera in an ef­fort to widen its ap­peal. And, ac­cord­ing to group mar­ket­ing man­ager/chief cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence of­fi­cer Nicky Dunn, the re­brand earned it a lot more con­sid­er­a­tion among its core tar­get of 40-59 year-old women.

But there was a big prob­lem: while they were com­ing into the store, they were leav­ing with­out buy­ing any­thing. And re­search con­ducted around 18 months ago showed that even though the re­brand had been suc­cess­ful, “peo­ple still thought we were old fash­ioned”.

Like many re­tail­ers, Ziera had re­lied heav­ily on di­rect mar­ket­ing—and par­tic­u­larly cat­a­logues—to pro­mote its wares and Dunn says it used to send a cat­a­logue to ev­ery per­son it had an ad­dress for, or around 250,000 peo­ple. But she says that strat­egy wasn’t sus­tain­able and it didn’t ref­er­ence the fact that some cus­tomers were more valu­able than oth­ers.

“Ev­ery­one does it, it’s ex­pen­sive to mail and the re­sponse rates were drop­ping sea­son on sea­son. It was a huge in­vest­ment that was de­clin­ing. So we weren’t get­ting our mes­sage across in straight ad­ver­tis­ing … When we ap­proached Bauer it was pretty much about us­ing what they do in the fash­ion space and us­ing that un­der­stand­ing to cre­ate some­thing our cus­tomers would re­ally en­joy and el­e­vate the brand into some­thing more mod­ern, more fash­ion­able and more on-trend.”

COM­PLE­MEN­TARY SKILLS

She says work­ing with a pub­lisher to cre­ate a qual­ity mag­a­zine and app seemed like an op­por­tu­nity to make a big change quite quickly.

“It was a com­plete short cut to cred­i­bil­ity and that’s why we did it … The un­der­stand­ing of the cus­tomer is what Bauer brought to it. Even with our agen­cies we didn’t have that. But they’re talk­ing to those peo­ple all the time. It takes a long time for peo­ple to get that and we didn’t have to go through any of that pain.”

TEST­ING THE WA­TERS

Dunn says she pitched the “risky” idea of mov­ing away from cat­a­logues and cre­at­ing its own mag­a­zine to its board of di­rec­tors as a test. Be­cause the num­bers were head­ing in the wrong di­rec­tion, it had to try some­thing. But as many of them were ac­coun­tants, she says they de­manded num­bers to back up the de­ci­sion.

“I said ‘if it doesn’t work, we can al­ways re­vert.’”

Thank­fully, that wasn’t nec­es­sary and Dunn was amazed with the re­sults af­ter send­ing the mag­a­zine to 60,000 of its top cus­tomers and an ad­di­tional 21,000 were avail­able in store.

“We couldn’t be­lieve the im­prove­ment in re­sponse rates, av­er­age pur­chase amount and over­all rev­enue. We thought the mag­a­zine was re­ally good, be­cause you be­come at­tached to some­thing. But the un­so­licited feed­back we got from cus­tomers say­ing how amaz­ing it was took us by sur­prise.”

For the lat­est is­sue (so far it’s done four), it con­ducted an­other ex­per­i­ment. It pro­filed its high value cus­tomers and looked for sim­i­lar types of cus­tomers within a cer­tain ra­dius of Ziera stores and did an un­ad­dressed mail­box drop of the mag­a­zine. And that’s seen even bet­ter re­sults, Dunn says.

“Pretty much 80 per­cent of the stores in our top five from a re­sponse rate per­spec­tive had the un­ad­dressed drop,” she says.

Bauer’s group sales di­rec­tor Jackie Camp­bell says it also did a sep­a­rate ver­sion of the mag­a­zine with a coupon at­tached to track re­demp­tion rates. And it also called on the Bauer team in Aus­tralia to dis­trib­ute the mag­a­zine in a more cost-ef­fec­tive way across the Tas­man.

TEAM EF­FORT

Next editor Sarah Henry heads up the pro­ject and called on ex­perts to work on it. Sim­ply You’s Naomi Larkin is work­ing on the lat­est is­sue. And Camp­bell says all Bauer’s edi­to­rial teams have re­ally em­braced the shift to branded con­tent.

“It gives them a chance to work on some­thing new from their nor­mal re­mit,” she says. And while most agency-client re­la­tion­ships have their ups and downs, Camp­bell says it has “a re­ally great re­la­tion­ship with Nicky”.

“And we are get­ting re­ally great re­sults, so you can feel re­ally proud about what you’re do­ing.”

Dunn agrees and says she and her team were part of the edi­to­rial process from the be­gin­ning.

“Ev­ery sea­son we get to­gether and give a brief to Bauer with our ob­jec­tives, key themes and key cam­paign ideas and they come up with a con­tent

plan. We have our view and then they make it hap­pen … It has been seam­less. You don’t go into a pro­ject think­ing ‘it’s go­ing to be per­fect’, but this was about as close as you could get. And it was good fun.”

One of the only is­sues they could think of was hav­ing to work so far in ad­vance of pub­li­ca­tion date, which meant it was dif­fi­cult to find the right clothes for the fash­ion shoots (Ziera uses a lot of its prod­uct shots in the mag­a­zines but Bauer is in charge of all the fash­ion shoots).

As clear ev­i­dence of the me­dia’s abil­ity to drive de­mand, Dunn says the stylish nut­meg coloured shoes that fea­tured on the cover of its lat­est is­sue were Ziera’s best sell­ing item by a long shot this sum­mer (even though she says 70-80 per­cent of the shoes it sells are black, you al­ways sell the siz­zle, not the sausage).

It didn’t choose that shoe on pur­pose, she says. It was sim­ply the best shot for the cover. But in the end, it ran out of stock and she says it prob­a­bly could have sold three times more. This is why Dunn is aim­ing to be­come slightly more sci­en­tific about the cover choices in an ef­fort to bet­ter pre­dict de­mand and in­crease sales.

“If a client puts their trust in you and uses your ex­per­tise and it’s an open line of com­mu­ni­ca­tion, you can achieve some re­ally ter­rific re­sults,” says Camp­bell.

RUS­SIAN DOLLS

In the world of fash­ion, there are a few shin­ing ex­am­ples of owned me­dia brands that are so good peo­ple are will­ing to pay for and ad­ver­tise in them. Porter, the high qual­ity mag­a­zine cre­ated by on­line re­tailer Net-a-porter, is in the same league as Vogue and other es­tab­lished fash­ion mags, even though it’s ba­si­cally a sophis­cated ad (and closer to home, owned me­dia propo­er­ties like Re­sene’s Habi­tat and Air New Zealand’s Kiaora also run ads).

At present, Ziera gives it away for free. But could it, like some other re­tail­ers, even­tu­ally make money from its mar­ket­ing?

“We’ve dis­cussed that and it’s a hard one, be­cause as soon as you let ad­ver­tis­ers in, then it makes it more com­mer­cial for us and it also be­comes some­thing that’s a lit­tle less at­tached to the brand,” says Dunn.

PAY­ING OFF

While nei­ther would com­ment on the level of in­vest­ment re­quired to cre­ate the mag­a­zine, Dunn did say it spends less that it used to.

“We used to have an agency in­volved in cre­at­ing the cat­a­logue and do­ing all the let­ter­heads and data match­ing. It was a re­ally ex­pen­sive process. This way, what we’ve done is low­ered our costs of do­ing it, in­creased our re­sponse rates and got bet­ter con­tent out of it.”

Ziera doesn’t run the con­tent in any other es­tab­lished mag­a­zines. But it drip-feeds it through Face­book and email news­let­ters through­out the sea­son to lure cus­tomers back to its web­site (it hasn’t started sell­ing on­line yet but it plans to start this year). Dunn says the KPIS are lev­els of en­gage­ment on Face­book or click throughs to the con­tent from emails. It does all the track­ing, al­though Bauer’s in­sights team has con­ducted qual and quant re­search around the con­tent in the mag­a­zine and app, which fea­tures ex­tra con­tent, to find out what read­ers liked.

“It’s a re­ally good ex­am­ple of how we can cre­ate con­tent that doesn’t need to sit un­der our as­sets or mast­heads but can sit on other plat­forms,” says Camp­bell. “And it’s just the be­gin­ning.” This story is part of a con­tent part­ner­ship with Bauer Me­dia. For more in­for­ma­tion, con­tact Jcamp­bell@bauer­me­dia.co.nz

Ziera’s Nicky Dunn says she has been amazed at how cus­tomers have re­sponded to its mag­a­zine and app, and tap­ping into Bauer’s knowl­edge of fash­ion and women has helped shift Ziera’s brand per­cep­tion and in­creased sales.

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