Watch the recap of "How D2C Brands Are Defining The Future of Retail," the latest in BrainStation’s Digital Leadership Event Series.
As a Director of Brand Marketing at Knix, Michelle Adams’ days are packed. She’s responsible for reviewing daily metrics, responding to PR inquiries and partnership proposals, working with brand ambassadors, and keeping an eye on the competition. Then, there are team meetings, product launches, brand meetings, and so much more.
During Social Media Week, Adams spoke with fellow brand and marketing experts to discuss social engagement, creating customer loyalty, and the omnichannel experience.
We spoke with Adams after the conference to learn more about the future of retail, what an omnichannel marketing strategy looks like, and the marriage of online and in-person commerce.
“Excite the mind and the hand will reach for the pocket.” Many retailers today seem to be putting an emphasis on this idea again. Why do you think the concept of creating “experiences” has come back into fashion?
Consumers are really smart and there are a ton of options out there. To cut through the noise, you need to tell a story and have a purpose behind your brand. If you don’t, you might get lucky and sell some products with the right ads, but for long-term success, you need word of mouth and customer loyalty, and to get those, you need to lead with your brand voice.
This is where the experiences are coming in because it’s often not enough to just talk about your mission, or tell a story through a campaign. You need to bring it to life and have your customers interact with it. The product or service you provide is, of course, the key to your success, but I believe the brands who are disrupting their industries are those who have recognized this demand for brands to have a purpose, and for that purpose to be authentically reflected in experiences that go beyond what you’re trying to sell.
You previously worked at Freshii. How has your experience with experiential marketing at Freshii helped in the work you’ve done at Knix?
My experience with experiential marketing is extremely valuable to this role – we do a lot of events and IRL activations at Knix. At our core, we are an e-commerce company, but from a brand perspective, it’s important for us to create activations that get us in touch with our customers in-person.
What are some campaigns you’re personally proud of from your career (Knix or otherwise)?
At Freshii, I developed the brand’s first-ever philanthropic strategy, which culminated in “Communitii Day.” It was executed across hundreds of locations worldwide, and the purpose was to raise money to provide meals to children in need, with the support of our philanthropic partner. On one day alone, we raised enough money to provide over 300,000 meals, and the initiative continues to this day.
At Knix, I was fortunate enough to be a part of the Life After Birth Project, which stands out both personally and professionally to me. The Life After Birth Project’s objective is to create a platform for women everywhere to share their postpartum stories, and we brought this to life through a traveling photography exhibit that told these stories through imagery and quotes from over 650 women. The stories that are shared in the Life After Birth gallery spaces make me really proud to be part of a brand that invests in a campaign like this.
Can you explain what you believe an omnichannel experience is?
To me, omnichannel means any avenue in which you can interact with your customers or potential customers. For Knix, as primarily an e-commerce brand, that means all digital channels, both paid and organic. Think Instagram, Facebook, Google, Youtube, Pinterest, email marketing, programmatic, affiliate, and more.
But for me, as a brand marketer, it’s also our offline channels: partnerships, events, PR and traditional advertising like billboards, transit, and print.
Has Knix found success with omnichannel marketing?
Absolutely! Our primary organic channel right now is Instagram. It seems to be where our customers like to communicate with us, but I do think there is an opportunity for us to explore some of the other digital channels and further develop our organic presence to tap into a different social audience – like on Youtube, for example.
Your social media presence has a real inclusive energy. How did you strive to give Knix stores the same sense of inclusion?
The goal was to create a space that offered a warm and welcoming experience. We used a glowing, sunset-inspired palette – similar to what you’ll see online and in our social accounts. To incorporate the concept of curves into the design, we used arches wherever possible, and furniture with rounded edges, as an ode to the beauty of women’s bodies. We also aimed to ensure there is a personal touch within our stores. Our fit experts can walk you through the experience, fit you for product and answer your questions, which we do virtually through IG as well. And finally we bring the community that we built on IG to life through the events, panels, and workshops we host in our stores – each is really a reflection of the other, and ultimately of the brand purpose as a whole.
Why are so many online-based retailers looking for brick-and-mortar locations? Is it a gap in technology or a necessary extension of technology?
I think it’s an extension of technology and it relates to the requirement to create experiences for your customers in real life. For brands like Knix, brick-and-mortar locations provide those customers who are hesitant to make a first-time purchase online an opportunity to try on the product in-person. It’s also a community engagement platform, which can’t be achieved to the same level with just the online store.
What does the future of retail look like to you?
I think we are moving in a nice direction where there is a marriage between the in-real-life and online. Customers will continue to demand convenience, so I do think retail will continue to adapt to allow customers to interact with and purchase from a brand under their terms. So, I don’t know exactly what it will look like, but a future retail utopia is one in which brands can predict, respond to, and adapt their strategy based on the changing behaviors and demands of consumers, which ultimately benefits everyone.
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