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Say “holidays” around brands and retailers, and typically what comes to mind is the shopping rush toward the end of the calendar year.
But even during the winter months when Black Friday is in the rearview mirror, it’s worth remembering that there are holidays throughout the year with room for brands to participate.
There are a few ways that these are different from peak season. For one, they won’t bring the same sales lift, as people don’t give gifts in the same volume. They’re also targeted at specific groups.
Unlike the December holidays, these are optional for brands and retailers.
To be sure, there can be an opportunity to attract new customers. But for brand leaders, it’s a matter of being intentional rather than jumping in to the fray. When considering which holiday deserves increasingly scarce resources, the trick is to keep an eye toward staying true to a brand’s ethos, and moving alongside the customer base.
For Kari Gran Skincare, the March 8 celebration of International Women’s Day is a natural fit. For the first week of March, the brand works in community with women – among its own team, consumers, and other brands. That lays the groundwork for the elements of an effective campaign.
“For us, it’s a mix of consumer behavior, knowing our customer base and making it authentic,” said Laura Kirkland, the Seattle-based brand’s VP of customer marketing. “And, it doesn’t hurt that we are all women here at Kari Gran. We know our customers and speak the same language.”
International Women’s Day finds consumers of two minds. Many women are seeking to both treat themselves, and uplift women-founded brands. Along with showing that it can “walk the walk,” Kirkland said the Kari Gran mixes content and altruism alongside promotions.
“We support the day by highlighting stories of other women founders,” Kirkland said. “We also regularly give proceeds of sales to multiple women’s organizations and have supported local events over the years. For us, it’s important that we recognize the true spirit of the day – not just be opportunistic for sales, as our customers will call BS on it every time.”
It’s also a day where the brand acknowledges that it is part of a larger community of women-founded brands. For International Women’s Day, the brand works with sister companies that have similar customer demographics to cross-promote products. Together, they can attract new customers.
“Many companies, especially smaller ones like us in the health and wellness category are female-founded, female-led, and have a larger percentage of female employees. It’s an ideal day – and month – to showcase how we support each other,” said Kirkland. “And in turn, our customers reward us, lifting us all up as a collective group.”
The right customer
If planned correctly, holidays can provide a big tent under which a brand can reach their ideal customer. But it’s important to align the tactics and tools being used to reach consumers around that goal as well.
“Yes, promotions and promo codes drive business, but it needs to hit the right customers,” Kirkland said. “If not, then I get a great day of revenue with one hit wonders, who never return.”
This lends itself to working with software companies or service providers who can help the brand be targeted with its reach. But like many brands, Kari Gran has streamlined marketing dollars amid macroeconomic headwinds. So it is also evaluating what works.
For International Women’s Day, results from the software platform SourceKnowledge stand out for the brand, as it strikes the balance between content, promotion and celebration of the holiday.
“Working with SourceKnowledge as our performance partner, we can use inventory for this campaign that allows us to capture shoppers with a price discount, promotion, coupon, or review while they are in an active buying phase of their shopping journey,” Kirkland said. “As the campaign learns about these shoppers and who's more likely to convert, SourceKnowledge is better able to identify the high-converting traffic across its network of publishers and micro influencers to promote Kari Gran to our key demographic – women over 40 – in an authentic manner that matches their buying journey.”
Kirkland said that SourceKnowledge has enabled the brand to “identify the right customers, and optimize our traffic mix to exceed set return on ad spend goals.”
“We are currently at 12.5x ROAS with SourceKnowledge,” Kirkland said. “So yes, while we are still offering a code to an incentive, I’m also finding the right, loyal customer.”
Gamification is another key element of campaigns that has worked. Kari Gran runs a promotion called “Double Up Weekend,” which automatically doubles selected customers’ orders.
“We make it very clear how customers can win so there is no confusion,” Kirkland said. “For example, we double every ‘X’ order that comes in. Customers love it. We will see multiple orders from customers to increase their chances.”
The results bare it out: These weekends yielded a 30% increase in AOV and a 56% increase in revenue, when compared to average weekends.
Choose holidays carefully
While the prospect of increasing conversion around a holiday can be enticing, Kirkland advises brands to take care not to force a choice – and that’s speaking from experience.
“Don’t jump the shark to make something happen. If it just doesn’t make sense for your brand, you’ll end up missing out on creating a long-term customer,” Kirkland said. “I’ve been a marketer for a long time and tried to make many a holiday or observed day into something special when it was just a lame connection. In those cases, it is best to take a pass.”
To review, here are a few key questions for brands to answer when considering holiday participation:
- Is the holiday authentic to a brand’s voice and community?
- Can a brand reach the right customer on this holiday?
- Are promotions prepared to provide incentives for these customers?
- Are the tools in place to build relationships with customers that lasts for the long-term?
Trending in Marketing
On the Move has the latest from Amazon, Lovesac and more.
This week, leadership is changing at GameStop, Sorel and Beautycounter. Meanwhile, key executives are departing at Amazon, Wayfair and Lovesac.
Here’s a look at the latest shuffles:
GameStop CEO fired
GameStop announced the termination of Matthew Furlong as CEO on Wednesday. A brief statement did not provide a reason for the firing.
With the move, Chewy founder and activist investor Ryan Cohen was named executive chairman of the video game retailer. Cohen will be responsible for capital allocation and overseeing management.
It came as the company reported a 10% year-over-year decline in net sales for the first quarter. Meanwhile, the company’s net loss improved by 62%.
In an SEC filing, GameStop further added this “We believe the combination of these efforts to stabilize and optimize our core business and achieve sustained profitability while also focusing on capital allocation under Mr. Cohen’s leadership will further unlock long-term value creation for our stockholders.”
Cohen was revealed as GameStop's largest shareholder when he disclosed a 10% stake in the retailer in 2020. GameStop went on to become a leading name in the meme stock rise of 2021.
Sorel president steps down
Mark Nenow is stepping down as president of the Sorel brand in order to focus on his health.
After rising to the role in 2015, Nenow spearheaded a transformation of Columbia Sportswear-owned Sorel from a men’s workwear brand to a fashion-focused brand that led with a women’s offering of boots, sandals and sneakers.
“Mark led the brand to sales of $347 million in net sales in 2022,” said Columbia Sportswear CEO Tim Boyle, in a statement. “His leadership has been invaluable to this company, and we wish him the very best.”
Columbia will conduct a search for Nenow’s replacement. Craig Zanon, the company’s SVP of emerging brands, will lead Sorel in the interim.
Beautycounter appoints interim CEO
Beautycounter appointed board member Mindy Mackenzie as interim CEO, succeeding Marc Rey. According to the brand, Rey and the board “mutually decided to transition to a new phase of leadership for Beautycounter.”
McKenzie, a former executive at Carlyle, McKinsey and Jim Beam, will lead the company as it conducts a search for a permanent CEO. Additionally, former Natura & Co CEO Roberto Marques will join Beautycounter’s board as chair.
As part of the transition, Nicole Malozi is also joining the company as chief financial officer. She brings experience from Tatcha, Nike, and DFS Group Limited.
Amazon’s North America fulfillment chief departs
Melissa Nick, a VP of customer fulfillment for North America at Amazon, will leave the company, effective June 16, CNBC reported. Nick joined the company in 2014, and oversaw a region that included nearly 300 fulfillment centers. After doubling its supply chain footprint during the pandemic, Amazon recently reorganized its fulfillment operations to take a regional approach, as opposed to a national model that often resulted in items shipping across the country.
Wayfair’s chief commercial officer to retire
Jon Blotner (Courtesy photo)
Steve Oblak will retire from the role of chief commercial officer at home goods marketplace Wayfair. With the move, Jon Blotner will be promoted to chief commercial officer.
"Steve has served as a critical part of our leadership team and played a pivotal role in Wayfair's growth, helping us grow from a $250 million business when he joined to $12 billion in net revenue today,” said Wayfair CEO Niraj Shah, in a statement. “He oversaw countless milestones, from helping to launch the Wayfair brand as we brought together hundreds of sites into a single platform, to launching new categories, business lines, and geographies while overseeing our North American and European businesses, to leading our debut into physical retail.”
Blotner previously oversaw exclusive and specialty retail brands, as well as digital media at Wayfair. Before joining the company, he served as president of Gemvara.com prior to its 2016 acquisition by Berkshire Hathaway.
Lovesac announces CFO transition
Furniture retailer Lovesac said Donna Dellomo will retire as EVP and CFO, and move to an advisory role, effective June 30. Dellomo was with Lovesac for six years.
Keith Siegner was appointed as the next EVP and CFO. He brings experience as CFO of esports company Vindex, as well as executive roles at Yum! Brands, UBS Securities and Credit Suisse.
Additionally, Jack Krause will retire from the role of chief strategy officer, effective June 30. His responsibilities will be divided between CEO Shawn Nelson and president Mary Fox.
“Since joining Lovesac, Jack has played an instrumental role in transforming the Company into a true omni channel retailer by helping expand our physical touchpoints and digital platform as we continue to disrupt the industry,” said Nelson, in a statement.
NRF adds board members
The National Retail Federation announced the addition of five new board members. They include:
- Marguerite Adzick, founder and CEO, Addison Bay
- Harley Finkelstein, president, Shopify
- Ian Kahn, partner, PwC
- Sharon Leite, CEO, Ideal Image
- Carrie Tharp, VP, strategic industries, Google Cloud