Authenticity drives results for Kari Gran on International Women's Day

The woman-founded skincare brand's VP of customer marketing shares the ingredients for a successful holiday campaign.

Kari Gran skincare

Kari Gran Skincare mixes promos and content on International Women's Day. (Courtesy photo)

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?

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