Last week, I attended an excellent conference put on by LIMA, the International Licensing Industry Merchandisers’ Association. Entitled, the "Retail & Branding Conference," the event offered some excellent speakers:
Bill Brand, Executive VP, Marketing and Business Development for HSN
Jeff Fagel, Director of Brand Development, Sears Holdings
Yehuda Shmidman, Chief Operating Officer, Iconix Brand Group
Carol Spieckerman, President, newmarketbuilders
The conference’s intent was to provide insights on “the future of branding, collaboration and shopper-centric strategies.” My key take away was the importance of storytelling, disruption and even gaming in getting the brand message across to consumers.
The message from HSN was that social interaction is a major driver in consumer purchases. HSN (and, by the way, if you have not watched HSN lately you really should) uses warm media figures like Queen Latifah to brand their products. HSN expects Queen Latifah and the other celebrities behind their brands to interact on the set, sometimes for hours, with viewers. They also make sure that whomever they choose has a powerful back story that connects with their female viewership.
In addition, HSN is engaging their viewers “seamlessly” across all platforms. That means the Internet, cell phones (cell phone purchases are leading growth) and gaming. I was particularly impressed by HSN’s use of social gaming on their website to keep consumers involved with
the brand while they are watching and not watching the channel. The idea is that as long as the consumer is playing an HSN game, they are involved with the brand.
Jeff Fagel from Kmart talked about his company’s use of disruptive marketing to revise their view of their brand. They wanted to change the inherited way that consumers see Kmart. They did so by creating a strong back story about Kmart’s use of highly talented and engaged designers to create their brands. The personal side of the designers was featured as they went about their jobs. The company got a documentarian to shoot videos that were mini documentaries and completely out of the norm for Kmart in substance and style. The result has been an increase in the perception of Kmart and its products.
I unfortunatley had to leave prior Carol Spieckerman's talk. Carol is one of the sharpest people in the consumer products industry so I will see if I can get her to tell me some of what I missed. All in all, it was a very valuable day.