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What Is The Role Of The Consumer In Retail Today?

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24 Seven Founder and CEO, Celeste Gudas, is a proud board member of the YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund, and we had the privilege of hosting their #FSFAlumni Spring Panel at our NY HQ. The topic for the evening was the role of the consumer in retail today and what brands need to do to effectively engage customers. The impressive panel included,  Heather Mee, EVP of Marketing at Global Brands Group, Michael Alic, Managing Director, Fashion at UBM, Aliza Licht, EVP of Brand Marketing & Communications at alice + olivia, and Alexandra Taylor, SVP of Marketing at Authentic Brands Group.

Connecting with your consumer

The panel kicked off with a number of questions focused on the retail industry today. When asked about how alice + olivia effectively connects with their consumer, Aliza Licht said you can't have just one strategy. Everything has to be 360, all the teams have to work together. For one product they'll do paid search, send a dedicated email, work with the ecommerce team to make sure the product is showcased on the website, confirm inventory and deploy a social strategy. All cylinders have to be firing.

Stay relevant

Heather Mee was asked about how brands can stay relevant today. She offered the example of Frye, which is a 155 year old brand, that stays true to it's heritage while successfully navigating expansion into new categories (like apparel). She said for Frye it's been really important to come back to the history of the brand. Mee gave credit to brands that have stayed true to their vision and voice and found success in doing so, mentioning Glossier and Milk Makeup.

Are Influencers for your brand?

On the topic of working with influencers, the panelists had a lot to share about their individual strategies. Alexandra Taylor said that at Authentic Brands Group they focus on the ROI and try to remain true to the brand by mindfully selecting micro-influencers in addition to mega-influencers. Licht added that at alice + olivia they start by engaging with people who are already posting about the brand. By tapping into those content creators the relationship is much more organic. She noted that it's important to label content that is sponsored as such, continuing the theme of the importance of transparency and authenticity.

Media buys

Michael Alic tackled the tough question of whether or not print advertising was still viable. He suggested that we should think of print as a luxury product when determining the allocation of media spend. And that at the end of the day you must always come back to where your audience is, if they're reading print then go for it. The overarching theme of the evening was that truly successful brand have a unique story and voice that must be upheld. Whether you're communicating and engaging with customers, determining media spend and allocating marketing budget, working with influencers or developing a social media strategy the essence of the brand must be top of mind. A deep understanding of your target consumer, who they are, where they hang out, shop etc. is also key.

Interested in attending one of our future panel events? Stay in the know with our event series here!