The following excerpt, from the article Increasing Interactivity: Hollister engages its core market across digital experiences, was written by Karen M. Kroll and published on NRF's Stores. Kroll describes a recent promotion implemented by Hollister and Mass Relevance, a firm that helps brands and retailers filter and integrate social experiences into their media and marketing efforts.
Because Hollister shares a similar target audience as college stores, this idea could be recreated on your campus. Although this campaign was conducted on a large-scale level, there's no reason your store couldn't tailor it to meet your needs. Take a look:
Hollister has nearly 600 stores around the world (about 500 in the United States) offering apparel and accessories inspired by the Southern California lifestyle. The team at Hollister considered creating a Facebook store, but ultimately decided that wasn’t the right path for the brand. Instead, they felt a more relevant approach was to “take social and infuse it into a commerce environment,” says Billy May, group vice president of e-commerce, digital and CRM with Abercrombie & Fitch, parent company of Hollister.
Hollister spends very little on paid marketing, May says, preferring to interact with its customers through such venues as Facebook (more than 10 million fans) and Twitter (560,000 followers). May points out that teens — the company’s core market — are so connected that traditional, paid advertising is less effective than it was even three to five years ago.
To better connect with customers, Hollister launched a Flock-to-Unlock Twitter campaign. Gaining 50,000 tweets with a #inHollister hashtag within a one-day period unlocked a limited-time offer of select t-shirts at a promotional price.
“We wanted to engender conversation and create consumer interest,” May says, “and hopefully drive critical mass in such a way that the behavior had a payoff.”
Hollister launched the campaign just before spring break season. It unfolded primarily on Twitter, but Hollister kept its customers aware of the campaign’s progress, regularly updating the percentage of tweets still needed to unlock the promotion on its website and Facebook page.
By any measure, the campaign was a huge success: Online sales jumped 45 percent over a typical day and social media mentions of Hollister skyrocketed 600 percent during the period. “Consumer receptivity absolutely exceeded expectations,” May says. “We were surprised at how quickly consumers responded.” In fact, the company sold through 95 percent of the stock it purchased for the promotion.
The promotion “fit very closely to our DNA,” May says. Rather than purchasing passive, one-way messages via paid media, the promotion was “a way for us to drive engagement and encourage interaction with the brand,” he says.
Although Hollister doesn’t want to recreate the Flock-to-Unlock promotion — “it would lose its impact,” May says — the company is planning similar future promotions because it was an effective way to engage customers and track the results. That’s in contrast to most forms of paid advertising, where it’s often not clear just where the ads are showing up or who is seeing them.
“This was a way to talk to fans and drive influencers, while at the same time having a very effective campaign ROI,” May says.