May 8, 2019
Joining us on the Marketing Mix Podcast is Sandra Campos, CEO at Diane von Furstenberg. Sandra talks successfully shifting luxury heritage brands into the digital landscape, the value of localized influencer marketing strategies and how to avoid the risk of offensive brand messaging. In discussing the impact technological innovations have on the fashion industry, Sandra shares how Diane von Furstenberg is using nuanced methods of customer service to provide the ultimate shopping experience by bridging the gap between online and in-store.
Jeff Ragovin: Diane von Furstenberg was founded in the 70’s and has been famous for its staple wrap dress. What’s the key to maintaining a heritage brand in an industry that's so often driven by trends?
Sandra Campos: When I started just over a year ago, we decided we wanted to bring the brand back to where we started and to what the core values of Diane von Furstenberg are - empowering women and inspiring confidence. As Diane says all the time, it's about helping women be the women they want to be.
The wrap dress allowed and afforded Diane the ability to become independent because she sold so many of them and created something that hadn't previously existed, so she had a very unique position in the marketplace back in the 1970’s when she launched.
Overtime, the brand has globally expanded into more of a lifestyle brand for women everywhere. Over the past year, we have been trying to take the brand, which had been very focused on a traditional wholesale type of mentality, to a more to direct-to-consumer model.
Fashion is about trends - so many things evolve - but no one asks Hermes if they're on trend for the month, and it's the same for Diane von Furstenberg. We have never been a brand that has been about trend, we will never be the flavor of the month, but we are absolutely that tried and true heritage brand that has great quality products that fulfil all the needs of professional women everyday.
Jeff Ragovin: How does a luxury, heritage fashion brand like Diane von Furstenberg adapt and evolve into this newly shifted digital landscape?
Sandra Campos: Diane was the first influencer, and she continues to be an influence to women everywhere. When I first met with Diane, I was very surprised with just how innovative she is, how on top of culture she is, and how relevant she continues to be herself. The brand was never archaic in thinking at all. Being so involved in the New York fashion community, she has been very much aware of where the brand has needed to go.
We’re shifting from being sales-oriented in our messaging to being about inclusivity in our community. It doesn't matter that you’re buying our product, what matters is that we’re helping you be the woman you want to be through the knowledge we are sharing, the community activations we are creating, and the inspiration that we are messaging to you. We’re focusing on authenticity and building a community first - everything else will follow.
Jeff Ragovin: Fashion bloggers are some of the influencers that are being leveraged the most. Are you tapping into any type of influencer strategy?
Sandra Campos: We have gone from doing what everyone else does in terms of paying bloggers to promote our products and placement, to really identifying who is part of our community. From Rent The Runway’s Jennifer Hyman to Bumble’s Whitney Wolfe Herd, Diane has impacted and inspired so many different women.
Diane was one of the first that helped to really jumpstart the careers of Karly Kloss and Kendall Jenner. So, we are really making it more about the long-term Diane von Furstenberg family that really believes in the brand and the mission.
Jeff Ragovin: You mentioned the Jenners. People look to celebrities to see what they're wearing. Do you think macro-influencers are more important in the fashion industry than micro?
Sandra Campos: As we look to activate our own communities around the world in different cities, we are focused on local influential women. We want to give local women a platform to empower themselves both in terms of entrepreneurship and philanthropy. Are people looking to celebrities for fashion inspiration? Sure, but I don't think that is dictating what they are wearing.
Jeff Ragovin: You helped to make Juicy Couture “cool” again. Do you see the trend of rebranding vintage labels becoming saturated?
Sandra Campos: I have been responsible for a lot of brands that have been turned around. I believe that people want to be associated with a brand that has a purpose and is mission-oriented, but there really needs to have an emotional impact because the industry is saturated. No one needs any more products, but what you want is to be connected to something for a reason and to feel good about yourself and what you're doing. It's less about how much we’re selling, and more about what we’re doing to help women.
Jeff Ragovin: Some of the leading luxury fashion brands have received bad press for inappropriate or offensive brand messaging this year. How do brands that are so well crafted make mistakes like this?
Sandra Campos: I think companies get on auto-pilot and are churning out content based on deadlines and initiatives. At the end of the day, we have to put ourselves in the consumer's shoes and know that customers’ journey. You have to go to the stores and listen to the customers and you make sure you are addressing them correctly by getting to know them.
Jeff Ragovin: Does everything have to be digital and online nowadays?
Sandra Campos: Online and offline are both equally important. We are localizing our stores and marketing efforts by concentrating on our clientele. From an e-commerce and online standpoint, we ensure the customer experience isn’t different from online to in-store. We have women who are taking time away from their jobs and their families to come into our stores, so we are focused on helping make them feel confident and empowered.
In London, we are working with a service called TOSHI (founded by a woman who was on the initial team at Net-a-Porter). If someone is online shopping, TOSHI can have that product delivered within a couple of hours. In addition, they will also deliver accessories they think the customer may be interested in. That’s one way we’re working between online and in-store to help customers and provide them with convenience.
We’re adding a tool called HERO that's going to help our customers with support with sizing and putting together complete outfits while they're shopping online. That tool will connect with our sales team and stylists so that they can communicate via message or video chat with the customer directly.
Those are just a couple of ways we are trying to customize and bring cohesion to online and in-store shopping experiences.
Jeff Ragovin: How are you maintaining the success with new technological advancements impacting the industry?
Sandra Campos: We are focused on three things overall as a company: retain, regain and convert. Retaining the current customer we have - we know who she is, we are addressing her needs and we want her to shop more often. Regain - regaining customers that have been lapsed customers over time, whether online, in-store or through all the different creative changes that have happened in the company and brand - we want to make sure that they know Diane von Furstenberg is back! Convert - converting new customers, we do this through acquisition strategies via digital media buys and also through our messaging, how we create content and where we distribute it. Diane now has a YouTube partnership so we have a lot of video content for the brand. We focus on making sure everything we do aligns back to retaining the customers we have, regaining the customers that lapsed and converting new ones that may not know about the brand.
We just launched TVF for DVF by Diane’s granddaughter, Talita. Diane von Furstenberg is a heritage brand and Diane is really looking at the legacy aspect of the business. We launched TVF about a week ago and it's been widely successful among a younger demographic in a new generation.
Jeff Ragovin: What’s been the most interesting thing that you've read in the last week?
Sandra Campos: I read so many different things! I speak a lot with my eldest daughter about women and women in business. What she actually introduced to me - which I hadn't known about - is the glass escalator effect. It refers to the idea that women have had to compete for that one seat at the table. What’s she's discussing at college in her level is that now this generation is focused on creating more seats at the table for women so that they don't have to compete with each other for just one.
Jeff Ragovin: Thank you for joining the Marketing Mix Podcast.
Please note, the above has been paraphrased for editorial purposes