The Business Pursuit

How Kate Spade New York merges content and commerce

No matter how stylish it is, a handbag is just a handbag. But a Kate Spate New York handbag is part of a story—and stories sell. Last week at Merch ’12Johanna Murphy, VP of e-commerce and Kristina DiMatteo, Digital Marketing Manager at Kate Spate New York gave the audience an inside look at how the brand brings stories to life.

“At Kate Spade New York, we don’t think of content and commerce as two separate things,” said Murphy. “They’re one and the same to us. Sometimes products turn into stories. Sometimes stories turn into products, but everything we do is centered around a concept or a story.”

And their story is one of a kind. The two colleagues described a recent campaign around the creative concept of a girl band on a bus tour. Designed to appeal to a young, hip demographic, the girl band campaign involved a tour bus pop-up store, a battle of the bands contest powered by social media, and a partnership with the band the Vivian Girls, who gave concerts throughout the campaign and ended with a performance at SXSW. The campaign was multi-faceted and totally integrated—print, a Pandora channel, social media, microsite, store styling and design, and much more. The company even changed the call center hold music to a girl band mix.

The creative campaign was fresh and inspiring, and so was the result—a dramatic boost in engagement and a 71 percent year-over-year lift in e-commerce sales. Acknowledging that stories sell, the brand marketing and e-commerce teams practice a give-and-take that some retail brands find difficult. Murphy said the key to working together successfully is to learn how to pick your battles and check your ego at the door. Internally, it’s important to remember that telling a story is important, and both teams share a common goal.

You can see this balance in practice on the Kate Spade New York homepage, where two equally weighted options present “Shop” and “Blog”. While you shop, there’s still a narrative. On the blog, you’ll still find products. Search results return both content and products. Creative campaigns are consistent and totally integrated across the site, in store windows, in print ads, on Facebook—everywhere.

Murphy believes the emphasis on using digital not as not just a sales channel, but a representation of Kate Spade as an enterprise has helped the brand experience rapid growth in the past few years. The girl band concept illustrates how a good story can invigorate everyone – among internal teams and customers. Regardless of whether e-commerce or marketing is making the decisions on any given day, both teams are focused on the same thing. And when you’re trying something new, encouraging creativity, working collaboratively and inspiring your customers, success will follow.

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