ann taylor loft 360 pr package
Post on 06-Apr-2016
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Company Background Ann Taylor's stock is the most attractive of any retailer's, says UBS in its latest global equity research report. This is largely due to its LOFT spinoff, which was launched in 1996 and targets young professionals with more casual, trendy clothing. This is a big turnaround for a company that was cutting jobs and closing stores as recently as 2009. On top of high sales from the fall, Ann Taylor is scoring points with its latest advertising campaigns, which features celebrities like Katie Holmes and signs are good for holiday lines, according to UBS. The company has also thrown $15 million into e-commerce which has proved to be smart, because online sales for both brands are up 30%. So it's no surprise that Ann Taylor's LOFT was recently named the fastest growing brand in America by RetailSails, with a 161% year-over-year growth.
Loft, the lower-priced, more casual Ann Taylor spin-off, is a bit of an anomaly in retail. While competitors like Talbots and Gap are struggling, Loft has hit its stride. WWD reports that the brand has just registered 11 consecutive quarters of growth, which is fairly remarkable in the current retail climate.
On the other hand, big sister brand Ann Taylor is not struggling, exactly, but it's not skipping down Cash Lane, either. After several seasons of ups and downs, WWD reports that this is the first quarter in some time that in-store sales are up. Even so, Ann Taylor sales totaled $233.3 million last quarter, compared to $361.6 million at Loft. Of the two brands, Ann Taylor has been around longer and has a stronger reputation for quality and lifestyle (is wasn't until 2009 that Loft dropped the Ann Taylor from it's name and was sent out into the retail world on its own two slightly lower-priced feet.) But Loft now has almost twice as many stores as Ann Taylor and seems to have found its niche. Loft's president Gary Muto attributes the brand's strength to its accessibility. "We never do super-serious clothing. There's definitely more of a casual handle here. We're not intimidating at all. It's welcoming. It's approachable fashion," he told WWD. Ann Inc.'s CEO Kay Krill thinks it's about versatility. "It's a brand that works everywhere, in urban areas, suburban areas, small markets, mid-markets, lifestyle centers," she said. "It's a brand that appeals to everybody. It's ageless." Also, it's about pricing. The most expensive item currently listed on Loft.com's "New Arrivals" page is a $148 printed trench coat. Everything else is under $100, and 70% to 80% of the brand's merchandise is always priced under $50. The brand that I chose to focus on for this weeks assignment is Ann Taylor LOFT, which is now formally known just solely as LOFT. The umbrella of the Ann Taylor brand includes Ann Taylor, LOFT, Ann Taylor Factory Store, and LOFT Outlet. With all four brands existing as a womans retail store, they are committed to meeting the evolving needs of women who want feminine, stylish and versatile fashions that offer great quality and value and
that inspire women to look as beautiful as they feel as said by Kay Krill, who is the President and CEO of the Ann Taylor brands. The reason I chose to focus mainly LOFT was firstly because I used to work there, and secondly, they recently did a total rebranding of LOFT that I was able to witness while I was still working at the store. As I had mentioned before, LOFT did a complete rebranding in April 2010. According to Styleite, LOFT took to a Tumblr site to begin their rebranding transformation, and revamped the site www.liveloveLOFT.com. The site featured blog posts about new arrivals of clothing and accessories to the store, as well as tips and tricks for creating the perfect outfit with the LOFT brand. They also allowed guest bloggers to compose posts about potential outfits for LOFT clients/readers of the blog, how to get the most out of a versatile piece of clothing or accessory from LOFT, etc. From the perspective I had while working in the store during the rebranding, reestablishing the brand for LOFT was extremely important for its survival. The brand of Ann Taylor (and all of the brands that fall under that umbrella) has had the reputation as being an old lady brand or the place women could go to if they needed a business suit. Ann Taylor was never really the brand that women thought of when they were looking for a hip or trendy outfit. Thats where LOFT came in. LOFT was supposed to be the segment of Ann Taylor that was the younger part of the brand, but it could not seem to outrun the shadow of the stuffy reputation of Ann Taylor. Not to mention, LOFT had to keep up with competitors like J.Crew and Banana Republic - two popular brands targeted to young, sophisticated and hip individuals (both men and women). Enter the rebranding. I was able to witness LOFTs rebranding first hand as I saw the store receive a fresh coat of a completely different color of paint, more vibrant colors in the clothing and accessories, the sign outside of the store as well as the shopping bags
customers carried out of the store go from Ann Taylor LOFT to just LOFT and so on. Along with their blog site as previously mentioned, LOFT also called upon Jessica Schroeder, who has a popular Tumblr site called What I Wore. This partnership allowed women, who may look up to Schroeder, to achieve the same look that she does while creating the look with LOFT products. Through LOFTs dynamic e-commerce and presence, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the informal partnership of bloggers and the brand still holds true. Many of my searches that came up would trace back to female bloggers pages where many of the women were doing the same thing Jessica Schroeder did feature a picture of an outfit she was wearing, and promote LOFT at the same time. With sites like "My Wardrobe Today" and others, women are eagerly sharing LOFT products and are proud to do so. With the rebranding of LOFT still being fairly new, it was (and still is) so very important to monitor both negative and positive feedback (more so the negative). With the rebranding, LOFT is attempting to not only maintain the current consumer base they have established over the years, but they are also trying to gain a new, younger consumer base who will be brand loyals to the LOFT brand as they grow into the brand. With my monitoring, I did not really witness any negative feedback about the brand or the rebranding, which proves to me that LOFT made a move in a great direction. This positive feedback will be highly beneficial to the brand image, as it's reinforcing everything wonderful that the brand was initially built on, while establishing that it is very capable of keeping up with the changing times.
SWOT Analysis: LOFT Strengths: Strong brand identity and heritage. Focus on value concepts that appeal to customers in the current market They have had well known celebrity endorsers and faces of the brand. Robust growth in sales and profits They have an iconic style that is tailored for the modern working woman and that is always evolving to meet her changing aspirations and roles. Weakness: Reliance on third-party manufacturers Dependence on a single distribution center and third party distribution The brand has a fixed image in peoples minds that would be hard to change.
It is a very American brand that focuses on the classic American style. Opportunities: The brand Ann Taylor has the option of branching out to other countries (as they are thinking of doing in the UK). They could increase their market range possibly introducing some lower priced items as entry-level products. Online and outlet sales channels expand market reach Threats: Intense competition may erode the market share Product quality Oversized age demographic
Public Relations Plan: LOFT Who are we trying to reach? Some important identifiers include inspiring, engaging, genuine, happiness. The Loft customer dresses how she wants to feel, whereas the Ann customer goes through her agenda and thinks, What do I need to look like for what Im going to do today? She wants to be appropriately dressed for what she does, and the Loft girl wants to feel good. We want to make the brand shift from Ann Taylor LOFTs persona of being an Old Lady brand to one of a lifestyle brand for young stylish professionals. Using innovative technology, Social media platforms, and a community of well-connected LOFT girls. We believe we can create a better customer culture for our clients old and new.
Marketing Objective: At the core of our strategy is our commitment to strengthening our connection to our client. With an exceptionally strong brand, our goal is to be there for her wherever and whenever she chooses to shop, by providing her with an engaging client experience across all of our channels.
PR Objective: LOFT is the trusted personal stylist for the woman who lives a casual, layered life. We aim to inspire her, and cultivate a genuine relationship thats expressed in our promise to be the curator of her style, support her as an individual and value her passion and investment in our brand. We wish to rebrand LOFT as the go-to lifestyle brand for the stylish young professional.
Strategy I: Technology Using technology to reach the 28-35 ages, social media sharing, etc. Tactic I: Interactive Storefront Displays
Interactive tablets will be placed in mall-scapes and outdoor buildings transforming storefronts in high-traffic location into massive displays that allure and captivate Chinese consumers nearby. The storefront display will allow consumers to engage themselves with LOFTs brand before stepping foot inside stores and feature multiple level of engagement like virtual styling with LOFTs products showing before and after results images. Users could then enter their social media feeds or email address to receive their photo to share with their friends and inner circle.
Tactic II: Digital Styling Kiosks
Chicago Transit Association will team with LOFT to launch an interactive "virtual retail" kiosk that scan the image of the user and suggest product and styling to fit both their body shape and also their personal style incorporating the LOFT Girl. The kiosk's large screen, situated next to a full-length smart mirror, is loaded with software that scans the user to create digital animations that represent their silhouette. The results for the user will appear alongside their reflection, accompanied by recommended products from this seasons LOFT line. The kiosk gives customers the option to purchase the recommended products (Shipping to their home), or if they decide not buy, they can opt to send the look to their email to save for later or post on their social media sights. A third screen on the kiosk displays blog posts and photos from influential bloggers.
Tactic III: LOFT Pop-up Stores Pop-up Stores will be placed in high traffic locations giving consumers a chance to receive our LOFT Girl VIP treatment. LOFT will have stylists on hand to create striking looks for clients, using LOFTs clothing. Participants will be encouraged to snap their photo to be featured in LOFTs beauty look book and receive a free tote to take home.
Tactic IV: Social Media One Moment to Wow Campaign
Social media tactic: Use our One Moment to Wow for hastags or name of contest. Selfies with LOFT encourages consumers to post photos with their favorite LOFT products on Twitter with the hashtag #momenttowow or tag us in your selfie on Facebook. By doing this, clients will automatically be entered in a drawing for a tote filled with LOFT products. A winner will be drawn every Monday and on Valentines Day for the month of February.
Strategy II: The Loft Girl Community We want to launch a new ambassador program, LOFT Girls. LOFT Girls are engaged, energetic and dynamic women who have a vested interest in their local community, charity, friends and family, and most importantly fashion and shopping! These girls are selected because of their social capital both in their societal circles along with their professional ones. Tactic I: Shopping/Social Events Catered to LOFT Creating shopping events that deliver an atmosphere more compliant with our target clienteles social lives. We want to attract women that share their great style not only with their friends but also with us. Our LOFT girls are our inspiration and creating this genuine connecting with them will help promote word of mouth PR. Tactic II: Word of Mouth PR through LOFT Girl Channels
There is one place women find advice and will hold heartedly trust it. Their girlfriends. Creating the buzz through these LOFT girls will create the word of mouth PR that can push the brand into new markets.