Experiential retail has become a popular buzzword in the industry, as retailers seek to deliver memorable experiences in stores, both to build relationships with customers and grow sales. For brands like jewelry retailer Kendra Scott, there’s no better way to do that than with in-store events. At each of its 94 stores, the brand hosts 12 to 20 events per month.
During a pre-NRF 2019 event hosted by the jewelry brand alongside event marketing solution provider Splash, Kendra Scott Director of Retail Marketing Amy Young sat down for a fireside chat with Splash Co-Founder and CEO Ben Hindman to discuss the brand’s unique event strategies and what drives their success.
Q: How do you leverage events as part of Kendra Scott’s go-to-market strategy?
Amy Young: Events are a huge revenue driver for us. We task our stores with hosting an insane number of events on a weekly basis, and a lot of times we have our influencer events, local media events and shopping parties. We have what we call Kendra Gives Back (KGB), which is where we tap into the local community — local charities and local causes — and host events where a percentage of proceeds from that event go back to the charity. That’s our way to really connect with customers while also driving revenue, gaining new customers and also giving back to charities.
We crank them out and keep the doors open [during the events]. Whenever someone comes in, we explain that a percentage of sales from that day will be going back to XYZ organization. We use the opportunity to introduce the passerby to the hosts and go from there.
Q: What’s needed to make these all work?
Young: We have events teams dedicated to each store. Local marketing is a huge focus for us, and they are out on the ground introducing themselves and having the conversations. They let them know how we can help them, and that our events are really a platform for our charity partners. Our teams are a well-oiled machine and they know they are their own marketing and PR mavens and own that community. They are some of the most well-connected human beings I’ve ever met. They are keeping their fingers on the pulse in the local communities.
Philanthropy is one of the core pillars of our brand and it’s also something that’s close to Kendra Scott. She says we always have something to give. So when hiring anyone, philanthropy has to be something that drives them, that they have been involved in in a previous life, or something that they want to get into. They understand the importance of philanthropy and what that means to the brand and Kendra herself.
Q: How do you pick the right charities to partner with?
Young: It’s about vetting them and having that face-to-face conversation, and just making sure that our missions align. Our core pillars are family, fashion and philanthropy. We really try to keep the charities that we partner with aligned with those core pillars. What I try to do is think, ‘Do our event partners resonate with our customer? Are they someone she wants to meet or that she aspires to be? Is it something that she cares about?’ Then we try to expand that relationship.
Q: Companies often have issues scaling up store-level and local events. How do you deal with that challenge?
Young: We use Splash a lot for that. We focus on quality control. It’s really about having the hard facts and analytics. A major KPI for us is acquisition and customer retention. So, Sally Sue loves an event based on rescued animals, while Jane Doe loves an event that gives back to women leadership in businesses. We can really customize how we’re speaking to her on different channels, and that’s been a huge help for us.
Q: What are some ways you format events to create special moments?
Young: It used to be just putting out champagne and some macarons… then it was getting a DJ. We still have champagne at every event, but I always ask myself and the events team, What is she going to remember? What is she taking an Instagram picture of in our store? What is she going to tell her girlfriends about? Did she learn something? Did she meet someone cool that she can network with in the future? Did she leave feeling like she’s part of our family; did she leave feeling empowered? If she puts on a piece of jewelry that she bought at that event, what is the emotion that’s going to resonate with her? I try to dig deep on an emotional level.
Q: How do you integrate in-store sales during events?
Young: We like to integrate a shopping incentive into our events — like a gift with purchase of a limited-edition product — and that’s been really successful for us. The thing about the KGB events in particular — they have to purchase during that two-hour event timeframe for the percentage of proceeds to go back to the cause. So that is the key that will get them to buy then and there. It’s clear on the invitations, the store associates make it known.
Q: What kinds of processes have you developed for promoting these events?
Young: Thanks to Splash, we have lists now. Before it was just sending to our same customer friends over and over, which was getting tired. So we’re building lists and doing a lot of email outreach.
Social media is fantastic. We’ve been exploring a lot with Instagram and Facebook ads whenever we have the opportunity.
We are also leaning on hosts to promote. We create an invite for them, but then again, it’s also that incentive — if you’re trying to raise something for XYZ and you’re inviting your friends out, you want to provide a great event. The fact that they’re personally and emotionally invested as well is going to always be a great factor.
Q: Can you tell me about your internal associate training for events?
Young: They are hired with an event/philanthropic mindset. They go through extensive training with our Ops team. We have tons of handbooks and guides and we have area event managers who are really hands on and coach them and guide them. It’s important for our store associates to know the DNA of our brand.
Q: What about the non-charity events?
Young: We do a lot of local influencer events. I think that every market now has a local influencer community. They may not have 2 million followers, but they have been really successful for us just because some of those local influencers and markets get overlooked sometimes if they’re not in New York or L.A. They’re appreciative of the brand and become great spokespeople for us, but they also do have followings.
We also have quarterly collection launch events. Those have been great too, where we take inspiration and use the platform as a way to share Kendra’s direct design inspiration and the reasoning behind the collection, the versatility of it and how it can tie back to previous purchases.