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Macala Wright: How Gap Is Winning With Mobile Millennials

GAP's SMS x Passbook Offer campaign see success in mobile marketing in North America.

Macala Wright
Macala Wright on January 27, 2014. @macala

In the past year, the focus of marketing to Gen X has shifted to Gen Y, given the consumer spending power of growing group. Marketing to them given is at the forefront of every marketer’s mind. And we’re looking for examples of creative approaches to marketing that don’t require completely reinventing the wheel and can always help our end of the year bottom lines.

Over the Holiday, GAP secretly launched an unorthodox SMS x Passbook Offer campaign to support their current “Make Love” campaign. Partnering with holiday travel providers and destinations such as Southwest Airlines, Aloft Hotels, Bliss Spa, Barnes and Noble and DreamDry, the company aimed to show up to a new customer base in a new way. With these partners, GAP seeded ‘Love Notes’ that have a SMS prompt to text a short code. Mobile then receive a mobile link to an exclusive offer from Gap, which you can seamlessly save to Passbook Offers.

Rachel Tipograph, Director, Global Digital and Social Media and Olivia Doyne, Senior Director, Global & North America Marketing for GAP shared their insights on mobile marketing when targeting constantly moving consumers.

How effective was “Make Love” campaign overall?

Gap brand is synonymous with the holiday season. Our “Make Love” campaign continued the tradition of inspiring our employees and consumers to create acts of love within their communities. This year we saw it in a big way with the world’s positive reaction on Twitter and across the airways. Love Connections campaign drove the highest SMS engagement we’ve seen in North America.

How did the partner marketing aspects affect campaign success?

Our SMS x Passbook offer “Make Love” campaign was developed to engage likeminded brands to reach a new consumer in an unconventional manner. Delivering unexpected “love notes” to surprise partners’ customers was an idea many were excited to experiment with. Our partners were the heart of the program— it was a way for them to surprise and delight their customers in an unconventional way. Throughout the course of the three-week program, we heard very positive feedback from our partners—their customers thought the love notes were fun and clever. Additionally, we worked with several of our partners to offer Gap customers some special treats—for example, two free drinks for Aloft Hotel guests when booking during Love Connections program dates and 15 percent off any new NOOK at Barnes & Noble.

What was the impact of using SMS and the Passbook offer on GAP’s mobile, millennial audience?

Our partners engage with customers in physical, digital and transient environments. The core device and consumer behavior across all partners and at Gap is our use of mobile phones. Using SMS as the mechanism allowed us to engage with as many consumers as possible, and by leveraging Passbook Offers, we were able to make coupon redemption seamless for iPhone users.

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What are three things retail brands need to consider as part of their mobile marketing strategy in order to be successful?

  1. First is contextual value. If you’re not delivering an offer of value at a contextual point in time (geo-location, weather, cultural moment, spend habits), no one is going to engage with your offer in mobile.
  2. Second is utility. Your communication with consumers in mobile must be seamless and integrate with as many useful applications as possible. Asking people to change their behavior, download a new app is a huge hurdle.
  3. Third is personal entertainment. Mobile is a “me” environment. You do everything with it, including your primary device for entertainment consumption. Ensure you’re producing content and experiences that can hold someone’s attention against the competition which is not limited to your business competitors but literally any action a consumer might use their mobile phone for.

What are two things they need to take into consideration for marketing specifically to millennials and mobile marketing strategy?

  1. Mobile shouldn’t be perceived as a tangential strategy to everything else you’re doing. Mobile needs to be the core of all strategies when engaging with millennials.
  2. Audiences are fragmented across the mobile web and applications unlike TV in which you can “own time” around a specific program. Partnerships are key to acquiring and engaging new audiences.

How does timing and planning effect campaign success during peak retail times such as the holidays?

The holidays are the most competitive time of year for marketers. It’s important to have an integrated message across all channels, so you don’t further dilute your voice. Consumer behaviors and media consumption patterns also shift season to season, so designing programs and partnerships that make sense based on these changes are key.

TOPICS: Fashion, Youth
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Macala Wright is a business strategist and research analyst with a passion for journalism. As a writer, she merges her passion for storytelling and narrative with her deep understanding of technology and strategy to help bring innovative ideas, products and programs to life. Interested in the tools and platforms that society uses to communicate culture, her writing and studies explore how people can become better communicators in order to shape their futures, share their ideas and create a better world to live in.

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