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Kenneth Cole debuts iPhone app to anchor holiday marketing push

Kenneth Cole is placing a new iPhone application at the center of its “Be Careful What You Wish For” holiday season campaign, featuring the brand’s first digital wish list.

The Kenneth Cole Wish List is an interactive digital gift registry designed to let consumers to create and share their personal holiday wish lists with friends and family. The program designed as a utility, enabling shoppers to create comprehensive holiday wish lists by selecting items from a variety of tangible and intangible gifts that can either be related to Kenneth Cole or not. 

“This is not necessarily restricted to the iPhone, but one of the common challenges with apps, if you have a large pool of products, a lot of SKUs, to update the app is a lot more difficult than updating a mobile Web site,” said Mark Beccue, Tampa, FL-based analyst at ABI Research. “It can be a little tough for retailers to use apps if they’re looking to leverage it for the commerce piece.

“If they are looking at it for the marketing piece, that’s different, but on the mobile Web you don’t have to push out updates, and the check-out cart is easily updated,” he said. “What I’m seeing from a lot of retailers, I wouldn’t call it desperation, but they’re trying to put out as much as they can before the holidays, because it’s crunch time.

“Retailers are looking to get mobile-enabled in a lot of different ways.”

Kenneth Cole did not respond by press time.

Mobile wish list
Consumers can encourage others to fulfill their wish lists by sharing them through email, Facebook and Twitter.

The iPhone application is slated to launch Nov. 15, so users will be able to take their wish lists with them.

When near a Kenneth Cole, consumers will receive a reminder on their phones about a wish list item that remains to be fulfilled.

Wish lists are created by selecting items from a list of gift categories that have been curated by Kenneth Cole and the Kenneth Cole community, some of which include women’s clothing, men’s accessories, electronics, beauty, art and real estate.

Doing Good is a list of less-tangible gifts such as supporting an important cause, fulfilling a dream or peace on earth.

Participants can recommend that items be added to the existing gift categories that they are not able to find.

Shoppers in need of gift ideas can visit the “Our Friends” section of the site to check out lists created by Kenneth Cole himself, as well as some of the A-list friends of the brand.

In the spirit of holiday gift giving, Kenneth Cole will award surprise badges and incentives to people acting on their wish lists.

Consumers that add too many Triumph Bonnevilles to their list may get a “Greedy” badge.

For those that suggest a contribution to their favorite charity, the company will add a link to the organization’s Web site in an effort to encourage donations and volunteerism, and consumers may also be bestowed a “Hero” badge.

While the brand retailer does have a commerce-enabled mobile Web site, the iPhone application does not have a shopping or payments component. The application is designed to create brand loyalty and drive consumers in-store.

“Retailers’ best customers typically do have a smartphone and tend to use apps—they are the ones that are most likely to buy from them,” Mr. Beccue said. “Maybe they didn’t have time to make it commerce-enabled, but I would question their strategy.

“If you put out an app, you have to realize that your best customers are going to be using it, and you better make it so they can buy from it, because you’re leaving money on the table if you don’t,” he said. “From an app perspective, how interoperable is it?

“If there’s a broad net, wish lists and gift lists are an important aspect to mobile these days from a commerce marketing perspective—the key is who can participate.”

After this article had already been published, Kenneth Cole clarified a key aspect of its application: It is in fact commerce-enabled.

“We are commerce-enabled, meaning you can click within a wish list and buy Kenneth Cole items,” said Samantha Cohen, spokeswoman for Kenneth Cole, New York.

Final Take
Tom Davis, vice president of ecommerce at Kenneth Cole Productions