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Saks appeals to fashionable foodies with ongoing social campaign

Retailer Saks Fifth Avenue is bringing the culinary expertise of its in-store chefs to its consumers’ homes with a new online series.

#SaksCraves spans the department store chain’s POV blog and social media channels, featuring recipes, videos and content that aim to inspire consumers to experiment with food in their own kitchens. While fashion retailers typically focus on the merchandise available in-store, it can be beneficial to highlight the other experiences awaiting consumers when they come to shop.

“Saks is obviously world renowned as a luxury retail destination, but not many people know about the culinary offerings inside Saks stores,” said Christine Kirk, CEO of Social Muse Communications, Los Angeles. “The #SaksCraves campaign is a great way to introduce the dining options at Saks to its shoppers, and also help keep them top of mind with shoppers who do already know about them.

“The series shows that Saks holds its same high standards to its dining offerings as it does to its retail and shopping experience,” she said. “Consumers who expect a certain level of service and exclusivity while shopping can expect the same while dining at restaurants inside Saks stores.

“Also, the #SaksCraves series shows that Saks restaurants can be destinations in and of themselves – meaning, you don’t have to be shopping at Saks to dine there – and that Saks is becoming a dining and culinary destination in and of itself.”

Ms. Kirk is not affiliated with Saks, but agreed to comment as an industry expert.

Saks Fifth Avenue was unable to comment directly before press deadline.

Rooftop recipes
Saks’ series began in late June on its POV blog. Tied into the Fourth of July, the first post shares holiday food inspiration from the retailer’s resident executive chef Alex Reyes.

Mr. Reyes goes above and beyond the typical burgers or hotdogs, instead serving up a grilled lobster and branzino. Alongside photos of the chef at work and the completed meal, the post includes his insights as to why his flavor pairings work.

Saks POV crave
Screenshot of SaksPOV blog

In the first video for #SaksCraves, shared July 10, the retailer showed Mr. Reyes and his sous chef Tom Drake grilling a feast on a New York rooftop. They whip up a bleu cheese burger, lamb chops and more, teasing upcoming segments.

About a week later, the chefs returned to make a chicken saltimbocca with arugula and a lemon vinaigrette. Included as a call-to-action for readers, Saks tells them, “This Delicious Meal Could Be Yours in Well Under 30 Minutes – Now Enjoy!”

SaksCraves chicken saltimbocca
Screenshot of SaksPOV blog

The post also references Saks’ Café SFA and Sophie’s restaurant, where Mr. Reyes creates all of the recipes.

In Saks’ most recent #SaksCraves episode, Mr. Reyes took inspiration from perfumer Diptyque and home decor brand L’Objet for a floral and citrus-infused meal. A short video sets a scene for the “delectable” dining experience, using text overlaid on the footage to walk consumers quickly through the steps involved in making dishes such as golden beets and citrus and lemon verbena poached peaches.

“By providing their customer base with content of interest, even though it’s not directly related to their products, Saks is attempting to continue to strengthen their relationship with their audience by providing value,” said Brian Honigman, New York-based content marketing consultant and social media marketer.

“Consumers are easily annoyed by pure promotional messaging today, which is why content marketing is effective means of building trust and generating sales in the long-term since it’s a value based exchange of information,” he said.

Mr. Reyes has previously looked outside of traditional references for culinary inspiration.

Last year, Saks Fifth Avenue’s New York in-store restaurant Café SFA created a Fabergé-themed egg dish to tie into the department store chain’s Easter display by the jewelry brand.

Saks was the official retail partner of Fabergé’s The Big Egg Hunt in 2014, and its flagship store in New York was a featured destination for the scavenger hunt, with nine artist-designed eggs in-store. By creating a signature dish for this event, Café SFA is able to provide consumers with a well-rounded experience at Saks that blends fashion, art and cuisine (see story).

“This campaign should be well received by consumers,” Ms. Kirk said. “Chefs are the new rock stars, and consumers are more educated about and interested in their food and where it comes from than ever before.

“Food is not just fuel – it’s an experience,” she said. “Through this campaign, hopefully shoppers and diners alike will start to view Saks as more than just high-end retail, and start to see it as a unique culinary experience – and the Saks brand as a complete lifestyle destination.”

Food in fashion
While department stores typically center their efforts on fashion and lifestyle brands, some marketing campaigns work to boost the profile of their in-store eateries.

For instance, New York’s Bergdorf Goodman asked consumers to show off their culinary skills to promote its branded cookbook.

Along with recipes from “fashion friends” such as creative director of Marie Claire magazine, Nina Garcia, and beauty magnate Bobbi Brown, the retailer has included its own dishes from its in-store restaurant into the Bergdorf Goodman Cookbook. By incorporating its connection to the fashion industry as well as highlighting its own culinary offerings, Bergdorf is able to continue the in-store experience within the consumer’s home (see story).

Elsewhere, London department store Harrods worked to establish itself as a one-stop destination for consumers by increasing foot traffic to its 28 in-store eateries.

Harrods used its social media accounts to show top dishes to its foodie followers and general community so that consumers grasp the diversity of the department store’s restaurants. Since Harrods is so well-known for its exclusive, high-end apparel and accessories, showing off its culinary side may have motivated consumers to spend more time at the store (see story).

This culinary approach enables stores to connect with consumers beyond the product.

“Saks knows their audience well, i.e. their audience is far more likely to enjoy fancy culinary experiences, which is why they are offering easy to consume tutorials on how to cook spectacular looking meals,” Mr. Honigman said. “They aren’t trying to become the next Bon Appetit, but instead, better connect with their audience without pushing a promotion or their own products too frequently.”

Final Take
Sarah Jones, staff reporter on Luxury Daily, New York