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Claire’s attempts to get back to cool and drive sales through YouTube

As accessories retailer Claire’s continues to revamp its marketing strategy under new leadership, a clear focus on leveraging social media is emerging, as evidenced by a recent campaign featuring YouTube stars.

According to a  report in the Roanoke Times, the goals of Claire’s new CEO are to appeal to a younger demographic, a group whose behavior and interests have drastically shifted in the digital age. The retailer has rolled out its latest back-to-school campaign featuring YouTube celebrities airing on the video app to better appeal to the new generation, regain its cool image and see positive sales.

“Having grown up with unprecedented digital access to celebrities and brands, Gen Z has a different expectation of the relationships they can have with both,” said Melanie Shreffler, senior editorial director at Deep Focus. “They expect a more meaningful, immediate, and intimate connection, much like they have with their real-life friends.

“Social media has only fueled this, with brand posting behind-the-scenes details and Hollywood celebrities sharing no-makeup selfies, they seem more relatable,” she said. “It is critical for brands today to be straight-forward, open, and honest to reach young consumers.

“In the past brands focused on crafting an exclusive, elite image to be desired, think Abercrombie, but today, brands must be inclusive and be real to be relevant to Gen Z shoppers.”

Loosing popularity 
The retailer has last some of its cool factor with its target demographic, resulting in a drop in sales. Since a new CEO took over in the spring of 2014,  the focus has been on revamping the brand’s image and get back to being relevant in the eyes of tweens, according to the article.

Using social networks is essential in reaching the young demographic. Back-to-school is one of the most important quarters for a retailer, and Claire’s is pulling out all the social media stops to make it a positive one.

Claire’s partnered with AwesomenessTV in an attempt to make the campaign more successful. DreamWorks Animation and Hearst Corporation’s AwesomenessTV is a network on YouTube that focuses on engaging the millennial and younger demographics.

The network is substantially knowledgeable in terms of engaging the younger viewers. The partnership gives Claire a higher advantage in appealing these consumers.

YouTube stars and celebrities of AwesomenessTV Teala Dunn and Alli Simpson will be the faces of Claire’s back-to-school campaign. Videos on the network’s YouTube channel will feature the girls wearing Claire’s apparel and accessories.

Currently print ads for the campaign have been released featuring the girls in various locations throughout a school. Numerous videos featuring the girls sporting Claire’s merchandise will roll out on YouTube in the upcoming months.

The girls’ own YouTube channels have significant followings, with Ms. Simpson’s page reaching more than 509,000 subscribers and Teala’s with almost 860,000 followers.

The retailer’s focus has shifted from stale and outdated marketing techniques to update social media and digital tactics to climb back up the social ladder. Change can already be noticed on Claire’s social media channels, featuring posts related to trending topics and even its merchandise reflects it.

For instance, Claire’s Facebook shared an image of an upcoming product that features the viral sensation of a costumed Shark in Katy Perry’s performance in the Super Bowl as a smartphone case. Also, the retailer curated a post listing all merchandise featuring the popular emoji sensation.

Millennial advertising
In a similar campaign, Kohl’s junior apparel brand Candie’s created a sensation through social media after announcing a partnership with singing group Fifth Harmony, and took the viral commotion to retail by driving sales through social channels (see more).

Also, Old Navy’s summer campaign puts a new spin on emojis with a mobile-optimized site that predicts shoppers’ perfect pair of flip-flops based on their icon use (see more).

“YouTube and social media sites are to the teenage girl today what the mall was in the 80s,” said Mary Van De Walle, vice president of planning at Upshot. “It is the place to see and be seen, where they hangout together, shop and, as Claire’s has figured out, seek out the latest fashion trends.

“By engaging in these channels, Claire’s acts like the cool older sister they go to for fashion advice and style inspiration,” she said. “Leveraging the stars just adds a level of credibility, critical when connecting to a teen who wants to develop a personal, yet socially on-trend, style.

“The Claire’s target is in a bit of a beauty and fashion frenzy. It may be the first time they’re making real choices about their personal style, while overwhelming at times, this is an incredibly fun time of exploration and discovery. If Claire’s focuses on doing what they do best, being that fun, approachable, on-trend sister, they can hook the teens through their style curation, vibrant posts and expert advice and know-how.”

Final take
Brielle Jaekel is editorial assistant at Mobile Commerce Daily