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Kohl’s taps trendy social media content to drive handbag sales

Kohl’s is ramping up sales for a new handbag collection by leveraging social influencers and handing out free samples in New York, encouraging women to show off their personal take on accessorizing with the bags.

The retailer tapped into the influence of popular Instagram and Twitter users for a street-style ad campaign that showed off the bags through a trendy brand image. To start off the campaign, Kohl’s gave away handbags from the collection to women at Grand Central Station in New York, in the hopes they would share their excitement on social media.

“Social media influencers have been reported to have a significant amplification effect on a retailer’s marketing and sales efforts,” said Michael Becker, managing partner of mCordis. “In 2015 Schlesinger Associates indicated that 93 percent of marketing and communication professionals found influencers to very effective to effective on improving brand awareness, 75 percent found them to increase lead generation, and 76 percent found them to increase customer loyalty.

“The insight behind this is that influencers are closer to the customer, they extend the brand’s reach and their content tends to be imbued with a high-level of trust,” he said.

Influence of social media
As aversion to traditional advertising runs rampant, non-advertising techniques are key tools for marketers to connect with consumers. Kohl’s current campaign drive sales by tapping into influencers whose content act as a recommendation to followers, when they are likely already looking for style inspiration.

Five social media influencers are taking to their prospective channels to share various products from Kohl’s new handbag line, made in collaboration with fashion designer Reed Krakoff. Various bags from the Reed collection at Kohl’s are appearing on social media with the hashtag #MustREEDxKohls, from professional bloggers such as Eva Amurri Martino.

Ms. Martino tweeted out to her followers, “today I will be at Grand Central Terminal celebrating the new Reed Krakoff Collection with @kohls!” The post included a photograph of her modeling the new bag, along with the hashtag from the campaign, as well as #ad to disclose that she had been paid for the sponsored content.

The social influencers also appeared at Grand Central, where Kohl’s gave away various products from the collection to passersby. The retailer encouraged the women to share photos and posts regarding their new bags with the campaign hashtag to drum up awareness.

Each post on social media focuses on the individual style of each influencer. For instance, one social media partner, @reedxkohls, showed off how she incorporated the bag into her spring wear while at the farmers market.

The photograph featured flowers near the bag and was styled with bright-colored and floral apparel.

Brands and social
In a similar push on social media, Starwood Hotels & Resorts’ Tribute Portfolio brand partnered with shopping platform, enabling travelers to browse social influencers’ curated content on Instagram, tap a photo and receive a link via email to book a stay at a featured property (see more).

Midwestern discount retailer Gordmans Stores was also among the brands leveraging an engagement marketing platform that enables marketers to rank users in their community based on their influence and activity on social media, mobile and email, resulting in more successful targeting efforts (see more).

“There are many best practices to consider with developing a social influencer program,” Mr. Becker said. “First, when selecting your influencers, it is a good idea to identify a mix of influences across a variety of social media channels relevant for reaching your audience; do not always focus on the big names either, concentrate on those that have a consistent following.

“Once you start your program, encourage your influencers to tailor their approach to each platform being used in the program,” he said. “Once the program is up and running, you should follow the adage of ‘trust, but verify.’

“You should integrate relevant analytics and measurement within your program, including directing the use of campaign hashtags. This will help you understand the impact the influencers are having and give you the opportunity to make course adjustments as need. However, you should be careful to not to over direct the influencers; you want your influencers to maintain their unique style, to be personable.”