Kohl’s has announced a slew of holiday events taking place mostly online. Its centerpiece is an AI-driven “Kohl’s Storybook Magic,” where customers can type in a gift recipient's name and personal passions to generate a poem filled with related references and gift recommendations.
The retailer is jumping into interactive social media with “Kohl’s or Coal” AR Lenses. In a press release, Kohl’s said the lenses, which are featured on Snapchat, TikTok and Meta, use platform randomization technology, which “emulates AI experiences in providing Kohl's gift recommendations for the whole family.”
“When using the lens, users are walked through pairing gifts with their loved ones and ultimately deciding whether they will receive a Kohl's gift or Coal,” the retailer said.
It’s a clever way to appeal to younger customers, and get people talking about Kohl’s, according to Barbara Kahn, professor of marketing at The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
“Using a customer to send a message to another customer is the essence of viral marketing,” she said by email.
Influencers have once again been drafted to provide customers with inspiration via storefronts on Kohl’s website. And from Monday until Dec. 8, Kohl’s will host livestreams to provide guidance on Black Friday sales (the livestream for Monday); “super deals” (Nov. 24); the most wished-for toys (Dec. 1); holiday glam looks with the #sephorasquad (Dec. 5); and the best stocking stuffers (Dec. 8).
On Friday, the department store took its holiday storybook theme offline, hosting a one-day pop-up in Bryant Park in New York City. The event featured an interactive snow globe that generated participants’ stories and gift recommendations in real time. The first 1,000 also received a $5 Kohl's Cash coupon.
The retailer could use a win this season. In its most recent quarter, store comps were down 5% year over year, and profits plunged 60%. Cost-cutting helped the company remain in the black for the period. Kohl’s has expanded its three-year partnership with beauty retailer Sephora, in time for what is likely to again be strong sales in the category. Last year, between October and December, prestige beauty brought in $9.3 billion, and Kohl’s previously said that beauty sales there rose 90% in the 2022 holiday quarter.
Kohl’s reports its Q3 results on Tuesday.