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Michael Crotty oversees marketing for Neiman Marcus stores, catalogs and NeimanMarcus.com. Here he discusses how Neiman Marcus delivers a superior customer experience across all its channels.
eMarketer: What is the average annual household income and age of Neiman Marcus customers?
Michael Crotty: The median household income is roughly $125,000 a year. Obviously, we have customers who love fashion and love Neiman’s who make less and those who make more. We’re much more focused around a lifestyle and an interest in fashion than we are around demographics. Our customers, predominantly female, are all ages but the average is between 45 and 50.
eMarketer: Do you see any difference in the demographic profile of your store customer vs. your website customer?
Crotty: In the markets where we have stores, there’s a lot of overlap. Our customer likes to shop both channels depending on what they're looking for and how much time they have. In markets where we don't have stores, the customer doesn't look that much different. In general though, like a lot of other etailers, the online customer's a little younger—not dramatically, but younger.
eMarketer: How do your customers like to shop across your various channels—stores, website and catalog?
Crotty: We know that a high percentage of our customers will do research on the website before they come in the store. It's not atypical for a customer to go online and learn a lot about the current trends and new accessories.
Our customer loves fashion and sees the website as a resource. Even if they don't intend to make a purchase, they will do a lot of research on the site, then come to the store with a point of view. I’d say 70% of our customers will spend time on the website before they even come in the store. We still have a thriving catalog business, and it’s been around longer than the website. It co-exists with our stores and website.
eMarketer: What sorts of things are you doing with social media?
Crotty: Our “Passion For Fashion Challenge” on NeimanMarcus.com involves social media and led up to Fashion’s Night Out on September 10. We asked our customers what they wore, how they put looks and trends together, and enabled them to share a portfolio of looks with everyone online. Participants wrote a description as to why they chose certain items. It's just one of the ways that we've experimented with user-generated content and tapping into customers’ passion.
We’ve moved a bit cautiously in social media, but we’re learning as we go. For this year’s Challenge, we had nearly 2,400 entries, 16,000 reviews, 42,000 votes and more than 680,000 engagements with the content. The winners were promoted on our Facebook page.
eMarketer: What role does social media play in your marketing efforts?
Crotty: It’s a great communications tool and way to share with the community about all the things we have going on in our stores and on the website. We see social media as more of a communications and relationship-building tool, rather than a marketing tool per se. We haven't used Twitter yet because we need to think through it more strategically. We will probably launch on Twitter before the end of the year.
eMarketer: Do you have plans to offer some type of flash sale?
Crotty: We're open to ideas. We've been doing a similar kind of thing to flash sales on the website with a program called Midday Dash. A couple of times a week for a certain period a group of items will be significantly marked down. It could be from one designer or it could be a category of merchandise from a range of designers. We've been doing Midday Dashes for about a year and it's been very successful. We've experimented with different times of day and different days.
eMarketer: How does the Midday Dash work?
Crotty: An email alerting customers goes out in the morning if the sale is on from noon to 2:00 p.m. The email tells customers about the featured items. The nice thing is that it drives a lot of traffic to the site.
eMarketer: Are there other things you do to build customer loyalty with your online customers?
Crotty: We are offering video of live, in-store events, offering designer profiles and other content online. We have video of Donna Karan speaking in our Michigan Avenue store and a fashion presentation. So we're playing around with a lot of things. We haven’t syndicated this content out on the web but we’ll probably start pushing it out to places like YouTube. For now, it’s just on NeimanMarcus.com.
eMarketer: What is your mobile shopping offering and how are customers using it?
Crotty:We just launched our mobile commerce site on August 16 and it allows customers to shop from any mobile device. Previously, consumers could only access a limited selection of items through some devices. The new mobile site offers the complete selection—everything that’s available on our site.
Over the last year, we’ve noticed that traffic coming from mobile devices has grown and we want to be accessible to customers through a wide variety of channels and access points. We’re starting to promote the mobile offering now through email to our customer base, we’ll do some mobile paid advertising and promote it on the site. We also have a “Fashion Anywhere” sweepstakes offer. After any purchase through the mobile commerce site through September 30, customers will be automatically entered to win first-class tickets for two to any destination and a $10,000 American Express gift card.
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