In recent years, the growing trend in the world of advertising has been to incorporate real-life families and individuals into brand campaigns, partly linked to the rise of social media and its powerful influencers.
But Rack Room Shoes has been around for a while.
It all started in 2004 with the creation of its “Models Wanted” competition, which selected a client to play the main role in marketing and advertising. By 2016, this had morphed into The Real People Project, a content-driven campaign aimed at celebrating the unique lives of Rack Room shoppers through storytelling.
Once families were selected via online submissions, Rack Room sent a production team to each winner’s hometown to capture their stories, which were shared with the retailer’s online communities through a collection of images and of videos. Winners also received a personalized prize package.
Molly Hartney, director of marketing at Rack Room, noted that The Real People Project has been suspended since the start of the pandemic due to security concerns, but will finally resume this month in conjunction with the retailer’s 100th anniversary celebration.
And, she says, it remains a fundamental part of the brand’s mantra: “Real people, real shoes.” “It lets us let our customers know that we’re true to our core values and that real people are buying our shoes,” Hartney said.
In keeping with this ethos, she pointed out that Rack Room isn’t overdone with brand ambassadors and influencers trying to push the latest trends and styles. “You probably won’t see a celebrity walking through the ranks of Rack Room Shoes because that’s not our target market,” Hartney said. “We want to be true, fair and equitable in the way we market, and that’s why we rely on real people.”
To reach its customers, Rack Room’s most powerful means of communication are its loyalty program, launched in 2013, and electronic messages.
Hartney noted that email has been a particularly effective tool for generating in-store revenue. “There has been a change in the way they shop with us. While there may have been more digital transition during the pandemic, we can definitely see that the traffic we get from our email is now direct to stores,” she said. “So much so that the last time I pulled numbers back to school, 94% of our revenue from email right now is in stores.”
In contrast, the company said the majority of its digital sales come from other channels such as shopping, paid search and affiliates.
To help bolster these digital efforts, Rack Room worked with digital marketing agency Tinuiti to build brand awareness and help it launch into new channels.
The retailer launched a TikTok account on August 16, where it is testing strategies for speaking to another audience. “We believe we can reach a subset of our customers who currently leverage this platform because Facebook or Instagram is not where they choose to be inspired,” Hartney said.
In a webinar hosted by FN and Rack Room in June, Chelsey Codrington, Tinuiti’s senior director of customer strategy, said TikTok was an area of opportunity for the family-owned retailer, but was particularly optimistic about advertising. OTT (over-the-top) on online video platforms.
“In 2022, over 80% of people are actually cord cutters, and people are streaming three times more than they are watching live TV today, which is huge,” she said. . “As marketers, we were doing our best to get our spots on TV, and it was really expensive. Now we see increased efficiency with OTT and online video platforms, where we know our impressions are actually more valuable. »