Spiegel Takes Fashion Forward
As a result, says Payner, “We became less relevant to our customers. We were in kind of this disconnect phase with our customers.”
The turnaround team set out to try to reduce the time it took to implement new styles in the various catalogs. In addition, the company learned it had two main issues to tackle: product quality and improving audience perception through its advertising presentations.
Explains Payner, “We set out to improve our quality in order to then reduce returns. And then our next goal was to have that quality and our renewed sense of style represented in our advertising and promotion.”
Survey Says: Listen to Customers
But before Spiegel could refresh its marketing and advertising strategies, it needed to discern first-hand what consumers thought of the Spiegel brand. So, last fall Spiegel Catalog started a major consumer research project.
“It was a somewhat painful exercise to go through, because we wanted to know the good and the bad,” says Payner.
By surveying a portion of the 3.3 million customers on its housefile, Spiegel could better understand who its primary customer is today. In a nutshell, says Payner, “She is a 43-year-old working woman who loves to shop.” In addition, she notes, “Our customers shop at every level. People who shop through Spiegel are just as likely to shop at Target as they are at Neiman Marcus. And I think that’s a general trend in shopping today.”
Not only did Spiegel gain a lot of valuable customer information through the research process, but, “We learned that brand is very important. Customers love our Big Book for all it has to offer, but they told us we didn’t have a differentiated style point of view, and we had to be more relevant to her life,” Payner says.
Once it had all of this new insight, the Spiegel team needed to come up with a plan of action for itself. However, the time for a brand makeover just then wasn’t great: When Payner took the top spot in late 2000, the catalog industry was beginning to feel the pinch of the economic downturn, and Spiegel was no exception.