CMO Series: Meet Leland, VP of Marketing at Jonathan Adler on Acquiring and Engaging Customers

November 02, 2015

What’s top of mind for Leland?
Building Customer Loyalty

Meet Leland Kass - the tech-savvy marketing pro behind one of the world’s most beloved luxury lifestyle brands, Jonathan Adler. Almost two decades since he sold his first piece of pottery in Barney’s Department Store, Jonathan Adler has become the poster child for the contemporary American lifestyle. With 30 retail stores and over 1,000 points of distribution around the world, Jonathan Adler is universally known for Modern American Glamour and flawless design from furniture and lighting to pillows and pottery.
Like many luxury lifestyle retailers, Jonathan Adler has a very specific clientele and it can be challenging to target this specialized group in order to keep them coming back to your store. Leland believes that traditional marketing tactics no longer suffice. In a world of dwindling attention spans and endless options, brands like Jonathan Adler have to be more sophisticated in how they acquire and obtain customers, understanding their behaviors down to the most finite detail.

Start with Getting to Know Your Customers

To tackle this challenge, the marketing team at Jonathan Adler has evolved beyond simple targeted marketing campaigns to a truly personalized strategy. In this three-part blog post, we’ll dive into how the company has re-focused their marketing strategy in order to build loyalty with their customers.

“Brand loyalty is a difficult nut to crack, especially in the luxury market. There are so many options out there and there are so many competitors. Customer attention spans are getting shorter and shorter, so the luxury landscape overall is getting a bit muted.”

Here are some of the questions we asked Leland:


Who are your customers and how do you engage with them?

Our customers really fall into five buckets. One is the multi-homeowner, those who come into the store (or online) and in one fell-swoop outfit their entire first or even second home with our product. Another is the design community, the interior designers with a large reach of clients. A third is the higher income young family with one or both parents working and typically a young child. We also have a strong gay and lesbian fan base. Our fifth group is younger, in college or just out, who love the brand and love Jonathan. Jonathan has an incredibly dynamic personality - he connects with a wide audience. We’ve been able to identify that this fifth group in particular starts entry price point items in college and then grows to make bigger purchases as they progress through life.

To engage with these groups we have a variety of strategic tactics. We keep the conversation alive across a variety of platforms from email and direct mail to social and press. Our regular touchpoint across all groups is email and we send typically 3-4 emails per week. This year we increased our direct mail significantly. We are doing three major catalogs, and two, maybe three, smaller mailers. We’ve found that direct mail is a successful tool for cultivating customers and a catalog filled with stylized photography is important given the price point and breadth of our products. We have strong and engaged following on social from our younger demographic, so posting daily on Instagram, updating our pins on Pinterest, etc. is critical. Social is a vibrant, interactive forum to talk to those particular customers.

Customized outreach continues to be a focus for us, and as we gather more information on our customers, the more personal our campaigns will be. We rely very heavily on our stores, as well, to do personalized clienteling. Acquisition is one part of our strategy. Catalogs are hugely important to driving growth in our database, but so are grassroots efforts like events and outreach to neighboring businesses for co-branded events to share customers.

Retention is another part of our strategy. We've implemented a life cycle campaigns. We’re identifying customers who haven't shopped and at key points in the life cycle, we're giving them targeted offers. The goal is to prevent them from going more than a year without shopping. Clienteling complements our life cycle campaigns as well. Once we’ve identified the customer who's about to lapse, we can tap the associate who worked with them on their last big purchase to reach out to them, inviting them in for a gift, etc. We're really trying to address retention from a broad communication standpoint, and then from a one-to-one connection.


What are some of the biggest challenges you are facing as a retailer as it relates to customer loyalty?

Three things: obtaining customer information,understanding purchase frequency and retention, and lastly, acquisition.

The first challenge is hardly unique to us, but it’s increasingly difficult today to get customers to share their contact information. We have all these incredible customers transacting, but when you see that your top customer in a store "walk-in-client" in your CRM tool, there’s nothing I can do with that as a marketer. Even further, it’s even more challenging to get a customer to give us both their mailing and their email addresses. And as a customer shopping in a store, I understand both sides of the struggle. But, that information is worth its weight in gold to companies like Jonathan Adler who want to personalize marketing campaigns for every customer.

As our business migrates to more large high-ticket items, another challenge is understanding the frequency with which we should expect a customer to shop and how to drive their second purchase. We're in the midst of learning about customer behavior and pinpointing the proper timeframe to drive that second purchase. Retention remains a big focus for me, and a huge opportunity.

We also face a challenge in acquiring new clients. It's all about growing our base. More, more, more. Again, this is not especially unique to us. We've put a lot of effort into implementing grassroots, store-based initiatives as well as corporate initiatives to drive new people into our stores, grow our brand awareness, and gain new customers.


 What initiatives are top of mind for you in response to those challenges?

To address our collection of information challenge, we recently held an all-store manager summit, where for the first time, we spent significant time training store managers on the appropriate and effective way to ask a customer for information. This included everything from the types of questions to ask, how you can follow-up if you don’t get all their information, tips on how engage in a meaningful customer dialogue, and how to identify which customers are more willing to share their email address vs. their mailing address.

For acquisition, we are constantly engaging in partnerships with other brands to secure more customer leads that make sense for our brand. We are also really focused on our grassroots events program at the store level. Let’s use Dallas as an example. Let’s say there's a charity in Dallas that's important to one of our top customers. Our goal would be to do an event with that charity in hopes that that top customer would bring in all of her friends whom we can acquire as customers. It's an intimate setting. It's a great way to display our product, and it also has a feel-good charitable component. Our stores are making friends with their nearby businesses, involving themselves in the community. We know that the business is in the neighborhood, and connecting at this level is key for bringing in new names.


Are you seeing growth online and/or in mobile?

Absolutely. We recently replatformed our site which now offers more tools, more imagery, and more rich content on our products and craft. Plus, we're mobile-optimized. All of this helps close a sale online.

Our site has grown tremendously in the past few years and we're seeing increasing engagement on mobile.

Now that we have this burgeoning, beautiful website, we are taking advantage of prospecting to people all over the country. Previously, we had only sent catalogs within a 15-mile radius of a store. For the first time ever, we are prospecting to trade areas where we don't have a store - there's a wide audience out there waiting to become brand fans and loyal customers!