2014 has been a banner year so far for shoemaker Stuart Weitzman. The luxury shoe brand is a top choice for a dizzying array of starlets who love Weitzman’s combination of style and comfort – such as Beyoncé who has claimed to have danced a thousand miles in hers, and Kate Middleton who sported a pair of Stuart Weitzman wedges when the Royal Couple visited Australia – and the brand made a big splash with the launch of SWxYOU.
SWxYOU is a series of limited edition shoes that allow customers to customize their shoes by choosing their own colors and hardware. Of course, Stuart Weitzman, the man behind the brand, has always been an innovator, ever since he took over his father’s shoe business and famously started using materials like lucite and wallpaper.
The brand has also been making news with its successful expansion. In 2013, Stuart Weitzman opened Zaha Hadid-designed flagship store in Milan, and 2014 openings include Hong Kong and Rome. All told, the brand operates forty-four retail stores across the United States, sixty-two international stores, fourteen international shop-in-shops, and e-commerce sites in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Hong Kong, making its footwear and accessories available in more than seventy countries.
Much of Stuart Weitzman’s recent expansion was fueled by careful data collection and savvy use of social media. The company uses offline data, such as in-store sales reports, in combination with online performance data, to gauge international audience preferences. It then uses those insights to drive promoted posts on Facebook in countries where it is about to open new stores. For example, when Stuart Weitzman opened its new store in Mexico City, the brand saw 5,073 post “likes” and 46,128 clicks. It has since used similar campaigns to promote store openings in United Arab Emirates, Taiwan, and Korea.
The Way I See It
- I see a revival of bespoke clothing and shoes. From Stuart Weitzman’s SWxYOU initiative, to suit and shirt makers like Indochine and Blank Label, brands are catering to customers by offering unique and individualized merchandise they can make their own via online templates.
- I see social media remaining a key aspect of a brand’s marketing and advertising. Brands will continue to push out content via social media platforms – such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Pinterest – as a mode of connecting with their customer base. After all, many of us rely on social media to obtain the latest trends, news, etc., and brands have taken notice.
- I see store opening events as not something of the past, but as a key player for brands. For all the handwringing about the demise of brick-and-mortar retailing, store openings can still be major events for brands that know how to play them right. As Stuart Weitzman has demonstrated, smart social media promotion can drive foot traffic as well as virtual clicks.
The Way the Industry Sees It
I sat down with Wayne Kulkin, Chief Executive Officer at Stuart Weitzman, to discuss social media and world retail domination.