Johnnie-O CEO: Personalized D2C Messaging Drives Customer Retention

Johnnie-O CEO: Personalized Messaging Drives Customer LTV

As direct-to-consumer (D2C) brands look to drive long-term loyalty in the crowded, highly competitive category, johnnie-O is seeing personalized communications keep shoppers engaged over the long term.

In an interview with PYMNTS, John Collins, the brand’s CEO, discussed the risk that D2C brands face when they do not segment their messaging.

“We really want to make sure that we’re making the journey a consistent one for our longer-term customers,” Collins said. “Not sending the same messaging to them over and over again but making sure that we keep compelling content in front of our customers as they grow with the brand.”

Effective communication can be key to maintaining consumers’ loyalty over the long term. Take, for instance, the D2C subscription space, where PYMNTS Intelligence research revealed that the top way brands alienate their loyalists (the top 30% of retail subscribers who generate 79% of total revenue across the retail subscription space) is with excessive promotional materials.

Plus, consumers demand personalized messaging. The PYMNTS Intelligence report “Personalized Offers Are Powerful — but Too Often Off-Base,” which drew on responses from more than 2,500 U.S. consumers, found that 71% had received personalized offers and were interested in them and an additional 12% had not received personalized offers but were interested.

While the brand aims to drive long-term value, it also is looking to reach new customers. Earlier this month, the company announced its first capsule collection for women, sold exclusively via digital D2C platforms and the company’s own-brand stores. Recognizing that about 40% of johnnie-O’s customer base comprises women, the brand seized the opportunity to cater to this sizable demographic, Collins explained.

“The women’s business, as you know, is a bit more complex than the men’s business, so we want to make sure that we had our best foot forward when we came out with the line,” Collins said.

The 2022 PYMNTS Intelligence study “ConnectedEconomy™ Monthly Report: The Gender Divide Edition” found that women transact online 34% less than men, on average. This means that the average number of women who carry out various digital transactions online is less than that of their male counterparts. The average male consumer participated in 14.3 transactional activities online in October 2022, for example, while the average female consumer engaged in 11.5 activities online.

As digital platforms become central to retail strategies, Collins emphasized johnnie-O’s transition toward a digital-first approach. Using influencers, the brand aims to foster meaningful connections with customers, recreating the peer-to-peer recommendation experience.

Social media recommendations can go a long way toward driving discovery. PYMNTS Intelligence found that 43% of shoppers browse social media to find goods and services.

As the company looks to grow its digital penetration, it is exploring artificial intelligence to parse consumer data on the back end, but Collins said consumer-facing AI can create more friction than it removes.

“I think a lot of early AI engagements have been frustrating for customers because, like a bad phone tree, they never seem to be able to get their answers,” he said.

Consumers have hesitations around AI. The “Consumer Interest in Artificial Intelligence” edition of the PYMNTS Intelligence “Consumer Inflation Sentiment” series of reports drew from a survey of more than 2,300 U.S. consumers. It found that 35% of consumers are not at all interested in having AI involved in their shopping routines. Plus, another 21% were only slightly interested.

Looking ahead, Collins contended that brands that keep a close eye on these kinds of consumer sentiments around different technologies will have the advantage.

“I think the most important thing on the digital space right now is that it moves quickly,” he explained, “and brands that are paying attention to that and focusing on what the customers need or where some of those potential bottlenecks may be [will better be able to] stay ahead of the game.”

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