Lands’ End CMO on branding during a time of transformation

For established retailers with strong brands, it’s not always easy to stay true to the company’s history while implementing marketing strategies that attract new customers.

Lands’ End Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Becky Gebhardt has been with the company in varying stages since 1991 and has a strong understanding of the brand, giving her the ability to bring fresh ideas to the table while still incorporating Lands’ End’s heritage and values.

In advance of her session at Retail’s Digital Summit, we spoke with Gebhardt about balancing this sense of tradition with new initiatives intended to drive the company’s growth.

Lands’ End EVP and Chief Marketing Officer Becky Gebhardt will speak at Retail’s Digital Summit, Sept. 26-28 in Dallas. 
 

Lands’ End EVP and Chief Marketing Officer Becky Gebhardt will speak at Retail’s Digital Summit, Sept. 26-28 in Dallas. 

 

You’ve recently been named CMO of Lands’ End. What are your priorities as you take this position during a time of transformation for the company?

At Lands’ End, we have always made it a mission to look to the future while honoring our rich heritage. As a long-term employee of Lands’ End, I am honored to be a part of this exciting time as we build upon our rich heritage and explore new projects and initiatives to grow to be a meaningful global lifestyle brand.

I am focusing our creative and marketing efforts to continue to stay true to our loyal, long-term customers while introducing new customers to our brand in innovative and creative ways through enhanced storytelling and elevated, engaging content.

As you set out to transform an iconic brand into a global lifestyle brand, what does that strategy look like?

We developed a strategic marketing plan to communicate our message and to build brand awareness through great imagery and product and brand storytelling in 2016. Our plan included highly visible print and digital advertising campaigns presented across all channels in catalogs, advertising, social media, PR, retail and online.

Looking forward, we plan to invest in branding initiatives that we hope will yield benefits over the longer-term.

Our catalog and online and digital strategies remain our key areas of focus, but we will also enhance our product offering to elevate our image while remaining true to our brand.

Additionally, we have focused on marketing to a new, younger customer base. Canvas by Lands’ End is a great example of how we can expand our reach and invite a new customer to experience the Lands’ End brand, while remaining true to our core DNA of quality, value and customer service.

How do you balance the task of evolving the brand to attract new customers while not alienating your long-time loyal fans or losing your core identity?

As our CEO Federica Marchionni has said in the past, maintaining our strong focus on our current long-time customer remains a top priority. At the same time, we feel there is an opportunity to introduce the brand to a new customer who appreciates quality and style at a great value. Customer acquisition is the bread and butter of both the retail industry and growing our company. 

Quick Takes

The future of retail is … Immediacy! Shopping anywhere, anytime, on demand. It’s about compelling and interactive retail experiences that provide immediate, easy results for every consumer need.  

The last thing I bought online was … my kids’ backpacks, clothes and school supplies.  

I’m happiest when I … can roll up my sleeves and work with a team of people to come up with successful solutions and new ideas that make a difference.

In my office, I can’t live without … my team!

My first job was … catching butterflies — I was a research assistant studying the migration of the monarch butterfly.   

If I wasn’t doing this, I would be … editor of my own magazine.

My favorite Lands’ End product is … the Lands’ End Canvas tote; I own over 50.  

I’m inspired by … the changing world around me. I am a creative soul and visually love to see and feel the energy around new concepts and innovations. 

From a marketing perspective, what do you see as some of the most exciting opportunities for the brand during the coming year?

We were very excited to recently announce actress Emma Roberts as the new face of the Canvas by Lands’ End fall campaign. Roberts is the perfect embodiment of the young, modern customer we are looking to appeal to with our new Canvas by Lands’ End line.

We also recently introduced a new line, Lands’ End Sport, a line of activewear that includes surf, performance and athleisure collections for both men and women, with technical, fully functional pieces to go from land to sea, high-performance to athleisure.    

To enhance our retail strategy, we opened a pop-up shop location in Southampton (N.Y.) for the month of August and will continue to explore potential pop-up opportunities.   

Under our CEO, we have embarked on several meaningful initiatives that our customers can relate to, and they have told us they identify strongly with companies that give back, including Lands’ Friendly, the Pink Thread Campaign and a partnership with the United States Lighthouse Society

The retail landscape has changed so dramatically, just within the last five years. To you, what’s the most fascinating development happening in retail right now?

The evolution of the consumer purchasing mindset and the ability for a retailer adapt to those new expectations. Consumers are using social influences digitally, devouring product reviews and looking for quick and easy ways to get the merchandise they want. Consumers are making informed, smart and fast decisions through a more diverse portfolio of channels and quickly adopting new purchasing habits to meet the needs of their busy lifestyles. We as a retailer are continuously challenged to not only keep up, but stay a step ahead.

Image at top: Actress Emma Roberts photographed by Mario Testino for Canvas by Lands’ End.