March 13, 2003, 12:00 AM

A brand that spans three centuries launches a new web site

Founded in 1887, upscale men’s apparel maker Hart Schaffner Marx reaches out to a younger audience by beefing up its online presence.

Old-line classic men’s apparel manufacturer Hart Schaffner Marx--founded in 1887--has re-launched its web site as it reaches out to a younger audience. Though not e-commerce enabled, the site provides stylish product images, expanded content on topics such as what defines quality in a suit, an interactive feature in which a stylist answers men’s wardrobe questions, and a store locator to direct shoppers to the brand’s nearest retail partner.

“We wanted to make sure people know why this brand has been successful for so long. It’s a quality product worth every penny, and we wanted the look and feel of the site to reflect that while making it contemporary,” says Stephen Thompson, creative director of Agency.com, an interactive marketing and technology company that worked with Hart Schaffner Marx on strategy and design for the new site.

Up for about a week, the site replaces an earlier effort launched in 2000 but little updated until the company scaled it back to a store locator page last August as it began development of the new site. To help drive shoppers to the site, the URL was featured in a concurrent print campaign in the Wall Street Journal. The company also is driving traffic with search engine optimization by iTraffic, the advertising arm of Agency.com. Those efforts include paid keywords on Google, Overture, LookSmart and other search engines.

Though the company has until now done no e-mail marketing on behalf of the brand, it’s taking customer registrations online to receive e-mail updates. That list will provide the platform for future online and cross-channel marketing efforts. One example, now under review, is e-mail alerts to customers in nearby zip codes when a Hart Scaffner Marx retail partner is having a store event.

Hart Schaffner Marx sells its products through a variety of upscale retail partners such as Nordstrom. With no dedicated retail channel of its own and at present no ability to directly track the site’s impact on sales, the company’s most important metric for the site is the number of visitors who go on to use the store locator feature. Even prior to the site relaunch, that number was about 20%, high relative to other categories, according to Agency.com, and the company will be closely tracking changes in that number post-relaunch.

“We want to provide content that’s a value add so people will bookmark the site and start using it as a resource," says Thompson. “We want to build an affinity with the brand so that when a person is looking for a suit and walks into a retailer, they will ask for Hart Schaffner Marx.”

 

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