American Eagle Outfitters last year launched a new line of intimate apparel and sleepware, dubbed “aerie,” for teens and 20-somethings. Accompanying the launch were online videos designed to engage shoppers with their peers.
Many in e-commerce view the use of online video technology as a way to enliven site design and better inform customers. Some pioneering retailers, however, are taking a different tack, zeroing in on key customers and entertaining and involving them to keep them coming back for more entertainment, and merchandise.
American Eagle Outfitters Inc. last year launched a new line of intimate apparel and sleepware, dubbed “aerie,” for teens and 20-somethings. Accompanying the launch were online videos designed to engage shoppers with their peers. AE.com’s video section, “aerie Tuesdays on CW,” adds to an already graphic-rich, interactive site. The aerie line is sponsoring Tuesday night showings of the Gilmore Girls and Veronica Mars on the CW television network. AE.com displays clips of the TV shows and the merchant’s sponsoring commercials.
The retailer then has a group of the shows’ teen girl fans, decked out in aerie clothing, discussing the latest developments on the shows as well as AE apparel, worn by some characters on the programs. AE.com then makes extensive use of Flash technology to provide interactive mouse-over navigation to reveal product details and displays of outfits on characters shown in the clips and commercials-a merchandising tactic aimed at young online buyers who like to coordinate outfits but don’t always take the time to navigate throughout a site to find them, says Kathy Savitt, who leads digital strategy and AE.com as chief marketing officer. American Eagle is No. 111 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide.
Young customers want content; they’re going to MySpace and YouTube for entertainment and socializing, Savitt says. “But TV advertising alone can be tough, especially with more people using DVRs to remove commercials. But we know that TV is still an important part of our customers’ lives. So we did the aerie on Tuesdays campaign,” she says. “The CW network leveraged our marketing platform where our customer is a core demographic for them; and we created discovery and awareness for them throughout our stores with signage and products. Then we got from them the ability to bring together viewers from the demographic in unscripted chat sessions where they discuss the show plotlines and such. The girls are wearing our clothes, and the clips run in 30-second spots coming out of parts of the show but before commercials.”
American Eagle still is measuring the impact of its campaign, but to date it finds it to be a major traffic driver to AE.com as well as a driver of conversions, though it will not release specific numbers. “We want to be a destination for both shopping and content to strengthen our brand relationship with our customers,” Savitt adds. “The video inspires them by seeing others’ fashion choices throughout the country, and seeing our products in a context that is compelling to them.”