April 9, 2013, 4:41 PM

No runs here: Bloggers build buzz for Duane Reade hosiery

A six-week campaign helps spark a 28% sales boost for the chain.

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Sometimes the messenger matters.

When executives from Doris Hosiery Mills, which makes Duane Reade’s hosiery line, approached the New York-based drugstore chain about increasing consumer awareness of the line a few months before the start of the last holiday season, the retailer took a different tack than its typical approach.

Sure, Calvin Peters, public relations and digital communications manager at Duane Reade, and his colleagues turned to some of their most effective cross-channel marketing strategies. They developed a campaign called “Show Us Some Leg” that featured in-store displays and robust online ad and social media efforts, complete with a Twitter party in which more 100 women talked about holiday fashion trends (including when and where to wear Duane Reade leg wear). But Peters also worked with marketing firm Collective Bias to find about two dozen bloggers who regularly write about fashion for large followings in the New York area where the Walgreen Co.-owned chain operates 253 stores.  

Collective Bias paid the bloggers an undisclosed amount (similar vendors pay a few thousand dollars per campaign, say experts) to go to a Duane Reade store, buy Duane Reade-branded hosiery, wear it and write about it.

While the focus of the blog posts didn’t have to be on Duane Reade, Collective Bias asked the bloggers to mention the brand. The bloggers not only posted on their blogs, but also shared the content on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social networks. In total, nearly 1,950 pieces of content—ranging from a blog post to a tweet—were produced during the six-week blogger campaign, Peters says.

That type of content is valuable, says Zach Reiss-Davis, a Forrester Research Inc. analyst. Consumers trust their peers, colleagues and even influential bloggers to give them good information, he says.

The campaign helped sales of Duane Reade hosiery increase 28% during those six weeks. While it is impossible to single out the bloggers’ influence compared with other initiatives, Peters believed that the bloggers played a large role in sparking conversations about the brand. Using a listening platform, which combs social media and the web for mentions of brands and products, the retailer compared how many times Duane Reade was mentioned when consumers were discussing hosiery or leg wear online in the six weeks prior to the blogger campaign to the period during the campaign. It found the number of times Duane Reade was mentioned in connection to hosiery increased 89% that the previous period. Even more importantly, by the end the campaign Duane Reade was the most-mentioned brand when consumers were discussing hosiery or leg wear.  

Read more about how retailers are working with social influencers in the May issue of Internet Retailer. Click here to sign up for a free subscription.

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