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Tommy Bahama turns to Acxiom for first loyalty efforts

Luxury retailer Tommy Bahama has tapped Acxiom Corporation to help lead its first foray into loyalty and database marketing.

Acxiom is providing direct marketing services, data hygiene, segmentation and analytics to the brand, which has bricks and mortar and online retail operations as well as wholesale and restaurants. The retailer’s online sales efforts and multichannel database are about a year old, and it had never attempted direct or loyalty marketing before choosing Acxiom in a multiple company RFP.

“Tommy Bahama was looking for a better understanding of who its customers are, how that’s changing and how they can develop a communications strategy with them,” explained Daniel Nasharr, an Acxiom sales executive.

“Direct marketing is relatively new to Tommy Bahama, so everything we’ve done this year has been foundational, creating a baseline understanding,” said Heather Hall, a lead consultant in Axciom’s retail arm. “We dug down and identified those people most likely to shop during certain times and then tried to understand drivers of loyalty and interaction.”

Following a September test run, which offered gift cards to a segment of shoppers, the company sent out a holiday-themed loyalty mailer in mid-November.

“The goal for this loyalty mailer is two-fold,” said Doug Wood, president and COO of Tommy Bahama. “It was to help us comb through our database to come up with a subset of our customer base, one we wanted to reward. Secondly, it was to find shoppers who were most likely to use this program in the holiday time frame. We gave Acxiom our database, and they went through and found a subset of 225,000 consumers that they identified as the people that would benefit from and use the program.”

Tommy Bahama’s holiday mailer includes a 14-page “lookbook” and a $50 gift card. The promotion runs through January 10 and is targeted to the brand’s base of middle-aged, high-income shoppers. Although Tommy Bahama traditionally caters to male shoppers, its women’s line is its fastest growing business segment, so the lookbook features a mix of men’s and women’s clothing.

The company wants to follow-up this initial loyalty effort with some sort of points program in 2009, Wood said. He also wants to continue offering unexpected rewards, such as gift cards, free drinks and other gifts. Mail and e-mail will both play a role in customer communications.

The goal of the holiday mailer is to drive incremental purchases, which have increased in these first two weeks of the promotion.

“We knew the holiday would be difficult because we’re trying to drive purchases in a time frame when people are shopping for bargains, and you don’t really find bargains at Tommy Bahama,” Wood admitted. “So if this could give us incremental traffic in retail, we would look at this as a huge success.”

The October 2007 launch of Tommy Bahama’s e-commerce site met with immediate success, which drove the company to focus on building its database through e-mail newsletters and in-person retail.

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