“Five years from now, people will say, ‘Remember when we had to wander malls and find our own things? That’s crazy!’”
That’s the behavior change that Eric Colson, the Chief Algorithms Officer at Stitch Fix, is betting on.
It may sound like a drastic change, but in today’s digital world, drastic change is the new normal. Small, smart, and disruptive brands with fewer resources and nothing but a powerful and inspiring idea are, almost overnight, transforming our behaviors in ways like never before. We’ve seen it with the likes of Airbnb and Dollar Shave Club. We’ve seen it with Casper and Betterment.
And now we’re seeing it with Stitch Fix, the online personalized styling service that is reinventing the fashion shopping experience.
Let’s go back to Colson’s prediction. The timeline he provided was five years.
Five years ago, Stitch Fix was hardly more than just an idea in founder Katrina Lake’s head – combine innovative technology with the personal touch of seasoned style experts to change the way people find clothes.
During those five years, she received funding but not much. With less than $50 million raised in the company’s history, she was able to grow the company at an unprecedented rate, raking in nearly a billion dollars in revenue at the end of 2017 – creating what has been dubbed the most cash-efficient e-commerce company of the decade.
Five years was all it took for Katrina to turn that inspiring idea into a billion-dollar company.
OK, OK … maybe it was six years (Stitch Fix was founded in February of 2011), but you get the point!
So, how did she do it? What is Stitch Fix’s secret sauce?
Like so many other disruptors, they thought differently. They did differently.
In an era where technology is all the rage, brands everywhere are competing in a race toward lower costs and convenience in nearly every industry. Stitch Fix took a different route.
Since its inception, Stitch Fix has always been focused on the consumer, understanding that the technology itself is less important than the customer experience of the consumer through the technology. That’s not to say Stitch Fix isn’t a tech-led company, because it most certainly is, but that technology is harnessed and focused toward a different goal: personalization.
Behavior-Changing Data Science
Here’s how it works: Consumers fill out a survey, or a “style profile,” indicating their style preferences. Questions range from size, price point, and preferred colors to how often a consumer dresses for certain occasions. On average, each client provides 85 meaningful data points. Clients are even encouraged to link their Pinterest boards to their profiles. Clients then schedule a date to receive their “fix,” which can either be a monthly subscription or a la carte, an important distinction that makes Stitch Fix different from competitors.
That information is then run through a list of algorithms, which you can tour on Stitch Fix’s website here. The data then matches the customer with a human stylist, who, with the information provided, creates his or her “fix” of five items and then sends the box directly to the customer.
Once received, the customer has three days to either keep the items or return them. If the customer keeps an item, an additional styling fee of $20 is given to the stylist. If the customer decides to keep all five items, he or she receives 25 percent off the total cost of the items.
This strategic use of data is what makes Stitch Fix so unique. Merging fashion with technology, Katrina can leverage that data to make the business much more efficient. She can forecast purchasing behavior and merchandize optimization. On the consumer side, the data is used to create complex algorithms that help match customers with styles and stylists they love, and Stitch Fix has even begun experimenting with designing new styles specifically for consumers.
Stitch Fix employs over 80 data scientists with doctorates from a variety of disciplines, including astrophysics and computational neuroscience. That team is led by, you guessed it, Eric Colson. If there’s anyone who knows how to change behaviors, it’s Colson. Prior to joining Stitch Fix, Colson was the VP of data science and engineering at Netflix, where he fueled the company’s recommendation and targeting engine, helping us discover our new favorite shows and forever altering the way entertainment companies operate.
In a digital landscape that has already forced traditional brick-and-mortar retailers out of business, Stitch Fix sits in an enviable position, with an unmatched wealth of data on the changing behaviors of consumers. Stitch Fix knows what consumers like and what they don’t like, and each sale or return makes the company smarter. It’s a business model that thrives off engagement. The more feedback a consumer provides, the better suited the “fix” will be.
Stitch Fix is capturing the future. It is changing the way people shop, offering a more personalized, curated, and delightful experience and making the try-on room a thing of the past.
What you wear is an extension of your own personal brand, and consumers more than ever are going to market for guidance and help in shaping that brand. Stitch Fix delivers the type of clothing you didn’t even know you needed. It stays up on the trends for you. It takes the hours of browsing or reading up on fashion tips out of the equation and delivers it all to you in a personalized way that no other e-commerce outfit can compete with.
But it’s not all algorithms and numbers. It’s the Stitch Fix stylists that build trust and loyalty with the consumers. They take time to get to know their consumers on a personal level, leaving handwritten notes and creating the type of emotional connection that makes an otherwise digital experience feel human.
In a letter to investors, Lake said, “I founded Stitch Fix to take on a very human problem: How do I find clothes that I love? Spending a day at the mall, or devoting hours of time sifting through millions of products online is time-consuming and overwhelming and neither effective nor enjoyable. I knew there had to be another way.”
Today, Stitch Fix is another way, but in five years from now, it may be the only way.
Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos, once said that “a great brand is a story that never stops unfolding.” And while Stitch Fix’s story is still very much being written, the first few chapters alone have already built a story worth telling. We can’t wait to see where it goes next.
That’s why Stitch Fix is our Inspiring Action Brand of the Month!
Let me start by saying, we here at DiMassimo Goldstein love a good bar crawl. Be it for a 21st birthday, bachelorette party or a fantasy football draft. A small group of friends hitting up one bar at a time in embarrassing matching T-shirts one person in the group all demanded they wear can be a lot of fun.
And then, there’s SantaCon, when thousands and thousands of overserved Santas, inebriated elves and freaky Frostys takeover the streets and bars of cities around the globe. Every year here in New York, there are articles about bars and businesses bracing for the impact of SantaCon, while neighborhoods fight over who has to host the thing, like relatives arguing over who has to take home an unwanted fruitcake. It’s annoying. It’s inconvenient. And most of all…is that cool for kids to see Santa and his friends acting that way?
At DiGo…we don’t think so.
We noticed that these drunken Santas mostly seem to be of a certain age that is both a.) far from their belief in Santa Claus and b.) far from the stage in life where they would have a child of their own who believes in Santa. And because of this, they don’t realize that their “unique” portrayal of old St. Nick does not go unnoticed by young eyes.
That’s why we partnered with our friends and creative collaborators at Crew Cuts and made this ad to encourage people to #SitOutSantaCon.
We wanted to hear from the children themselves some of the horrors they have witnessed during SantaCon, in order to maybe encourage people who were planning on going to SantaCon to if not sit it out completely, at least please, think of the children.
In just under a week, the video amassed over 20,000 views (and counting). The social campaign received over 50,000 impressions and was picked up by ten different publications, including a write-up in Adweek and a televised feature on Pix11.
Our Facebook event received over one hundred RSVPs – that’s 144 small inspiring actions that together can make a big difference.
Thank you to all who supported the campaign and helped spread the word. We’re looking forward to continuing this mission next year, and with your help, we can end SantaCon in our lifetime.
We can help people change their decisions and habits in ways that empower and delight them.
We combine the findings of behavioral economics, mobile clinical interventions, persuasion design, direct marketing, CRM, and decades of A/B split testing and optimizations into an integrated practice of behavior change marketing.
This video of our Chief recapping his time at the Yale Behavioral Economics Intensive dives into the topic in greater detail:
Want to learn even more about Behavior Change Marketing? These articles are a great place to start:
If you and your team are trying to build an inspiring action brand, or know anyone else who may find this helpful, feel free to share this amongst them. If you want to join the conversation yourself, reach out to us on twitter, we’d love to hear from you.
On a very special edition of The A-List Podcast, host and DiMassimo Goldstein CCO Tom Christmann switches seats and becomes the interviewee. Lauren Slaff, founder, president, and director of podcast sponsor Adhouse Advertising School plays the role of host as the two longtime friends talk about conquering fears, the importance of leaving your ego at the door, creating a personal brand, and so much more. Full episode and show notes below!
[0:00 – 2:30] Into
[2:31 – 6:32] Growing up in New Jersey, and how his childhood love to draw and write stories was inspired by his father “Mongo”
[6:34 – 13:32] Tom talks about the benefit of going to college in Manhattan and the difficulty of getting a job in the recession
[13:33 – 20:11] Getting his first gig at Ogilvy direct, and how young creatives can promote themselves today
[20:12 – 22:39] Living on his own for the first time in Hoboken and rebuilding his portfolio after two years at Ogilvy
[22:40 –24:05] The transition from a big direct agency to working at Kirschenbaum
[24:06 – 31:38] Tom talks about the nerves he first had when meeting Richard Kirschenbaum, why he shaved his mullet, and growing up in the industry
[31:39 – 36:14] Working at the agency of the future, TBWA/Chiat Day
[36:15 – 41:40] Tom recalls his time working with people he long admired in Gerry Graf and Eric Silver at BBDO, and the speech that saved him from being fired.
[41:41 – 48:29] Creating a personal brand and entering into the Freelance world. The importance of personal toughness.
[48:30 – 50:57] Writing every day, the value of being yourself and getting people to start knowing you for your thinking.
[50:58 – 53:10] Networking. Getting over social anxiety and conquering fears
[53:11 – 56:36] Tom gives advice to young creatives and sheds light on an amazing industry
[56:37 – 57:32] Outro
“The A-List” is a podcast produced by DiMassimo Goldstein, recorded at the Gramercy Post, and sponsored by the Adhouse Advertising School, New York’s newest, smallest, and hippest ad school. You can subscribe and rate the show on iTunes or listen along on SoundCloud. For updates on upcoming episodes and guests, be sure to like the A-List Podcast on Facebook and follow host Tom Christmann on Twitter.
Today, even the largest corporation in the world is naked without a beloved brand, full of positive content.
Not so long ago, I received a call from a senior leader of a large corporation, and he was clearly in significant emotional distress.
This distress reflected the emotions of senior management and of the people in his organization.
This was one of several similar calls over the past couple of years.
All of these organizations had been world-beaters, with seeming strangleholds on their categories, at least, in their strongest regions or sectors.
At the times of these calls, each was being trashed in social media, destroyed in the press, and humiliated in the U.S. congress.
The reasons for their turnabouts varied. Suffice it to say that bad things were done, or the right things were left undone. The companies had fumbled, and the world had decided that they no longer deserved to exist.
Empathizing with my callers, I invariably told them some version of the following story:
“You may be aware that Warren Buffet said that his idea of a perfect business would be to own the only toll booth, on the only bridge, to an island.
Many large businesses share qualities of Buffet’s fantasy. While not being perfect monopolies, they have elements of a monopoly. Perhaps their bridges are not the only ones to the islands, but just the most convenient ones, for example.
People inside these companies say things like, “We have the size. We have the relationships. We have the supply. We have the data. We own the cables. We laid the pipes. We’re the only ones who have it… We don’t need to waste time or money building a brand. We don’t need to be loved – it’s enough to be rich!”
But here’s the thing about companies like that – people hate them.
They won’t say that in surveys nearly as much before, as after, the lapse, because the hatred is mostly unconscious, implicit, and waiting for a trigger to emerge.
But, make no mistake, people are waiting to get even. When you have power like that, people are waiting to set things straight.
Invariably, these brand owners who had called me had spent years trying to get their senior management to embrace brand strategy and brand-building processes. To a one, these senior managers had fought for efforts to make their brand experiences delightful, and to express noble purposes to the world and prove those purposes with inspiring on-strategy actions. And every one of them noted sadly that he or she had, more or less, lost those battles.
The companies had been fat and happy; but now, they were bleeding and miserable and mortally wounded… by what? By shame. By infamy. By the fury of a global mob empowered by social media, by the people who prosper by attracting their eyeballs, and by those whose pensions depend on their votes.
And… now they were very much interested in the brand, the purpose, the experience. Now they were interested in being delightful, customer-centric and socially valuable. Now, they needed a quest, and hoped that we might help them find their purposes, above and beyond commerce.
And yes, we can.
But, the time to have a purpose is before. The time to build a brand is before. The time to be delightful and meaningful and worthy of cheerful word-of-mouth and sharing, and 5-star reviews, and thousands of caps and t-shirts, and maybe even a few permanent tattoos, is before.
Because, even before social media and the monsoon of shaming, it was coming for them. Organizations with purposes, understanding the inspiring ideas that drove them, expressing them not just through communications, but through iconic actions, infusing exceptional experiences with the ideas, and generating waves and ripples of word-of-mouth – these organizations were coming to take away their clients and customers anyway. They just didn’t know it.
When selling is just selling, you are building a house of cards – today, more than ever.
When your inspiring idea is your best-selling idea, you’re not only selling more, you’re building something that can stand the test of time.
Every large corporation stumbles. No collection of people that large is without a few bad actors. But, some companies are protected by the powerful, positive feelings that people have for them. There are companies about which most people don’t want to hear anything bad. Their love for those companies, their belief in their goodness, and most of all, their identification with the heroic qualities they attribute to the companies, dramatically alter their behavior. This is why building the brand in this way is the ultimate behavior change marketing strategy for brand and business growth.
Some organizations planted those seeds from the beginning, from their startup phases; and that’s always best. Others found their inspiring ideas in the growth stage; and that works really well, too.
The important thing is to find it, live it, act it out, communicate it… before.
You’re naked in the icy winds of change without it.
We’re so proud to announce that Rebecca Weiser, our very own Director of Integrated Media and Analytics, has been named one of Gramercy Institute’s 2017-2018 “20 Rising Stars in Financial Marketing!”
We’ve known Rebecca to be a star since the day she joined DiGo as a Sr. Media Planner back in 2012. In the five years since, she’s proven that time and time again, growing through the ranks of the agency and continuing to be a true agent of the client.
Rebecca has played a vital role in inspiring action and growing the businesses of leading financial brands such as Ally Bank, TradeStation, Online Trading Academy, and Affinity Federal Credit Union through award-winning media strategies. In a constantly evolving media landscape, Rebecca considers all factors that could potentially impact media performance. She approaches each new business problem as an opportunity to provide creative, innovative, and thoughtful solutions. By looking at the story beyond the numbers, she brings unique insights to the table and offers actionabale analysis that has consistently driven growth for our clients.
Her leadership among the team provides clients with the ultimate confidence that their dollars will be spent efficiently and their trust in her has resulted in significant business growth year over year.
The most creative activity in many agencies is filling out time sheets.
For eighteen years, we have never done one. Here’s why:
1) We don’t want to reinforce the silly idea that what we sell is time. We sell results.
We take that seriously and stick to it. Our compensation agreements align with it as well, accepting risk and reward for creating marketplace results.
2) We don’t want the moral or legal hazard of a practice that is almost universally abused. A process that at best is a waste of the very time it purports to record and at worst is a fraud. Sometimes accountants are creative people, but creative people are rarely accountants.
3) We want to spend all of our time and energy on the stuff we’re good at, the things that return the most value for our client’s dollar. We always strive to deliver much more value than we capture in revenue. And our agreements, often with lower fees and bonus for market success, bear this out.
4) No one benefits from a culture of nickel and diming over time. Not clients, who will feel hesitant to use the team to the fullest extent for fear of additional changes. Not agency people, who come to value their contribution in billable hours rather than in winning work. We never charge more for “going over” hours. Because we don’t measure hours, we measure value.