CMO, Tory Burch, Talks International Expansion, F-Commerce & More

Miki Berardelli

Tory Burch believes in social media. So does her Chief Marketing Officer, Miki Berardelli. Burch has a vision for social media which shows through nearly every digital touch point of the luxury fashion brand; one that has grown at seemingly exponential rates since its founding in 2004. With brick and mortar stores all over the world and more locations popping up like prairie dogs, the digital channels at Tory Burch have to follow suit. Under the direction of Berardelli and her fab marketing team, they are undoubtedly doing so.

Introductions like the new “Client Book,” which will bring iPads into the hands of Tory Burch store associates, exemplify the company’s belief that the future of luxury retail will be determined by technology and a brand’s willingness to accept and embrace it. Tory Burch’s social media efforts span from Twitter to Facebook to Tumblr and more, all of which are constantly and continuously updated with fresh, engaging content.

Berardelli spoke at the Luxury Interactive conference Tuesday, where she revealed some of her brand’s secrets (not too many!) for success, and shared some challenges and lessons learned in Tory Burch’s journey toward digital and social awesomeness. And yes, its social strategy is nothing short of awesome – they even have a “social matrix,” which she couldn’t talk too much about but trust us that it meets the awesome quotient. Read a few of the questions we asked her after her presentation below for the TB inside scoop.

You mentioned Tory Burch is a believer in F-Commerce. Can you say why, and how you plan to pave the way, since many retailers still have their doubts?

We’ve had great success with our Facebook Shop that launched in the fall of 2011. We know that our Facebook audience skews younger than our core customer, so we see this as a gateway into our brand as the younger consumer is more likely to purchase from brands that their friends like or recommend.

Apart from engagement, is there any specific metric you use to measure the success of your social media efforts?

We do look at ROI as well as engagement. The investment we make is mostly in the people that we have on our team that support our social media efforts.

We also watch metrics like our Klout score and how we are ranked by the experts. We were very happy to be ranked third in the recent L2 Digital IQ Index for Fashion, and one of only seven brands in their “genius” category.

Can you tell the story of the Japan relief effort t-shirt? How did that initial design come to be, and how did it get translated into a t-shirt and then become a moneymaker for the relief effort?

The beauty of social media is that you can react in the moment. In this case, we expressed our shared grief by posting an image that was created by one of the graphic designers on our team. When one of our followers suggested that we create a t-shirt in this design and then another follower added that we should donate the proceeds to the relief effort, Tory agreed. So we quickly put the t-shirt into production and sold it through our stores, and through a flash sale event with RueLaLa. We raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the Japanese Red Cross.

Tory’s vision has always been to build an accessible luxury brand with a sense of social responsibility. Giving back and helping others is very important to her. This is just one example of that.

What about social media from an advertising perspective? How does the brand feel about things like Facebook ads, sponsored Tweets, etc.?

We have tested Facebook ads, but only those that tap into the social media sensibility, letting friends know that someone they know likes Tory Burch, for example. We have not done sponsored Tweets as Twitter is Tory’s direct connection to the customer.

Can you tell us what you have learned about international expansion in luxury retail? What is important to remember when taking your brand into other countries where the culture is decidedly different in many ways?

As we move into new global markets we’ve learned that it’s important to stay true to the Tory Burch brand while understanding the uniqueness of the local region and showing our respect for the customers there. For example, in China, we have a dedicated Weibo page (that is their version of Twitter) and we balance the publishing of content created in our New York office along with things that are relevant to the location, like Chinese celebrities wearing Tory Burch product or Tory visiting the country. We also celebrate Chinese New Year with limited edition shopping bags and other elements. In Brazil, we will launch a white capsule collection in December because locals often wear white on New Year’s Eve, and we want to celebrate along with our Brazilian customers.