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Aug 17, 2020

CFDA: JustFab CMO Daria Burke On Keeping Your Customer Engaged

Burke shares how the brand has approached customer engagement, diversity, equity and inclusivity 

by Sacha Brown | Aug 17th, 2020

Chief Marketing Officer of JustFab Daria Burke is responsible for global brand awareness and positioning, overseeing all marketing functions across channels and geographies. As part of her role, Burke leads and develops JustFab’s customer acquisition strategy and drives global membership growth and revenue for the brand. Burke shares how the brand has approached customer engagement, diversity, equity and inclusivity over the past few months.

As the CMO of a membership-based fashion brand, how are you engaging with your customer during these uncertain times?

We consistently approach our engagement strategy with the intention of being our customer’s ‘chic, relatable best friend.’ During these extraordinary times especially, this means that we are always looking at what our customer needs from us and what we can do to connect with them on a more meaningful level. Of course, as a fashion brand, one of our primary aims is to inspire their fashion choices during an unprecedented time.

When COVID-19 became a reality we went straight to the source – our customers. We conducted a poll on Instagram, asking our followers what they wanted to see from us. The responses were insightful and pretty surprising! We heard that our customer wasn’t looking for us to depart from our norm in a major way. They wanted us to continue providing authentic, meaningful content with fashion guidance and offerings along the way.

We have made appropriate pivots where needed, however. In addition to our expected traditional seasonal trend stories, we focus on telling fashion stories that are relevant to our customers’ lives right now. When we launched our Spring Shop which featured flowy dresses and heeled sandals, we also quickly launched a Lounge Shop featuring cozy essentials such as knit sweaters, slip on sneakers, and slides. We understand that some of our customers want to shop for traditional seasonal styles as they normally would, while others want to shop completely different merchandise because they are spending the majority of their time at home. I have personally been so inspired by how many women want to look and feel just as fabulous at home as they would in a more active time.

How has this massive shift in consumer behavior changed the messaging in your marketing and communication?

As a digitally native business with expertise in performance marketing, we felt prepared and well-positioned to leverage our existing marketing channels and strategy.

Our membership model allows us to bring quality fashion to style-conscious customers at an affordable price point – which is what so many women are seeking right now. People are understandably being thoughtful about where they make discretionary purchases, and we are proud to be able to communicate that we are a brand that can offer great products she will love at an accessible price point.

We are conscious that our customer may spend differently this year, and we are grateful that she has continued to consider us when she wants a little indulgence. As such, we will continue to leverage our marketing and communication channels to highlight our brand and our business model as it serves the needs of so many women now as much as it did before.

Has the pandemic offered new opportunities to build engagement?

Absolutely. People are looking for connection, inspiration and, above all, a genuine relationship with the brands they are engaging. I’m excited to share that we are launching a new series titled Leading With Style this week where we partner with and feature culture-changing women we admire – hearing about their leadership and life journeys and favorite fashion moments, and sharing it all on our social channels! These are moments that allow our members, broader audience and customers to engage with us, ask questions, and not only shape our brand and our offerings – but also receive gratification in a more meaningful way from the interaction.

What marketing tactics/tools should brands be investing in for customer retention and acquisition? 

It’s so simple but the most powerful tactic any brand can employ to foster loyalty and retain customers is to listen to them. Give them platforms to provide you with meaningful feedback and then be vigilant in incorporating as much as you can.. There are very few changes that we make without customer feedback or data. Before COVID-19, we held regular “Meet the VIP” events where our members were invited to meet members of the JustFab Design, Merchandising, and Marketing teams, see product before we made our buys and give us feedback to help shape the assortment available to her. We spend a significant amount of time speaking with, surveying and conducting user testing with members in order to effectively prioritize and implement important new changes to ensure they have the best possible experience with us.

Success in acquisition marketing requires a healthy appetite to test and learn. Explore platforms, processes, and get creative with new ways to reach your customer. Don’t be afraid to wade into uncharted waters to see what works, and if it doesn’t work – learn and pivot. Make better mistakes in the next test. Because we design with the end in mind, we can be agile along the way.

What are your members most interested in at the moment when it comes to product and content?

Our customer is really gravitating towards styles that are relevant for today’s world – given that many are still sheltering in place: sneakers, denim, easy dresses. That said, many are making more hopeful purchases and are enjoying the mere act of getting a bit more dressed up, even if it’s just to walk the dog or have a virtual catch-up with friends.

Our content strategy has followed suit to a meaningful extent; it reflects life today, but always with a perspective of grace, beauty and optimism. In fact, our May and June “editorial” shoots were captured with a photographer and model pair that were under quarantine together. No hair and makeup team, not much additional lighting, none of the typical elements of a highly-produced photo shoot. And it was beautiful and resonated deeply with our members. That’s the magic of having an incredible in-house Creative team to concept, style and virtually produce. This, combined with creating content with our amazing family of influencers, has allowed us to tell stories through imagery and videos that are genuine and organic with just a hint of fabulousness and fantasy.

How are you ensuring that your engagement strategy is inclusive and diverse?

This is so deeply important to me personally, and to our brand. One of our core beliefs is that fashion should exist for, and be available to, more than a few people. So our strategy starts with having a wide range of sizes – from 5.5 to size 12 in footwear and up to 3x in clothing – and fits, offering options for women seeking wide width and our wide calf sizing. This breadth also allows us to partner with women of all sizes and body types to showcase the product.

That leads me to the second critical area of focus for us. Our advertisements and imagery feature women of all races, sizes, ethnicities and background. We will see so much more of this as we continue to share the evolving visual identity for JustFab. But it goes beyond model casting. I am adamant that the hair stylists and makeup artists not only have expertise in working with different skin tones and hair textures, but that they are also of diverse backgrounds. Our customer base is incredibly diverse – in geography, age, ethnic background, body type and lifestyle. It matters that all women can see themselves represented in our brand.

JustFab was also very early to work with a wide variety of influencers, from what is considered “nano” – influencers with under 10,000 followers – to celebrities with millions of followers. We have been very dedicated to working with a diverse collection of influencers, and using their content for our ads when possible. Our influencer presence is how people view the brand, and how they connect to it – so we’ve made it a focus to work with women that are inclusive, diverse and make their followers, and our customers, feel connected to both us and them.

What are some ways you think the fashion industry can advance opportunities for women of color in the fashion space?

This is so simple: promote and hire more diverse talent. Make the conscious choice to ensure interview slates and panels are diverse. Check your bias. And partner with organizations that are doing the work, like the newly launched Black in Fashion Council whose mission is to increase representation of Black people in fashion and beauty. At JustFab, we are always looking for opportunities to connect with schools, career and leadership programs and talent incubators to ensure that we are always diversifying our talent pool and network at all levels, not just entry level roles best suited for new college grads.

How do you differentiate your offerings from other membership or subscription-based fashion models?  competitors?

JustFab has a unique membership model that allows for complete customization in how our 2.1M VIPs utilize their membership. She can skip the month, she can allow her card to be charged that month and bank those credits to spend on a future purchase, or she can skip and still shop at any time. We also allow our VIPs to use their credits on nearly any item on the JustFab website – so it is a personal experience. This has been really important for us and is a huge differentiator of our brand versus other membership models that might send a box of items selected for you or don’t allow you to skip or pause – especially during COVID-19. If there was ever a time to give your customer choice and flexibility, this would be it.