Marketing Genius from Maple Creative


Marketing tips, observations & philosophy, plus a few rants and random musings - from those who practice, preach and teach marketing, research, advertising, public relations and business strategy.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Pier One: A Case Study in Misguided Marketing

Michele Miller, publisher of the WonderBranding blog, recently posted an excellent analysis of Pier One's marketing.

1. Stop with the celebrity spokespeople. Until Joe Regalbuto came along and broke the celebrity barrier with DirecTV, you couldn't catch an actor hawking anything -- now it's commonplace. Sure, the first ad or two with Kirstie Alley might have been cute, but they quickly became annoying. Being cute and creative in advertising might win you awards, but if it ain't selling the goods, it ain't worth the celluloid it's filmed on. Thom Filicia from Queer Eye? A little more credible but not worth it.

2. Start focusing on your products and their resonance with your customer's lifestyle rather than going "creative." See Number 1.

3. Take care of your current customers. I have been shopping at Pier 1 since the early days, when they sold those cool Eastern Indian gauze blouses and funky beaded stationery boxes. I still shop there regularly, and have yet to receive any kind of mailing (either postal or email) giving me a "heads up" on special sales, preferred buyer discounts, etc. Today, Pier 1 has monster competition in the form of Crate and Barrel and Pottery Barn, which are doing an awesome job of building customer evangelists -- without television advertising. Pier 1 would do itself a favor by rolling some of that ad money into a customer appreciation campaign.

4. Find a campaign and stick with it. Whatever you come up with, make sure it speaks to the customer about what matters to the customer, in the language of the customer. This is one of the most challenging ways to build market share... it's a long-term investment and requires marketing professionals who have strong sea legs.

Pier 1 has a great store. Hopefully, they'll get back on track before the competition sinks their ship.

Michele's analysis falls right in line with the process we use at Maple Creative, called the Brand Charter Process. Her commentary speaks to the Pier One Brand Essence, as well as its Brand Promotion. Its advertising message fails to communicate anything about the unique selling proposition (USP) that Pier One brings to the customer. In short, Pier One has lost the focus on its primary audience core--women shoppers ... plus it has violated the cardinal rule of consistency.

Great analysis, Michele! I agree completely.


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