Member Exclusive   //   April 17, 2024

Why Kendra Scott’s CMO doesn’t believe in siloed performance marketing

Michelle Peterson, CMO at Kendra Scott, hates the idea of a division between brand and performance marketing.

“Who in my team is doing marketing that isn’t performance-driven?” she asked.

It’s an important distinction she makes in all of her decisions. When she joined the jewelry company in 2022, there were two distinct teams. “I was like, no, because then what is everyone else doing?” Peterson said. “I don’t love that characterization.”

Peterson spoke this week at the Modern Retail Commerce Summit in New Orleans. During her session, she discussed the brand’s approach to marketing — which emphasizes making connections with its shoppers over conversion.

The team she oversees covers marketing, creative, PR, customer care as well as the company’s e-commerce channel. That’s a lot of different departments, but they have one common goal: “We’re all brand builders focused on the experience,” Peterson said.

This focus has helped Kendra Scott retain customers as it grows. According to Axios, the brand brought in around $500 million in revenue last year. And Peterson said that 70% of its sales “comes from our loyal consumers.”

Peterson’s marketing thesis comes down to figuring out Kendra Scott’s target customer for each product and each marketing channel. “We start with our specific consumer and how we’re going to connect with her,” she said. “Every conversation is: who is the consumer, what is her name, what is the insight and how are we going to connect with her, before we then move on to our marketing model.”

Take Mother’s Day, for example. With the annual gift-giving holiday coming up, Kendra Scott held a brainstorming session with its entire marketing team to figure out exactly who the brand was trying to target. The team named her ‘Sentimental Susan.’

The big insight, Peterson said, was that mothers on Mother’s Day “kind of want a break from being a mom.” But, the company theorized, “moms really want to be around other moms — part of that community that supports her and gives her empathy.”

So, Kendra Scott built an entire campaign that invited mothers into its stores, set up photo booths and had them take pictures.

From there, the company developed a media plan involving social, email and even billboards featuring these pictures of mothers. “Eventually this thing scales from this very specific connection,” Peterson said.

Sentimental Susan isn’t the only hypothetical shopper Kendra Scott is keeping tabs on. Instagram, for example, with its highly millennial user base, is focused on a woman the team calls ‘Expressive Ellie.’

“We have a core consumer that we think about for each channel,” Peterson said.

At the root of it is the idea all the content needs to speak to Kendra Scott shoppers — and paid media can’t look and sound different from other posts. With that, every paid campaign starts from the social team. A person working on the organic side may say a certain post is resonating with shoppers — “then we build on it and scale it from there.”

All of this isn’t to say that Peterson doesn’t believe in performance marketing. Indeed, it’s the opposite — “we track traffic every day,” she said.

Instead, by having all the marketing teams work together, Peterson believes campaigns can have more life and be considered more authentic.

“We very much start with how we’re going to have a relationship [as well as] the connection with our consumer,” she said.