How Keds Is Transforming in a Digital World

Content Manager

Keds, a popular sneaker brand that has been around since 1916, has seen many changes over the years, but probably none have been as big a shift as its adoption of a digital approach, one of its executives told attendees of eTail East in Boston.

“For us (digital transformation) is about the ecosystem the consumer lives in, every single channel or exchange she has with us,” said Emily Culp, Chief Marketing Officer for Keds. “Winning with her is pivoting the way we go to market.”

Being Mobile First

Culp said the Keds customer eats, sleeps and breathes the mobile world, so all of its content development is mobile first.  In fact, 56% of total traffic comes from mobile and the Keds brand mission is to exponentially grow, embrace and convert on the mobile device.

“That’s a huge pivot in an organization to start with that goal,” said Culp. “We’re creating a new organizational structure so that we’re really agile and  able to have the speed to market that we need to engage with her.”

Culp said  the Keds brand is still building and expanding its retail footprint especially in Asia Pacific and Latin America, where it continues to add stores. In the U.S. the company has wholesale partners.

Culp said doesn’t necessarily have to be the largest portion of the business, but it just might be the first and only experience a consumer  has with the brand both here and abroad.

“It’s the purest expression of your brand and it’s an opportunity for us to merchandise the product the way we want to,” said Culp. “To me, that is how I see the [channels] but bricks-and-mortar retail is alive and kicking and expanding. It’s all about creating options for how engage with your brand.”

Culp said Keds tries to bring the essence of its physical presence to the virtual world,  bridging the two through tactics like videos that feature close-ups of shoe materials.

Breaking Down Friction in the Channels

When a consumer goes through the purchase funnel, Culp said, it’s all about using various forms of content to tell the essence of your story and convey key information as succinctly as possible.

“A one to two-minute video on your phone is an eternity,” she said. “When you think about that, you’re trying to get products, benefits and some brand story shoved into a three-second video and it’s really challenging so it puts a lot of pressure on you, but in a good way.”

Harnessing the advocacy of customers makes ratings and reviews really important, Culp said. In social media, she said, consumers can see Keds’ products in real life and how others are wearing them.

Mobile payments, with one-click ordering, are becoming a fast, simple option for Keds customers.

“Right now, alternate payments and aggregate [payments] comprise about 30% of our ecommerce business, so it’s a really big deal for us. As we continue to expand as a global company, alternate payment in some markets is our only option.”

The Right Oscillation Between Push and Pull Marketing

Culp said the most important element in being customer centric is honoring where she’s spending most of her time. For example, Keds has created an experience specifically for the Home Shopping Network, a channel where many of its customers are already shopping.

“We are all about delivering value and interesting opportunities for her and it doesn’t just have to be on our site,” said Culp. “I think that’s also an evolution in brand marketing. The idea many years ago was to drive traffic to your own .com. But to me it’s about the oscillation (between push and pull marketing) and what is right for [consumers].”


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