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Ippolita Names CMO, Sets E-commerce Shift

Ashley Bryan’s appointment is part of the jewelry company’s marketing-focused push.

NEW YORK — Ippolita has named Ashley Bryan chief marketing officer, effective April 28.

This story first appeared in the April 7, 2014 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Bryan has served as cmo at Moda Operandi since November 2011, and previously was head of U.S. marketing and sales at Net-a-porter. “I am really [pleased] to work with the team focused around product design, and see it from the creation all the way to the consumer,” Bryan said of her new role.

Bryan’s appointment is part of the jewelry company’s marketing-focused push. “She’s incredibly strong digitally and incredibly strong in p.r., and those are two of the most important levers we have right now in order to raise the awareness of the brand,” said chief executive officer Joe Cavalcante. “The profile of the brand and the awareness is not completely aligned with how much business we’re actually doing. We’re such a product-focused company that we’ve had our nose to the grindstone developing and making product, and have been too slow, quite frankly, to really work on the brand and the brand story.”

E-commerce will be a strong focus for the label moving forward. Online sales account for less than 5 percent of overall sales; Cavalcante eventually hopes to hit 8 to 10 percent. “[E-commerce] is our best opportunity to reach the customer and tell the customer about us,” he said. “We are very highly underpenetrated in our e-commerce business currently. It’s a really low-hanging fruit for us.”

With Bryan on board, Cavalcante also hopes to better understand the brand’s customer base and eventually expand beyond the established demographic. “We’re a little challenged in that arena because we are primarily a wholesaler,” he said. “We have fantastic relations with Neiman Marcus, Saks, etc., but we don’t own those customers. Those are their customers, so we don’t know as much about our customers as we really should. One of [Bryan’s] primary responsibilities right out the gate is going to be to really dive into whom our customer is and learning about her. That will help us formulate business strategy going forward.”

Cavalcante describes the core Ippolita customer as 45 to 50 years old, a resident of the Upper East Side and “a very stylish woman, but more on the conservative side.” To target a younger customer, the brand has entered a new business category: charms. Priced from $195 to $2,995, Cavalcante hopes the new line will target a younger, “more downtown and bohemian” customer. “There are many charm lines out there, but none of our competition does a fantastic job,” said Cavalcante. “It’s also white space for us in terms of customer process. We’re doing a decent job of serving our core customer, and not doing a good enough job of reaching out to additional customer profiles. We think that charms can do that for us.”