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Bill Brand and Ryan Ross Talk HSN Inc. Strategy

HSN knows it’s consumer — and she is not a Millennial.

HSN knows it’s consumer — and she is not a Millennial.

“We have a crystal-clear view of who it is we are talking to at HSN. Obviously knowing your customer and future customer is key, and we’re staying as focused as possible on that,” said Bill Brand, HSN Inc. chief marketing and business development officer. “It’s women 35 to 54, and we’re maniacally focused on talking to and serving her. We are not distracted by Millennials.”

Ryan Ross, HSN senior vice president, digital commerce, added that it’s paramount for the company to harness technology to deliver a frictionless experience to users. HSN does this in several ways, including using data to create meaning and value; being where the customer is and where she wants to see HSN (on her computer, phone, social media channels, etc.); personalizing the consumer’s experience, and trust. Brand explained that the latter can mean customer service or consistency in product assortment, but either way, HSN “wants to be her trusted best friend.”

Currently, digital comprises about 40 percent of sales and mobile 15 percent — and instead of using the term “omnichannel,” the company is fusing the channels together in a way that maintains the characteristics of each.

Brand calls this creative orchestration — a multimedia environment where video content, video commerce, real-time interaction, gamification and more can live. It’s also a fusion of shopping and technology, the point where those two intersect, and even talking to the consumer post purchase. The two reinforced that HSN’s core mission is to marry its entertainment and lifestyle programming with an interactive network.

“We’re looking for partnerships that allow us to tell stories and be inspired. We have an ongoing partnership with Disney, and [this allows us to] build brand awareness and acquire new customers. We also see engaging with current customers when we tell stories in a different or unique way. It’s blurring the lines between entertainment and retail,” Brand said.

Gaming continues to be integral to HSN, and figuring out ways to integrate the HSN Arcade across the entire site is a focus right now, according to Ross. When the company looked at what the consumer was doing when she wasn’t shopping, it found she was playing casual games. Since gaming launched on the site in 2011, there are nearly one million registered gamers who have played 170 million games.

In an interview after the presentation, Brand called digital the growth engine for the entire company. Fifty percent of traffic comes from mobile and between 50 and 60 percent of e-mails are being opened on a mobile device. This created a need to change the company’s mobile strategy — and quickly — resulting in the right message, font size and shop buttons front and center. Updated mobile creative was rolled out in the fourth quarter of last year and the company will continue to reinvent its approach on the channel.

“We do invest in technology, but it’s all disruptive. So the challenge is disrupting yourself first,” Brand said.