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Justin Cooke, Topshop’s chief marketing officer, sees his mission as far bigger than framing product — and flogging it. His business is more about seduction than anything else.
“You can take market share if you take mind share. I am a big dreamer, and I encourage people to [dream],” he said during a wide-ranging talk that touched on Nike, Disney, Nobel Prize winners and the changes he’s made to Topshop’s online presence.
This story first appeared in the July 17, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“For me, it’s about companies that instill magic within you, and Disney is one of the greatest examples of that. They make people dream from a very early age, and I think that is a real learning tool for any company — how you put value into people from a very early stage.
“I believe in emotional intelligence, and it’s driving the world like it always has. I don’t think people have always recognized it. It trumps everything. When you’re selling stuff you’re moving people from a place where they need something to [a place where] they are wanting something — and that’s really powerful.”
Cooke said his approach with Topshop’s e-commerce site has been about re-creating the in-store experience — and then embellishing it with humor, intrigue and one-off experiences tailored to different times of the year.
“The core customers are 15 to 25, they want to be excited and inspired and [the store] has always been about the experience,” he said. “You go in, and you can have ice cream, have your tattoos done…you can have your piercing, your hair done, its a full-on experience and that’s what retail should be about, not just selling stuff.”
With regard to the site, Cooke said he put Topshop in the center — and then worked outward.
“I wanted to create that seamless journey from the minute you interact with Topshop…keeping that emotional connection all the time…excitement across everything, but with a Topshop filter on it.”
One of the first things he did was put iTunes on the homepage. “This is the way the customer moves today. They don’t want to go to 10 different places, they want to feel everything in one environment, so make it easier for them.”
Topshop’s site allows viewers to share images as they watch the Topshop Unique runway shows, and to customize the looks coming down the runway by clicking on a photo of the look next to the video stream.
Last season, he put cameras on models to give a first-person perspective on what it’s like to walk a runway. He launched a Halloween competition where visitors could post their favorite makeup looks and created special red envelope gift cards to mark the Chinese New Year.
At Christmas, the retailer filmed a Topshop-clad Kate Bosworth singing “Winter Wonderland” — and then teased audiences with a flash video, asking them to guess who the singer was.
“Talking about collecting data, the [guesses] inform who we are going to use in the future. Now, I know who they love, and who…they are going to want.”