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DSW: Catering to the Shoe Lover

Consumers who are passionate about shoes are a unique category, and DSW Designer Shoe Warehouse has the data to prove it.

Shoe lovers aren’t typical consumers and DSW Designer Shoe Warehouse has the data to prove it.

This story first appeared in the September 26, 2012 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

They’re passionate about shoes, get a rush each time they buy a new pair, and love to share that latest shoe shopping experience with friends and family. That’s the shoe-lover profile in a nutshell, according to Kelly Cook, senior vice president of marketing for DSW.

“Whether it’s a five-inch shoe, a comfort shoe or a flat, shoe love is very personal,” Cook said. “We have customer love all over social media. They talk about their favorite flat or favorite athletic shoe. We get 1,000 tweets a month. They love sharing that line, ‘Where did you get those shoes?”’

She said the $2 billion DSW chain stocks more than 400 brands, sold more than 30 million pairs of shoes last year, and has 20 million loyalty customers accounting for almost 90 percent of the sales. Because of all those loyalty shoppers, “we have lots of data and analysis and lots of ways to understand what makes our customers tick,” Cook said.

She said it’s been the company’s mission to understand why many consumers are so passionate about shoes, and to “unlock the mystery of the rush,” meaning that emotional kick consumers get each time they buy a new pair.

Discussing the shoe lover’s behavior, Cook observed:

• Consumers are very interested in what DSW associates are wearing on their feet.

• Being able to find your specific size in your specific shoe style is “incredibly important.” And when the item of choice is not available, it generally doesn’t work to try to sell the customer an alternative footwear style, Cook suggested.

• Social media customers generate twice the revenue as other customers. “Those customers are more engaged in the brand,” Cook said, adding that DSW has a substantial presence on Facebook.

• When consumers receive a free gift with a purchase, they’re quick to post it on Facebook and like to share what they got for free.

• No amount of marketing or good strategies can undo a bad experience in the store.