Mindy Grossman doesn’t like to be boxed in.
“I believe the future is all about boundary-less retail,” the HSN CEO said during a presentation on the second day of the summit. “It’s one where the goal is to be flexible and adaptive, collaborative and interactive, and leverage innovation and technology to remove barriers and create a seamless brand experience for consumers.”
That’s especially important when those consumers can’t readily touch, taste or smell the product being shown. And when you’re selling, say, footwear or perfume, the challenge is even more daunting.
But since Grossman took over HSN four years ago, the network has found a sound strategy.
Grossman said consumers will splurge if retailers create experiences that go well beyond just selling product.
“To compete in the future,” she said, “HSN and all retailers and brands have to further hone their unique message and ensure that it is told consistently and cohesively across every touch point, truly creating an experience that transcends the ordinary and connects emotionally with consumers.”
One way to do that, she suggested, is by creating experiences that come to life for the potential buyer. For instance, when legendary crooner Rod Stewart was set to release a new album last fall, HSN partnered with his record label to present a live on-air concert. The result? More than 30,000 CDs were sold in an hour.
It proved, Grossman said, the music business wasn’t dead; it just needed fresh thinking. It also gave HSN a 20 percent spike in new customers.
“Expanding our reach and getting customers to know about HSN is a significant area of focus,” she said. “Our strategy is to create what we refer to as ‘appointments to view,’ events that bring customers into HSN for the first time.”
Looking for new partners has been key to the network’s growth. Grossman said HSN hunted for ways to tap into other parts of the entertainment business through collaborations that would “allow us to tell stories and create product inspired by those stories.”
To that end, HSN last year worked with Sony to develop a shopping event pegged to the big screen version of “Eat Pray Love.” The 72-hour broadcast featured 35 brands and more than 500 products inspired by the main character’s journey to Italy, Bali and India.
For 2011, another major film tie-in is in the works. “Think dancing. Think shoes. Think the South,” Grossman hinted.
She added, “It’s critical to have a venue to tell your brand story and reach the customer in a more intimate way. … The vast direct-to-consumer reach of HSN, the ability to create content and now leverage it across multiple platforms is a differentiator for HSN and for brands.”