Kohl’s turns to YouTube to launch junior’s line

Discussion
Sep 18, 2014

Asserting that TV is no longer effectively reaching teenage girls, Kohl’s is using a YouTube mini-series featuring top teen influencers to launch its new limited-edition juniors line.

The first part of the S.o. R.a.d. junior’s line will launch at Kohl’s on Sept. 22, three days after "Life’s S.o. R.a.d.," the multi-part original scripted series, debuts on AwesomenessTV, a unit of DreamWorks Animation.

The initial series stars YouTube personalities Amanda Steele and Lia Marie Johnson in an imaginative depiction of their involvement in the S.o. R.a.d. brand’s creation. Ms. Steele, 15, has racked up 100 million views across her videos on YouTube while Ms. Johnson’s videos have been viewed 64 million times. Many of the videos deal with fashion and style as well as teenage life.

[Image: S.o. R.a.d.

The stars of the show will wear pieces from Kohl’s line, which will feature an array of dresses, sweaters and skirts. Each episode will also engage viewers in a social conversation using the #sorad hashtag on Twitter and Instagram. Each of the future series’ seasons will feature a different pair of influencers and completely unique storylines.

The campaign comes as teens are increasingly digesting video content online, rather than on TV.

"We weren’t finding these consumers and our voice wasn’t relevant," Will Setliff, EVP of marketing at Kohl’s, told the Wall Street Journal of the department store chain’s past teen efforts. By comparison, he believes digital content creation and social media offer opportunities for "genuine, organic conversation" with the teen demographic.

"Younger audiences have a different relationship with media," Mr. Setliff told Internet Retailer. "It’s important to start a dialogue with content they care about in channels that fit their world versus just pushing out our messages."

Kohl’s has agreed to buy ads on the AwesomenessTV network of YouTube channels, which boasts of 52 million subscribers. The line will also be marketed across print and digital media.

In another twist, AwesomenessTV co-developed the line and will get a royalty on sales. James Fielding, formerly CEO of Claire’s Stores and one-time president of Disney Stores Worldwide, was recently hired by AwesomenessTV as global head of consumer products and retail to boost merchandise sales. YouTube takes 45 percent of ad sales generated by videos on its network, but video creators to get the full cut of any merchandise sales.

Is digital content offering a more relevant voice for stores to reach teenagers than traditional media? What do you think of tying a collection to an online mini-series?

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11 Comments on "Kohl’s turns to YouTube to launch junior’s line"


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Frank Riso
Guest
7 years 7 months ago

Absolutely the right way to reach teenagers. They are not carrying TVs or newspapers around all day. I can see the day when no one watches TV anymore but sees their favorite shows (and TV ads) on their mobile devices, what ever they are at the time. Kohl’s continues to set the pace in retailing.

Paula Rosenblum
Guest
7 years 7 months ago

I’ve honestly never understood how marketers can genuinely measure the ROI of TV ads in the first place. And now, with DVRs, it’s way too easy to breeze through commercials.

As long as Kohl’s has a way to let Millennials know the series is on, and the content is interesting, they’ll definitely see quantifiable ROI. They’ll certainly be able to quantify the reach.

Ron Margulis
Guest
7 years 7 months ago

When I dropped off my daughter at Parsons School of Design last month I noticed that neither she nor her roommates had a brought a TV with them. I asked about it and they said all the shows they would want to watch can be seen on their laptops or tablets. This is at the country’s leading fashion school, and apparel retailers and manufacturers won’t be able to reach them through traditional channels. For these future (and maybe current) trendsetters, digital is the primary channel for marketing, while print is probably a distant second.

Liz Crawford
Guest
7 years 7 months ago

The best part of this program is the strategic use of the teen influencers. Sure Youtube is the tactical vehicle du jour—but without those influencers Kohl’s wouldn’t have much.

Best to continue to think strategically, and let the tactics ride with the moment.

Chris Petersen, PhD
Guest
7 years 7 months ago

I continue to scratch my head as to why more retailers don’t use the most powerful social media out there—YouTube. If you have the right content, quality production and add value, you can reach any audience, especially Millennials.

But I agree with Liz Crawford on this one. There has to be a strategy on how to use YouTube. There are hundreds of millions of YouTube videos with no views. Kohl’s seems to have put together the right strategy for reaching their target audience. Having two key influencers with millions of YouTube views is a great place to start.

Mel Kleiman
Guest
7 years 7 months ago

As I read this, I think: “Here I am, I’m over 60 and I think I understand technology and use it every day.” But do I really get it? NO.

The key here is that Kohl’s is going where the audience they want to attract is.

P.S. It doesn’t matter if most of us who read this don’t get it. Just remember to fish where the fish are and use the bait the fish like to eat.

George-Marie Glover
Guest
George-Marie Glover
7 years 7 months ago

The key here is not the vehicle but the content. If Kohl’s uses traditional advertising on YouTube, they’re misusing a great opportunity. They need to be strategic about reaching junior girls with relevant information and tips that peak their interest and keep them engaged. Then they have to deliver with quality goods at competitive prices.

If they’re smart, they’ve done a lot of homework before venturing into this promising domain.

Matt Schmitt
Guest
7 years 7 months ago

Spot on. The YouTube influencers are new media stars and the reach and frequency of engagement are significant.

AwesomenessTV and others provide a path for brands, through associated advertising and/or unique sponsored programming.

Kudos to Kohl’s.

Shep Hyken
Guest
7 years 7 months ago

I’m surprised more retailers aren’t using YouTube as a powerful marketing/advertising strategy. The key is to deliver content, tell a story … make it fun and relevant versus blatantly promotional.

I watched a Coke commercial on YouTube. It really wasn’t a blatant commercial. It was fun, entertaining, etc. It went semi-viral. It cost very little to produce and virtually nothing to place on the YouTube platform. The number of eyeballs watching was high. The cost per impression was lower than the typical advert spend. In my mind, that’s a huge success.

Kai Clarke
Guest
7 years 7 months ago

Digital content is an alternative, but hardly a replacement for more traditional media. It is a great idea to showcase these young women fashions, and measure the impact of YouTube on their target market, but Kohl’s shopper (i.e. the one who has the money) is still an adult….

Chuck Palmer
Guest
7 years 7 months ago

This series will appear on Awesomeness TV, that will in turn get a cut of the sales. That is intriguing. If nothing else, it mitigates risk for Kohl’s. We will be seeing more and more of these kinds of consumer-centric deals coming down the pike.

No mention of the in-store presence or if there are links to the merch embeded in the video or on the YouTube page. Hmmm.

And shouldn’t this have launched August 1? It seems a little late for back-to-school. Or am I missing the point?

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