Mickey Drexler sends an e-mail to J.Crew customers
In an unusual move, Mickey Drexler, J.Crew’s chairman and CEO, sent an e-mail Saturday morning to customers detailing the progress the chain is making in upgrading its product offerings.
Entitled “On customers and caffè Americano,” Mr. Drexler talks about how he spent his day on Friday — heading to the gym, listening to his favorite music and picking up coffee when a woman came up to him at the company’s Soho store and said, “My J.Crew is back.”
Mr. Drexler wrote, “I know she was responding to the color, the quality, our fresh take on the classics.”
He then discussed how the J.Crew team is dedicated to providing its customers with the “best quality, design, service and prices” and encouraged customers to visit the stores or jcrew.com as well as reach out to him. He wrote, “If there’s something you think we can do better. I want to hear it — just email me: firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Mr. Drexler is a merchandising legend known for creating the Gap chain, launching Old Navy and successfully repositioning J.Crew in the prior decade as an upscale boutique.
But J.Crew has struggled in recent years due in large part to fashion miscues. The chain has been hurt by its move away from classic styles and price hikes. The company largely ignored the athleisure trend led by Lululemon. Customers have complained about fit and quality as well as higher prices. After several quarters of discounting to clear inventories, J.Crew must also now retrain customers to buy at full price.
J.Crew’s fourth quarter showed some progress, with a narrower loss and same-store sales only declining four percent. In its earnings release, Mr. Drexler said the company is “better positioned having made important changes in our product and marketing and through the careful management of expenses and inventory.”
- Mickey Drexler’s E-Mail to Customers – J. Crew
- Mickey Drexler Personally Solicits Feedback from J. Crew Customers – Women’s Wear Daily (sub. required)
- J.Crew Group, Inc. Announces Fourth Quarter and Fiscal Year 2015 Results – J. Crew
- J.Crew is turning into a discount retailer – Business Insider
- J. Crew Posts Narrower Loss as Preppy Chain Revamps Business – Bloomberg
What benefit, if any, does J.Crew gain from Mickey Drexler’s e-mail to customers? Does Mr. Drexler have much credibility with the average J.Crew consumer? Should CEOs make a habit of communicating with their customers?
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18 Comments on "Mickey Drexler sends an e-mail to J.Crew customers"
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The email shows that the CEO has been listening to customers and is personally overseeing changes at the retailer. Though Mr. Drexler may not carry weight with every J.Crew customer, he is a legend in the industry, and any uptick in sales would be beneficial. CEOs should communicate with customers when there is something important to say.
I’m sure that loyal J.Crew customers would welcome an email from the CEO, but I think it’s going to take more than this to regain their business. It’s an open question whether “my J.Crew is back” (in the SoHo customer’s words).
As regular shoppers for three family members in their 20s (who were all longtime J.Crew shoppers), I’m seeing progress but not a complete return to the depth of updated, well-made classics that built the store’s reputation. Meanwhile, I’m seeing improvements at J.Crew Mercantile but it’s not clear how its growth will cannibalize the parent chain.
The challenge of inviting your loyal customers back into your store is to make sure you are 100 percent ready for them.
It makes sense for retailers to have an ongoing dialog with their customers — another way to engage and generate loyalty. Mr. Drexler’s email is straightforward and offers customers a peak behind the scenes. With little downside risk he and his team will soon know if the recipients are pleased with the correspondence and in fact write back (wouldn’t that be something). Not every CEO or retailer has a short-but-sweet message. And not every CEO or retailer has a Mickey Drexler personality. Engaging customers make sense across the board, but every retailer has to pick and choose their own appropriate and relatable means of communication.
Kudos to Mr. Drexler, but it’s not enough. My J.Crew has a small clearance section, and I headed there recently to check out costume jewelry. A necklace that attracted my attention was marked down to — ahem — $150. Some of the hottest trends in women’s fashion these days are fast-fashion outlets and rentals — full-price stores should be on alert to the fact that their business model is in grave peril.
The biggest benefit is simply in the communications, namely, that J.Crew cares enough for the CEO to reach out to them. However, the Drexler email is still basically a sales pitch, which refers to the “best quality, design, service and prices” available from J.Crew.
He does encourage customer feedback which is a good thing. The potential downside here is if customers do communicate something they think J.Crew can do better, there needs to be a response from J.Crew.
If CEOs are willing to engage in a meaningful dialog with their customers, then proceed with caution. If it’s a PR campaign, be careful not to open Pandora’s Box.
This is a smart move. The email is personable, short and to the point, and makes the customer feel like their concerns have been listened to. Encouraging customer feedback is a good thing as long as someone is listening on the other end. I can’t see a downside to this.
I like the idea of a CEO sending an email to customers, but the tone of Drexler’s version leaves me cold. First, he doesn’t even introduce himself. As a shopper, am I supposed to know who he is? Why is he talking about his gym, his playlist, his coffee? Why do I care?
As a customer, I would have stopped reading and deleted the email after the first few sentences. Which is a shame, because the latter half of the email makes some earnest and compelling points about how he is turning around J.Crew.
The benefit to brand J.Crew is enhanced relevance, if the content adds value to the reader. Drexler is known to the industry and taste makers — some will acknowledge his effort. Familiarity among customers isn’t crucial if the content is relevant.
We are in the age of a new holy trinity: Authentic, transparent and personal. If the content addresses those consumer expectations, then it might be effective.
The key is to open and maintain a dialog. Prove listening skills and reward contribution. Neither top-down nor one-way. Most get distracted by the new-new thing and these are a “one-off.” Without a commitment to relevant customer dialog, there is risk.
Or as we like to say, “retail ain’t for sissies.”
I received it and only ever shopped at J.Crew about five times in my life so it was random. It also looked like a phishing email because we all know him as Mickey and it was from Millard. Not cool! This was written days, probably months in advance of its release by the corporate communications team. They could have made one last revision that may have pulled a few heartstrings for the reader by citing Prince as the music of choice. Even if that’s not true, it would have been timely. There’s a lot of other stuff in that email that is so not hitting the mark, why not appeal to customer’s emotions and cite the Purple One? It wouldn’t have hurt. Finally, I don’t want to hear from the millionaire CEO. It’s pretentious. We are so not on the same level playing field and I could care less how he spent his Saturday morning (again, a lie because this was drafted beforehand).
I felt like someone in retail actually remembered Marshall Field.
I love the authenticity and transparency in Mr. Drexler’s note — it doesn’t grovel but it does nod to the fact that they are working to better meet their customer’s expectations. However, I would hope that there is solid strategy behind it that puts what he’s saying into action. If I were part of this, I’d ensure that PR, product design, pricing, shopper experience, merchandising and social/customer input were supporting it and that tangible progress was being tracked across both sentiment and sales. We’ll be watching J.Crew!
One thing that has to be said about Mr. Drexler is that he really cares about the brand and he wants his customers to love it as much as he does.
While it might seem to people unfamiliar with him that this is some sort of publicity stunt, I don’t think so. He’s sincere in his effort to deliver what his customers want and that goes a long way with customers.
A lot can and is being said about the timing, content, etc. but he added his email address. If you’ve got a complaint, email him and see what happens. My bet is that you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Will this direct contact with customers help right the ship? Might help and certainly can’t hurt.
Action, action, action. An errant email sent in bulk to their customers is no better than spam. The key to success is for Drexler to show how their promises are turning into actions which their customers are clamoring for. Anything less than this is merely words and broken promises. The quicker that the company takes real action, and demonstrates it in their stores, the greater the impact Drexler really has….
His heart is in the right place but I do think Mr. Drexler’s ego got the best of him. I don’t think the email will do much good, or that it will even get read by most recipients. As somebody else above astutely observed — it’s just more retail spam.
Gee Mickey, self-indulgent much? There are probably people who would respond to this — I’m not one of them — but given the small number who likely know (or care) who “Mickey Drexler” is, I don’t see this really going anywhere.
This is just a regular marketing email. CEOs should absolutely make a habit of emailing their customers, but on a per-person basis, and to hear what their customers have to say and not the other way around.
Eliciting feedback from customers and even offering a personal email to reply to shows that they actually care about their customers. Will it have an impact on sales? That’s hard to say, but at the very least it should help with building a more positive brand perception and upping the “consideration” factor.
While Mr. Drexler is legendary in retail, he’s not a household name among many of his customers, nor is this email overly customer centric. The first section of the email is all about Mickey, which is not how I would write it.
That said, the idea of a strategy behind “Your J.Crew” has merit but beyond Mr. Drexler talking with customers as he shops his stores, it’s not been apparent to us.