Martine Reardon Talks Macy’s Marketing

by Elise Diamantini

Flower shows, fireworks, Fashion Rocks: Macy’s sure knows how to throw a monumental event or two. And under the leadership of chief marketing officer Martine Reardon (and, of course, her boss Terry Lundgren), no matter how big or small the effort, Macy’s puts the customer first.

Martine Reardon-Nov2014When we met with Martine Reardon at her 34th Street office for this interview, she had just wrapped up the big fall campaign for Fashion Rocks, a nationally televised fashion and music event at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center featuring performances by top artists like Jennifer Lopez, Usher and Pitbull. Coming off the excitement and buzz surrounding this successful event, Reardon says it was an important opportunity for them to launch the new (and exclusive) Ryan Seacrest Distinction collection, the focus of fall ’14 menswear. Marketing the collection takes a 360-degree approach: the Fashion Rocks event, social media campaigns, the Macy’s fashion book and the men’s wardrobe sale. Seacrest even hosted his radio show (interviewing Nick Jonas) outside the Herald Square store as part of the promotion strategy. And something must be catching on because Reardon says the line is already selling, and at full price. “So you can imagine how it will do when it becomes a part of our big men’s events,” she says. “Terry loves it too. He bought a sportcoat to wear to Fashion Rocks!”

Ryan Seacrest on the air live in a Macy's Herald Square window
Ryan Seacrest on the air live in a Macy’s Herald Square window

Interestingly, the collection is not designed around Seacrest’s body type, but rather his aesthetic. “He doesn’t pretend to be a designer,” admits Reardon. “He’s curating the collection because he recognizes fashion. When you think it about, he’s on more red carpets than anyone else so he has the opportunity to see what Hollywood men are wearing. He’s got a great eye for spotting fashion and trends. As a matter of fact, he’s been credited with bringing back the tie clip for men! So he was a great choice for us, and Fashion Rocks was a great opportunity for us to kick off this new brand.”

But it’s not all celebrities and fashion in the marketing department: Reardon’s team is very data driven and rooted in scientific research. She explains, “We do a lot of consumer research that grounds us in the strategies we put forth, not just from a marketing standpoint but also from a merchandising perspective. We have a research department rooted in NPD data that helps us understand where the white space is and where the opportunities are, so we don’t cannibalize our other businesses. We call that an outside in, so we see what’s going on in the world outside of us, and then there’s an inside out piece that studies the Macy’s consumer. We have 30 million people in our database who enjoy shopping with us and sharing information, so we’re able to strategically market to that consumer.”

Millennial Focus

Macy’s knows that Millennial consumers live on their mobile devices and tablets. Since 2010 the company has nearly tripled its investment in digital, social and mobile media in order to reach the Millennial consumer. “We’ve also mobile- and tablet-optimized our e-commerce website and recently re-launched our mobile app in order to create the best customer shopping experience within those platforms,” explains Reardon. “During the same time period, we’ve grown our overall video investment 40 percent, in part due to an increase in our digital video spend. The growth in our investment is driven by the significant increase in online video consumption among consumers, particularly among the Millennial demographic.”

Within social media, Macy’s broadened its publishing and paid media strategy and has seen some of the fastest follower growth in Millennial-centric platforms like Instagram. “We’ve tailored our social publishing strategy to deliver content that’s relevant to Millennials on the social platforms where they are most active, and have leveraged tactics like social direct response to help drive sales from within those platforms. We’ve also begun aligning our broadcast and social media strategies in order to amplify the efficacy of the campaign across channels.”

Reardon also notes how social is now blurring the lines with commerce. “We’re finding that consumers are using mobile first for everything. They may not be purchasing on a smart phone, but they’re doing a great deal of research on it.” When asked what the future looks like for mobile, Reardon says everything will be much faster. “The customer is demanding speed and detail. So you’ll see more animation coming out of mobile: more 3-D images, being able to see the outfit from 20 different vantage points rather than one straight shot. And because our focus is always on the customer, if he decides that all his media will be consumed through mobile, then that’s what we’re going to do.”

Macy’s is also focused on digital marketing, specifically in the men’s active space. They’re working with men’s health websites to get the message out to sports enthusiasts (or people who want to look like sports enthusiasts) to let them know that whether they’re working out or not, Macy’s has the athletic wear to do it in. “We also have this documentary series that we’re doing around athletic. It’s about focusing on everyday athletes and their training environments, whether it’s cycling, boxing or cross training. These videos are live on and our YouTube channel. Active is such a powerful category for us now and there’s no end in sight. Men are into being healthy and are adding that health-conscious concern to their lifestyles.”

Marketing Through Events and Partnerships

Since the last consolidation in 2009, Macy’s now has the ability to sponsor national events like the Thanksgiving Day Parade, Fashion Rocks and the Fourth of July Fireworks. But they also have success with in-store events: Macy’s one-day sales, friends and family events (which offer customers a private discount), as well as their private men’s events and wardrobe sales. “We’ve seen success in our efforts to reach both male and female customers through sports marketing and events.”

Reardon acknowledges that much of their success is built on their partnerships with brands like Michael Kors, Finish Line, Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein and private label INC. “We have also built marketing partnerships with Clear Channel, Facebook, Google and Apple. Plus our spirit of partnerships extends through Cause Marketing to support Go Red for Women, Got Your Six and Make-a-Wish. All of the partners help us build our campaigns such as Believe, American Icons and our Fashion Events.”

Martine on Terry

“He is one of the most inspiring leaders anyone could come across. I’ve known Terry for probably 20 years: when we were seven different nameplates across the country, we had seven different EVPs of marketing and Terry was head of the marketing team. So we got to share a lot of our marketing ideas with him. He is such a great brand person. He thinks like a marketer so he would always encourage us to do more to take risks, to challenge ourselves to think differently. That kind of leadership has allowed us to stay ahead of the competition. We just had a great recognition from the L2 Digital Index: for three years we’ve been at Genius level, a testament to how Terry encourages us to think differently. Just because you did something last year doesn’t mean you have to do it again this year, or you don’t have to do it in the exact same way. He’s coined a phrase that we all use quite often and that’s ‘noble failures.’ He doesn’t see anything we do as a failure: he sees it as us learning something, learning how to do things differently. One of our recent noble failures is that on occasion, we outpace consumers on adoption of new technology and have built marketing activations before they might be ready for them. But now that most consumers are carrying smart phones at all times, we’re seeing better results.”