October 01, 2009

Gliebers Dresses: Jewel Tones

Time for our weekly peek into the world of Gliebers Dresses.

Glenn Glieber (Owner): "... no, I don't want real cheese and meat and scallions and sour cream and salsa on my nachos. Nachos are all about fake cheese, in fact, those who serve nachos must offer a bonus serving of fake cheese on the side. The right way to make nachos is to generously drizzle a scalding hot ladle of fake nacho cheese on the chips, and then offer a side of fake nacho cheese in a small plastic container. No other toppings are necessary, folks, the chips and fake cheese should stand on their own merits."

Meredith Thompson (Chief Merchandising Officer): "Kevin, is that you?"

Kevin: "Yup, it is me."

Meredith Thompson: "Kevin, here's our question. Does creative matter?"

Kevin: "Define what 'creative' means to you?"

Meredith Thompson: "The way that merchandise is presented to the customer."

Pepper Morgan (Chief Marketing Officer): "We all watching 'Dancing With The Stars', I mean, not only us here at Gliebers Dresses, but at home, too ... Sonora and Sedona hold up their scoring paddles along with the judges while hubby burns the midnight oil at work. Anyway, you probably noticed how jewel tones recently took over the show. I'm looking through the catalog, and I realize that we missed the trend. We offer the product, but we missed the entire fall color palette in print. So I want to re-shoot everything online to reflect what's hot. We need to re-merchandise our landing pages in order to make a statement that is congruent with what they're doing on 'Dancing With The Stars'."

Lois Gladstone (Chief Financial Officer): "And I'm saying we don't have the money to re-shoot everything. We have a profit and loss statement to protect. Our scarce resources are funding our loyalty program right now. I'd rather fund customer loyalty than the whim of a Creative expert who thinks we missed the color palette."

Pepper Morgan: "Merchandise and our color palette create customer loyalty. If we don't have the merchandise, and we don't present it right, we don't have a business. This isn't a whim, this is my expert opinion."

Roger Morgan (Chief Operations Officer): "I was at work late a few nights ago going through every single white paper and research document I've ever purchased. You know what? I've yet to find a single research company, blogger, or industry conference that is willing to say anything about creative, so it must not matter much, or somebody would be trying to make money off of it, right? From what I heard, Facebook and Twitter and Personalization were the big topics at Shop.org, not the dress color that is likely to turbocharge conversion rates. We need to focus on strategy."

Meredith Thompson: "Here's the thing. Chip Cayman blasted us at Shop.org last week for being, if I recall the quote, 'lumbering fools at the tar pit of extinction'. Well, we're trying to be nimble here, like those online folks, and we're going to say we cannot spend money re-shooting product?"

Lois Gladstone: "Isn't it both of your jobs to know what the fashion trends are before the season starts? I trust you to do that, and you need to trust me with our budgetary constraints. The customer doesn't care what color we depict online or in catalogs, as long as all colors are available. I sure don't care."

Kevin: "Let's not focus on the things that divide us. Can we all agree that we want to make more profit? Can we all agree that we need to be responsive to changes in customer preference? Can we all agree that we need to minimize expense? Can we all agree we need to be nimble and flexible? Can we all agree that we'd prefer it if all marketing strategies were free?"

Glenn Glieber: "I love free marketing!"

Kevin: "But this doesn't have to be an all-or-nothing issue. Pepper, identify the twelve best selling styles that you perceive we have a color palette issue with. Randomly choose six of the items to be re-shot. The other six items are not re-shot, this represents your control group. Now put the test images up on the website for a week, and measure clicks, conversion rate, and sales for the test and control group. After a week, compare the two sets of items, and see which set worked best. Jewel tone items must outperform existing creative, and if they do outperform existing creative, Lois can run a profit and loss statement to see if it pays to re-shoot everything."

Roger Morgan: "That's complete garbage. You cannot tell anything from twelve items. And in the catalog, we've already depicted the items a certain way. So the test is not valid, we'd have to test the color palette in the catalog as well in order for this to be a fair test, and we simply cannot react that fast --- we could impact the February catalog at earliest. So your test design fails to measure anything."

Lois Gladstone: "And I don't think you have a big enough sample size, either. One week isn't long enough to run the test."

Pepper Morgan: "Lois, could you volunteer a test design and measurement strategy that would meet your needs, and oh, by the way, can you back up your opinions with actual statistical theory? What is the math that supports your disenchantment with the test design?"

Lois Gladstone: "I don't need to back up my opinions with math, I just think the test design stinks. I don't agree with it, and I don't want to waste money re-shooting any items."

Pepper Morgan: "It'll cost us less than a couple thousand dollars to re-shoot this stuff. It's a cheap test. Isn't this what web analytics and website optimization is all about? Everybody was talking about this style of testing at Shop.org last week, heck, Amazon is doing optimization testing every time you refresh your browser."

Lois Gladstone: "We're not Amazon, Pepper, their executional strategies won't work at a leading fashion apparel brand."

Kevin: "Glenn, I laid out a test design that answers the strategic question for very little cost. It's been my experience that creative treatment can have a plus or minus twenty percent impact on items sales, so I think this is worth testing. Your thoughts?"

Glenn Glieber: "Run the test, we're not at the tar pit of extinction around here, we're a learning organization! Now let's move on to the next topic. If you're really interested in good nachos, the Shell station on 27th Ave. has a great deal, just $2.99 and you get to pump all the free fake cheese you want onto your heaping serving of chips."


  1. Kevin, there is one problem: through sequential testing ("...put the test images up on the website for a week, and measure clicks, conversion rate, and sales .... After a week, compare the two sets of items, and see...") you don't have a controlled environment. What if 'Dancing With The Stars' suddenly features dresses in primary colors the following week?

    Much better would be to select Google Website Optimizer (a FREE tool:) and run the test as an A/B/n test. Same cost but greater statistical reliability.


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