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Expert Q&A: Creating a New Product Category in Ecommerce

When your ecommerce product is truly innovative, there is no playbook to follow for marketing it.

JeffMcRitchieThat’s the experience that QALO has had in marketing their brand of silicone rings. The ecommerce brand was started four years ago by Ted Baker and KC Holiday, who were both newly married and disliked their uncomfortable metal wedding rings. They decided to create a safe and comfortable alternative: the silicone wedding ring.

The idea took off. QALO has grown exponentially, however, that growth was not simple and direct. Melody Ichikawa, the Director of Ecommerce at QALO, explains how the company has tackled the challenge of marketing such an innovative product.

In this exclusive interview, Melody explained that QALO’s focus is honing in on their audience and serving them personalized and appealing marketing. They do this through:

  • Influencer partnerships, including sports and fitness stars
  • A focus on customer feedback
  • Marketing personalization
  • …and much more.

1. Who is the target audience for QALO today? How do you think about that audience and what they’re looking for?

For QALO, there really is a ring for everybody. It’s not just for outdoors enthusiasts and fitness gurus: it’s for a mechanic during his work day, a chef who needs a ring that can stand up to the dirtiest kitchens, a firefighter who can’t wear metal on the job. There are so many peopthathan can find a use for our product.

Today, we mainly focus on active audiences and our vocational markets.

2. As a B2C marketer, what’s your biggest challenge in terms of reaching and engaging this audience effectively?

As technology keeps evolving at such a rapid rate, we are constantly adapting how we engage our customers. We’re always looking for different ways to engage with our audience interactively, to make our messages specific to our customers and their unique use cases. We make sure that we think of innovative, strategic ways to effectively talk to our customers through partnerships with influencers and athletes.

3. How do you create a more personalized and custom experience for your buyers? How do you think about that personalization across channels and devices?

We focus on personalization through our product. Whether it’s the exterior or the interior of the ring, you can customize it with a special phrase or date to make the ring unique. Since it is a wedding ring, our customization options are really special to our customers and they really value it. It’s not just a ring you wear to the gym — it’s your secondary wedding ring (or for some customers, their only wedding ring!).

4. What marketing tactics have been most successful for you? How are you reaching new buyers and increasing the value of your existing customers?

One of our most successful marketing tactics is actually listening directly to our customers. We take the comments from our customers to heart, read what they post on social media and send in emails, or what they tell us on our phone calls. We love to hear from our customers and incorporate their feedback. We see the commonality in people asking for a specific type of ring or saying there’s some niche that we haven’t addressed yet, and we actively try to address it through our product calendars and marketing plans.

5. Can you share a marketing campaign that you were especially proud of? What was so great about it and why do you think it proved to be so successful?

Earlier this year we launched women’s stackables, which are a bit thinner than our classic rings. You can mix and match different stackable rings to make a wedding ring personalized just for you, and the product launch was extremely successful for us.

We partnered with the influential fitness brand, Tone It Up, and through this relationship, we were able to reach a new demographic of customers.

6. What campaigns are you working on right now? How are you thinking about holiday marketing specifically?

We’re focused on expanding our customization throughout the remainder of the year so you can give a personalized gift to your loved one for the holidays. We’re also honing in on commitment as our message. And when we talk about commitment, it’s not just commitment to yourself, it’s commitment to someone you love and commitment to something you love. What you love could be running, or rock climbing, or even cooking a new recipe — there’s so many different things that you can be committed to, and that’s what we want our products to portray.

7. What’s your focus for 2018? What areas of growth do you predict for the world of ecommerce in the future?

We are launching some exciting products that will be revolutionary for the QALO brand. We are also focusing more on how we enhance our customer experience further.

For ecommerce as a whole, I think the future outlook is bright. After seeing more and more people transitioning to shopping online each year, it’s only going to continue to grow. It used to be notoriously difficult to sell specific categories of products online – like denim – but even that is changing. I’m excited to see how people continue to innovate and make it easier for consumers to make that transition from shopping in-store to online.

To learn more about Melody Ichikawa, visit QALO.com.

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