QVC's Zulily Uses 'Real People' In Marketing

Online retailer Zulily, part of Liberty Interactive's QVC Group, isn’t a fan of picture-perfect media campaigns. 

The company (with revenue of $438 million according to NASDAQ and net sales of $1.5 billion in 2016, per the company), prefers using real kids from the local community as models within their site imagery. Known for offering limited-time sales on boutique and beloved brands targeting moms, Zulily features over 100 shoppable events every day with many children’s events featuring real kids.

Zulily photographs 70 to 80 kids per week with an in-house creative studio and team. Complete with 23 sets used to build over 100 different scenes a day, Zulily highlights brands through every-day “real cuteness.” In exchange for modeling on Zulily, each child heads home with photos for their own portfolio, and parents receive credit to shop the site.



“Our customers are real people who enjoy real life, with all its moments of beauty and imperfection,” said Jana Krinsky, Zulily studio manager. “They love to see kids and adults that they can identify with, from their genuine expressions to the fit of a garment. This type of authenticity is brought to our customers by the real people and pets who visit the Zulily studio every day.” 

The majority of both kid and adult models from their very early days were actually Zulily employees, their children, families and friends. Since then, they’ve expanded to invite all children from the local community — either the company's headquarters in Seattle or office in Columbus, Ohio — to participate in modeling for Zulily.

“While Zulily is still only 7 years old, we have grown in that short time from two people with an idea to a 3,200-person company,” says Jenna Elliott, Zulily studio manager. “In the early days, we utilized our employees, and their friends and family, to model and help source local people to model for the site. Over the years, we wanted to keep this local component of featuring mostly real people on our website, and we have had several announcements through our blog and website to help find fresh, local talent.”

The models are most often featured in sales event home page imagery both on and the mobile applications, but also have the potential to be featured across all integrated marketing channels including organic and paid social, display advertisements, emails and unique campaign promotions.

“Using real people is very congruent with who we are as a company because we are for real moms and real people,” Elliott says. “I think it’s something that is unique about us, it makes us distinctive. We are a different company, and we are different on purpose. We are passionate about preserving the authenticity we have at our core.”

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