Who Moved My Platform? Changing Acquisition Channels Mid-COVID

Things change when you have a pandemic. And sometimes that's for the best. Indeed, panelists at Wednesday's Brand Insider Summit D2C agreed as much.

Alieu Fye, Senior Director Marketing and Acquisition at Mack Weldon (top, right), marketer of men's clothing, said that going forward, "customers will be different from how we viewed them in the past. The key is flexibility being conveyed in how we speak to the customer. People have problems, we provide a solution."

What the brand has learned, he said, is that the way to speak to customers "now and for a long time is, 'how does it make you feel.' We have to tap into the emotions that product is bringing out for the customer. We are focusing on getting them in the door and showing them the full assortment of what we have."

Noting that Mack Weldon sweatpants have been flying out the door, Fye said one way they are working to keep those new customers is by showing them that "what you loved in sweat pants, we can provide the same level of comfort, i.e. feeling, in these other products."

Another area that opened his eyes, he said, was where the brand put its media spend. Before COVID-19 hit, Mack Weldon was heavy on sports programming. When that went south, consumers turned to ESPN and talk shows so that's where the media money went. "It opened a bunch of new channels for us."

Will Flaherty, VP of Growth at Ro (bottom, left), said that, moving forward, "one thing we've understood is the value of having flexibility in media." When COVID-19 came along, the telehealth company was able to quickly reallocate its media spend and get ahead of large brands that may have had their spend committed well in advance.

Before March, the D2C brand had a diverse mix of search, Facebook, offline channels, TV, audio and some out of home. Live sports had been a key component of its advertising strategy for its Roman digital health clinic for men in their 40s and 50s. It even had a partnership with Major League Baseball. Then sports went dark.

Flaherty said they looked at consumer behavior and saw that TV viewership was up about 35% while CPM rates dropped so they allocated spend to news programming. For the one sport that continued to air — NASCAR — Ro sponsored a driver. "We were able to take advantage of opportunities in the dynamic created by COVID."

Eric Tsai, VP, Marketing and Analytics at Joybird (bottom, right), also participated on the panel moderated by MediaPost's Lisa Singer, event editorial manager (top, left).

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