On the Road to Brandweek: M.Gemi President Cheryl Kaplan Discusses Creating an ‘Obsession-Worthy’ Brand

Focused on making concierge-level connections for fashion retail

M.Gemi president Cheryl Kaplan joined us at Brandweek Sept. 22-25 in Palm Springs, Calif. Courtesy of Cheryl Kaplan
Headshot of James Cooper

Let’s face it, staying not only current with the latest fashion trends, but figuring out how and where to find them has traditionally been hard work. Even the online experience has been clunky and difficult to navigate in terms of options, comparison, advice and returns.

M.Gemi saw this disconnect between the brands and designers that consumers cherish and the shopping experience and stepped in with a concierge (a word we’ll start hearing more in the broader commerce space) service approach keying in on product and delighting the consumer at every step between discovery to purchase.

This move by M.Gemi—founded in 2014 and named after founding member Maria Gangemi, a longtime devotee of Italian craftsmanship and artistry—to redesign traditional forms of retail and style in the face of rapidly changing customer journeys in the fashion space is why Adweek is excited to speak to Cheryl Kaplan, the company’s co-founder and president. She joins the Challenger Brands Track, which features eight brand marketers who have disrupted their respective categories, at the inaugural Brandweek Summit in Palm Springs, Calif., Sept. 23 to 25.

Kristina Monllos, Adweek’s senior editor, brand marketing, spoke with Kaplan to unpack M.Gemi’s disruption of fashion and commerce.

We share five questions from their interview in the continuing On the Road to Brandweek series that will feature some of the absolutely stellar marketing executives set to speak. We’re excited to be on the road to Brandweek, and we hope you’ll join us.

Follow this link to learn more and to register.

Adweek: What does it take to create an impactful luxury brand in a fast-fashion world?
Cheryl Kaplan: Today’s consumer is extremely savvy, so shopping has become so much more than a transaction. Creating beautiful product is a given, but consumers are also looking for a great experience from end to end, which is why we have made shopping for M.Gemi such a simple and enjoyable process every step of the way. We built brand loyalty from the ground up by exceeding our clients’ expectations in everything we do, pairing luxury product with concierge customer service and the constant newness of our Monday drop model. All three of these priorities—product, service and concept—need to be in harmony to succeed in the market today.

What’s your greatest marketing tool?
Our marketing is built around creating an “obsession-worthy” brand and experiences that our customers can connect with on a deeper, emotional level. We actually view every aspect of the customer experience as part of our marketing strategy and our greatest tool to ensure our customers return to us time and time again—that includes the packaging, email marketing, social media, site experience, physical retail and of course, the product itself. That desire to connect, coupled with various data science-driven tactics and channels, help us spread the word about M.Gemi.

Lots of luxury brands are looking to street fashion to get younger consumers’ attention. Is that smart? Silly?
Smart—but that can be challenging for many luxury brands, who can’t keep up with the demands of today’s consumer. As a direct-to-consumer brand with a uniquely agile supply chain, we’re able to respond to customer preferences at a cadence formerly unheard of in the luxury footwear market—in as little as four weeks—so we operate at a much faster speed and can actually meet our consumer’s desires in the moment without compromising on quality and craftsmanship. Additionally it is essential that we never sacrifice M.Gemi’s brand identity to follow a fleeting trend, our customers and their real needs are always at the core of any decision we make.

What’s the biggest marketing lesson you’ve learned with M.Gemi?
The biggest lesson is how important creative assets and dynamic storytelling are. We are always testing, learning and continuing to evolve in every channel, to keep our content fresh for existing clients and potential new shoppers alike. Channel diversification is critical and that means finding creative ways to try a wide variety of different channels that reach our our customer, from paid digital to physical programming with Andiamo, our vintage gelato truck turned mobile pop-up.

Will brick and mortar be a more important part of the business in the future? Why or why not?
Physical touch points in key locations are essential to reaching the audience for high-touch, luxury products such as shoes. Where we differ from traditional retailers is in how we create that physical experience. When it comes to M.Gemi’s retail expansion, we think of each opportunity uniquely instead of a one-size-fits-all approach, so whether that’s a permanent fit shop, a short-term pop up, our Bloomingdale’s shop-in-shop, or our traveling pop-up Andiamo—we understand that flexibility in retail is an essential part of our business now and in the future.

Most importantly, we want to be able to meet our customers where they are and provide an experience that goes beyond just transactional. We want to create warm and welcoming environments that not only encourage trying on shoes, but that also bring the brand’s story to life and enable education around the Italian hand craftsmanship that makes M.Gemi so special.

@jcoopernyc james.cooper@adweek.com James Cooper is editorial director of Adweek.
Publish date: September 14, 2018 https://dev.adweek.com/brand-marketing/on-the-road-to-brandweek-m-gemi-president-cheryl-kaplan-discusses-creating-an-obsession-worthy-brand/ © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT