AI and Adore Me in the Age of #MeToo
Over-the-top sexy is not a well-received message in the age of the #MeToo movement and it is forcing women’s apparel retailers to re-examine the way they depict women and clothing. So, how is an intimate-apparel brand like Adore Me, which competes in the same retail category as super sexy and super successful Victoria’s Secret, going to respond?
Actually, Adore Me hasn't had to directly respond to the #MeToo movement by making major changes. The reason is that when it launched in 2012 it intentionally positioned itself as a disruptor to the Victoria’s Secret playbook, which was the poster child for the over-the-top sexy brand image.
From day one, Adore Me positioned its products for real women, as opposed to Angels, who wanted intimate apparel that was both high quality and affordable. Instead of selling primarily through stores, Adore Me is a direct-to-customer retailer that offers products to members through a subscription-based model.
This approach has proven to be a runaway success and over the last few years Adore Me has been cited as among the fastest-growing companies in the country by Inc. magazine and Crain’s New York.
Recently, Adore Me has shifted gears and begun opening brick-and-mortar stores even as many other retailers are closing them. Current plans call for opening 200 stores in the next five years.
Playing a big role in Adore Me’s expansion plans is a savvy use of artificial intelligence (AI) to get a deeper understanding of its members likes and dislikes and then leveraging the insights to identify opportunities for improving the customer experience and driving conversions.
Listening to Shoppers
Nicholas Capuono, vice president customer engagement at Adore Me, believes one of the big secrets to Adore Me’s success is in listening to customers. Capuono uses an AI platform by Yotpo to automate this effort. The platform analyzes shopper feedback, determines what matters most to customers, and then the Adore Me team uses the insight to inform product, marketing and business initiatives.
“We analyze customer sentiment data by category, by product and by customer, both new and existing customers, which can provide different results,” says Capuono. “We then get actionable insights at a granular level that enables us to promote differently to shopper groups, such as new or existing customers, for example.”
One element of Adore Me’s distinctive business model is to break out of offering seasonal collections of its intimate, athletic wear and swimwear lines. Instead, Adore Me launches a new collection every month and these launches rely heavily on insights provided by the AI platform.
“We launched the AI platform last year and use it to both target and engage our customers by offering them the right product at the right price,” says Capuono. “For example, when we launched a swimwear collection in the spring we used sentiment analysis from Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms to help us determine the right designs, cut and fit as well as to inform all the photos we use on the website and promotional content we create.”
Today, Adore Me has one store in the New York area and plans to open five to six by the end of the year, according to Capuono. With plans to open another 200 stores over the next five years, Adore Me will need to rely on the strength of its disruptive business model and loyalty of its customer base.
In addition, it will also have to continue to leverage insights from its AI platform – augmented by human intelligence – that will enable it to stay relevant to the shifting demands of customers and a step ahead of competitors and fashion trends.