Because Jenna Told Me To…

Jenna's Picks | Chute Gerdeman - award-winning retail design and branding.

Because Jenna Told Me To…

Because Jenna Told Me To… 350 333 Chute Gerdeman

Everyone needs a little advice sometimes. Who do you turn to? Family? Friends? Co-workers? The archives of Ann Landers? Well, how about Jenna, Lisa, and Rachel?

Let’s start with Jenna, who is actually Jenna Lyons, Creative Director of J.Crew and driving force behind their recent soaring success. She’s also the brains behind “Jenna’s Picks,” a regular feature on their website, in catalogs, and in stores. “Jenna’s Picks” highlights her top items sold by the brand with a little insight on why she picked her current collection of goodies and how you should wear them.

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Recently, we noticed a similar feature pop up from competitor Ann Taylor, entitled “Lisa Loves.” Lisa, too, is a real person, much like Lyons. Lisa Axelson, the brand’s head designer, now spotlights her favorite ensemble choices paired with a little bit of inspiration. Unlike J.Crew’s feature that usually highlights merchandise only, Ann Taylor adds their own twist by creating an inspiration board with merchandise, fabric swatches, and images.

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Next, there’s Rachel. Rachel Zoe, celebrity stylist and Bravo television star, has been selecting her favorite shoes & handbags for Piperlime longer than both Jenna and Lisa have been telling us what to wear. From her top five trends for the season to her favorite knee-high boots, Rachel’s been holding our hand and helping us pick out the hottest accessories, allowing us to feel confident in our choices.

In a time where our economy is less than stellar and recreational shopping isn’t everyone’s favorite activity, providing an editorial voice with educational tips is a clever little strategy. Not only does it turn everyday merchandise into exciting eye-candy, but it gives retailers a reason to toot their horn about a seemingly insignificant but very important $15 ring. And suddenly you, the customer, have a need you didn’t know existed. You start seeing the merchandise in a new light and adapt your style to coordinate. And suddenly you start to feel attached to Jenna/Lisa/Rachel, entrusting them with your apparel choices and dollars being spent. Standing in front of your closet and you have no idea what to wear? WWJD has a whole new meaning—What Would Jenna Do? How would Lisa accessorize this top? What shoes would Rachel tell you to wear? Not only has the retailer created necessary items, but they’ve increased brand loyalty. Very smart move! Other brands we’ve seen with similar features are Coach and Liz Claiborne New York.

In the cases where there’s no official face for the brand or voice of editorial reason, many stores feature staff or store favorites. Madewell, a J.Crew brand, features a rack of staff picks. Banana Republic, a Gap Inc. retailer like Piperlime, features their Top 5 Work Essentials, brilliantly assigning each essential with a number that then helps you find that item in the space. The Limited features their monthly Top 10, which ensures that collection is never stale. Another smart move from The Limited? Featuring looks according to day parts–a rack for “Going Out,” a rack for “Getaway,” or a rack for “Daytime.”

Some subtle, friendly suggestions go a long way. And shoppers can consider Jenna or Lisa or Rachel as their own personal stylist. It’s a win/win for the customer and for the brand.

PS: for a fun article on what’s in Jenna’s office, go here.

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