I wouldn’t say it is my favorite brand, but Pier 1 Imports does an excellent job of integrated marketing communication. I know this because I’ve been on both ends: I worked there for five years and am a consumer. I believe Pier 1 uses almost every channel of communication possible to reach their customers. During the holidays, this is especially the case.
I’ll start offline. Pier 1:
– features TV ads.
– features ads on the radio.
– sends out monthly mailers and, depending if you’re a frequent customer, coupons as well.
– has signs outside and inside the store indicating what sales and promotions are going on. The store is very meticulous about its signage. I used to work overnights just to mark the inventory to make it easier for our customers to know what was and was not on sale.
– keeps the sales team up-to-date with KPIs, specials, new products, etc. As a sales associate, I was always told to push the Pier 1 Rewards Card and its benefits. We had signs promoting the card throughout the store, but word of mouth marketing (WOMM) was sometimes more effective. We also had team meetings quite frequently when there were big events or changes taking place.
*The only offline-medium Pier 1 Imports doesn’t utilize is newspaper advertising, as far as I know. I’ve never seen an ad in my local newspaper or a magazine. This could be because print advertising revenue is declining every year, while conversely online revenue is increasing every year (The State of the News Media 2013). However, another source indicates that print marketing is still an effective method because “79% of households say they read or scan direct-mail ads” and “39% of customers say they try a business for the first time because of direct-mail advertising” (Morris, 2014). This could be why Pier 1 still sends out mailers to consumers. As a former sales associate, I did see many consumers come in with the mailer asking where a certain product was.*
And online, Pier 1:
– sends out daily emails highlighting different products/collections or informing customers about promotions.
– maintains its website daily to reflect in-store and online sales.
The website is not only easy to use as everything is categorized, but also very interactive. You can view the current catalog online and click on a product you are interested in, which will take you to that product’s page. Then you can either buy it online, have it shipped to a store, or find a store near you that has the product.
– updates its social media regularly (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ and YouTube).
From what I can see, Pier 1 tries to respond to each customer’s post on its wall, which I think is very important. When I worked there, I always tried to provide the best customer service. It is definitely much harder to provide this online, but Pier 1 seems to be doing a good job.
In my opinion, Pier 1 Imports uses IMC very effectively by taking advantage of mostly all media to reach consumers. Yet even more importantly, the company always has a consistent message across all platforms, online and offline. Its tagline is always “Find what speaks to you.” And in the commercials and mailers, the company often features one of its products talking to a consumer. The company has a product spokesperson rather than a celebrity.
Pier 1 Imports prides itself on its imported products that you can’t get anywhere else; therefore, they always make sure to highlight this. On its About page, the company says it is “the original global importer of imported decorative home furnishings and gifts.”
The company also has a page devoted to its history, so a customer can see the progression of the brand and company. In my opinion, the company appears to be very transparent about its goals and intentions.
I found this presentation below, which was done by students for their consumer behavior class. They did a case study of Pier 1 Imports, examining a customer’s in-store buying experience. I would agree with many of their points.
Source: Fraser, Zito & Torres, 2008
According to ZDNet’s Larry Dignan (2014), Pier 1 didn’t have such great quarterly earnings in 2014. To turn this around, the company is looking to pursue what it calls an “omni channel strategy,” to spend about 70 percent of its capital on e-commerce and the remaining dollars on stores, rather than its current 50-50 model. For the in-store portion, the company plans to introduce computers (when I worked there, it had one computer at the cash register for customers to use. So I guess they’re looking to add more.), tablets and swatch stations as well as make the brick-and-mortar stores more like showrooms for its website. Online, it will revamp the website to be more mobile-friendly and create a recommendation engine (I guess sort of like Amazon suggests products).
Overall, I think Pier 1 has been on the right track from the beginning in terms adapting to changing consumer behavior and technology, and it looks like it will continue to succeed as long as it is willing to make these changes without sacrificing the brand and loyal customers. I was with the company from 2008 to 2013, i.e., I witnessed a lot of the organization’s transitions to online. Pier 1 Imports is an excellent example of a company that uses integrated marketing communication to its fullest. It takes advantage of all the different platforms and maintains a consistent image on each. One suggestion I would make is to include the tagline, “Find what speaks to you,” more frequently. It’s not clearly stated on each platform, and since it is quite a few words, not short or quippy, showcasing it more would be helpful for the customer and also make it more memorable.