Pier 1 Imports’ Push + Pull

As I demonstrated in my post last week, Pier 1 Imports uses integrated marketing communication very well. The company also makes use of both push and pull marketing to stay engaged with its current customers and acquire new ones. Pier 1 has its own website to pull consumers to its stores as well as to its social media pages. The problem with the social buttons though is that the page doesn’t open in a new tab; it opens on the same webpage, which means you leave the Pier 1 Imports website.  I think this is poor design because you want customers to stay on your website as well as browse your social media.  In this class, we’re expected to have links open in new tabs and it seems like common sense, but I guess it’s not the norm.  If you’re interested in an item, you can also share it on your social media pages — if you have Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+.  Fortunately, three out of four of these buttons open in new pages.

Pier 1 Social

Screen Shot 2015-02-01 at 12.09.04 PM

Along with the social buttons at the bottom of the homepage (pictured above), you can sign up with your email address for the company’s mailer, sales notices and exclusive offers.  If you sign up, you are allowing Pier 1 to push you daily emails.  Another push technique Pier 1 employs is its monthly mailers.  You can either sign up in the store or on the website.  In the above graphic, under Pier 1 Catalog, you can Request a Copy by simply filling out your address and then the company will push a mailer to you.  Pier 1’s competitors — such as Pottery Barn — still send out mailers, which might be why Pier 1 continues to too.  Yet the mailers are highly effective and according to CEO Alex Smith last year, the company will not stop this marketing activity anytime soon:

As we move into the second half of the year and prepare for the all-important holiday season, we are also bolstering our marketing and promotional strategies to drive both store and web site traffic, conversion and average ticket, while reinforcing Pier 1 Imports’ competitive positioning. Our initiatives include additional circulation of our mailers and catalogs, new TV spots that feature fresh creative, new digital programs and a more aspirational brand message.”

If anything, the company will continue to increase circulation of mailers as the benefits seem to outweigh the costs because the mailers certainly drive customers to the stores and the website.  As I said last week, you can also view the catalog online and actually interact with it, which I think is incredible.  You can page through the digital version, click on the tag on the item you’re interested in and then it will bring you to the item’s page where you can either buy it online, find it in a store, or have the store reserve it for pick-up.  The process is so easy.  (After a simple search, I found Pottery Barn has the exact same feature!)

Pier 1 Catalog

The company also makes use of traditional push techniques to reach consumers by TV, radio ads and pay per click ads.  Here’s another ad Pier 1 ran for the holiday season 2014:

And of course in store is where a lot of push marketing takes place as well.  Interacting with sales associates who can tell you what’s on sale and products that would fit your needs is a priceless form of marketing.  Also at checkout, before a sales associate rings you up, he or she is prompted to ask for your phone number and email address.  Pier 1 won’t call you, but we were told it was just to see where our customers are coming from based on area code.  Email was captured so that customers could receive our daily emails and notifications about promotions and sales.

The company also uses its social networking websites to pull in customers.  Pier 1 posts at least once a day on its Facebook and Twitter pages, providing fresh content such as company updates (the latest was the winners of its UNICEF competition) and deals for customers to use on the website and in stores. If you click on the deal, you consent to receive an email from FB via the company, instructing you how to take advantage of that offer.  Below is the FB post and then the email I received when I clicked on the Get Offer button.  It’s funny: Facebook knows my recent search history because when I first signed onto FB this morning, Pier 1 was one of the first ads that came up.  Crazy.  Social media is great for WOMM — it’s priceless and easy — because consumers can be your spokespeople (albeit potentially your worst enemies too).  They can refer your company to their friends and tell them about their great experience with your company.

Pier 1 FB Post

Pier 1 FB Post

Pier 1 Email

Pier 1 Email

Pier 1 does not have a blog, but it is mobile friendly.  Surprisingly, the company doesn’t have its own app, and the CEO did not include an app in the company’s improvements.  The mobile site is fairly easy to use though.  The main buttons at the top allow you to find your closest Pier 1, create an account or sign into your current one, contact the company, and edit your basket or checkout.  These are all functions that would ultimately result in a push technique.

Pier 1 Mobile

Pier 1 Mobile

You can also view the desktop site, but I find the mobile site easier to navigate with such a small screen.  If you do want to use the desktop site, a push notification comes up asking you to enter your email address to subscribe to Pier 1 emails.  One thing I found amiss about the mobile site is that on the homepage, there are no social buttons.  Only when you clicked on a specific item were there social buttons to share on your SNS.

Sorry, this is a bit of a repeat from last week (guess I got a little carried away), but Pier 1 Imports should make users more aware of its mission and create a singular message to strengthen its brand and IMC.  On Wikipedia, it says the slogan is “It’s your thing,” but I’ve never seen or heard this on any of Pier 1’s marketing.  Its tagline is “Find what speaks to you” and I honestly think the company can do better, come up with something more memorable.  Perhaps something like “Expierience the world,” as this incorporates the company’s name as well as includes its mission to remain “the original global importer of imported decorative home furnishings and gifts.”

I think Pier 1 should continue to send out mailers and advertise on TV and radio.  A majority of Pier 1 consumers are older women and, although this demographic is now logged on, I think the best way to reach them is still through traditional media.  And then of course, social media is a great way to reach the younger demographic, especially with posts that offer deals.  Pier 1 does do a great job of maintaining a consistent image across all media, but it should work on its message, as I have explained above.  We saw in lecture this week that Amazon and Target do a great job of maintaining their brands; we would recognize the logo anywhere (Rhoads, 2015).  Pier 1 has a much smaller market, but I think maintains its brand well so that its consumers know that an advertisement is from Pier 1.

The problems I found with Pier 1 online tended to be with its social media: the pages didn’t open into new tabs and the mobile site didn’t have social buttons on the homepage.  The mobile site is still relatively new and I’m sure will improve as time passes once the company analyzes its performance, but those social buttons should be present.  On its website, making the SNS open into new tabs is an easy, but necessary fix to keep customers on your page.  Once they’re on FB, Twitter or any of the other sites, you’ve lost them.


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