HONG KONG: A drive for more effective data and a deeper understanding of its customers has helped American Apparel make changes to its business, a senior marketer at the company has revealed.

Thoryn Stephens, Chief Digital Officer at American Apparel, addressed this topic at the recent ClickZ conference in Hong Kong.

He explained the value that 'anonymous' users in their database have for the fashion retailer in Hong Kong and how the brand re-targets these users to drive them into becoming 'known' users. (For more, including details of the brand's customer-centric approach, read Warc's exclusive report: American Apparel makes big data work.)

Having established an identity – perhaps through a purchase, downloading an app or registering for an event – the brand is then able to relentlessly optimize its retargeting experience, becoming more customer-centric as the data profile moves from unknown to known.

"You start pulling in geolocation data, behavioral data, and ultimately you can drive the most value from them not only as a consumer, but actually as a brand as well, because you're tailoring the experience to that known user individual," said Stephens.

"In the anonymous space, you can start doing retargeting using site experience. You can do retargeting using ads. Then as (the user becomes known) it opens up to a number of consumer touchpoints, such as apps, push notifications, in-app messages, SMS and email," he explained.

Customer centricity is a major theme of American Apparel's data initiatives: focusing on the current and future needs of a select set of customers to maximize long-term value.

"Fundamentally, it's the 80/20 rule," Stephens observed. "You're focusing on maybe 20% of your customers that are driving 80% of your revenue."

The focus on data has also saved the company money: through analysing realized customer value, it was able to identify that the brand's liberal exchange and return policy was bleeding the company dry. The company tightened their return policies in response to the insight.

"It helped us to immediately change our shipping and exchange policies, allowed us to drive additional savings to the business, and ultimately longer value for the customers as well," Stephens stated.

Data sourced from Warc