#236: David’s Bridal - The World's First "Crowdsourced " Loyalty Program

David’s Bridal is a US-based retailer that specializes in wedding gowns, prom gowns and formal wear, and offers an extraordinary collection of beautiful outfits for all of life’s magical moments.

Already operating over 300 store locations in various countries as well as online, in 2020, David’s Bridal stores created an industry first with the launch of their Diamond loyalty program, designed to leverage the buying power of the bride’s family and friends to help the happy couple earn a honeymoon of their dreams!

Kelly Cook, EVP, Chief Marketing and IT Officer for David’s Bridal, joins us on this episode to explain this genius idea, the insights that inspired it and its incredible performance so far.

Show Notes:
  1. David’s Bridal
  2. Diamond Loyalty
  3. Kelly Cook

Audio Transcript

Welcome to Let’s Talk Loyalty an industry podcast for loyalty marketing professionals. I’m your host, Paula Thomas, and if you work in loyalty marketing, join me every week to learn the latest ideas from loyalty specialists around the world.


This episode is sponsored by Epsilon. Today, I’m delighted to announce a unique opportunity for one lucky listener of Let’s Talk Loyalty to enjoy a complimentary workshop with the loyalty experts at Epsilon one brand every month, we’ll have the chance for a unique, independent loyalty lab. A review of your loyalty program where Epsilon will share their expert ideas, how to drive your program’s performance to a whole new level. This workshop is a powerful way for you to measure and then increase the return on your investment in your loyalty program. So to apply. Head over to letstalkloyalty.com/epsilon and enter your details.


Hello and welcome to this episode of Let’s Talk Loyalty featuring perhaps the most unexpected program that we have met so far. David’s Bridal began in 1950 as a single Florida bridal store. And the company has since grown into an international destination for weddings, proms, and all of life’s biggest and most beautiful occasions. David’s Bridal now operates over 300 stores across the us, UK, Canada, Mexico, and online. And in 2020, they launched a loyalty program called Diamond, with a truly extraordinary intention of blowing the bride’s mind. It works by leveraging the spending power of the bride’s family and friends to help her and her new husband earn offers and rewards from their exclusive wedding partner. With the ultimate opportunity for them to earn a free honeymoon, what a gorgeous customer proposition and promise for any bride. as EVP, Chief Marketing and IT Officer for David’s bridal, Kelly Cook and her team are the brains behind this genius idea. Creating what she believes to be the world’s first crowdsourced loyalty program. With my own love of insights that lead to loyalty innovation. I think you’ll agree that David’s Bridal is truly an exceptional case study and a loyalty program that’s full of joy, customer love, and integrity. I hope you enjoy my conversation with Kelly Cook as much as I did.


So Kelly joining me from David’s Bridal in the United States. Welcome to Let’s Talk Loyalty. 


Thank you, Paula. It’s wonderful to be here. I’m so excited to talk to you. 


Oh, I’m so excited to talk to you, Kelly. I think, you know, when I saw this program first announced, I think like most people, I was quite confused.


I expect nothing less. No worries, I got you.


You got us, absolutely. So our listeners all over the world are going to be dying to hear exactly why loyalty program makes such brilliant sense for a bridal business. So before we get into that, Kelly, I know. Super passionate about anything to do with loyalty. So I’m going to start with my favorite opening question. So please tell me one or more of your favorite loyalty programs.  


You’re so sweet. Thanks for saying and more too, because you’re, I do have quite a few that I love. I was looking at my app and, and, and realizing that I have quite a few on my phone. So I’ll, I’ll be quick, Paula, but my first one ia a small little company in Texas called Hippie Cowgirl Couture. And I know you’re like hippie, what girl? White. White. And then you added couture. Yes. I loved them because the owner of the business does all of her own content with her team and the deals are fantastic, but the whole attitude and vibe is really, really fun, and It seems like every time she’s targeting me with content, it’s something that I want. And I just love the whole vibe of the program. Um, my second one is Flixster app. I love the Flixster loyalty program. It’s an app that I used to buy all my movie tickets and I love it because I can go watch any movie trailer out there. I can read all about the movie ahead of time. I can buy my tickets. They give me free drinks and free popcorn because I’m a. I’m a popcorn connoisseur. Uh, but I love Flixster, it’s just an easy, easy app and it’s just so easy because I get my barcode. I can walk right into the movie theater and not have to stand in line. So Flixster is very, very good. And then the other three are probably the traditional ones. So four is following my third, uh, because I love all the little free gifts and then Duncan and Chick-fil-A are all tied for one through five and tied for first place. But there’s five of them. 


Wow. Wow. That is an awesome list. And I’m always looking for inspiration Kelly for new people to interview. So here we go. 


Oh, there you go. Well, you could tell the young lady that owns tippy cowgirl that you heard about her all the way from Dubai.


I totally will. Kelly and I have a friend and she’s in Texas and I bet you, she is just going to go straight shopping there. So. She’s probably already got a new customer just by you mentioning that Kelly, it’s generous.


Great, great. But, but genuinely Kelly, I suppose what I love about what you said there is, you know, the role of content as a loyalty driver, because I think that is something that, you know, in most industries is probably only beginning to be appreciated and respected and developed. So now I’m guessing as a bridal business, I’m sure you’re exactly doing the same, but I do think it’s fairly early days for content to be seen as a driver of loyalty, which would you say? 


I absolutely agree with you, Paula, and it’s so fascinating because it absolutely is a core part of diamond program here. You know, it was, it was really sort of three things that sort of started this whole things of discussion arrived. People were like, why is there a loyalty program in the bridal business? They’re going to get married 12 times and be loyal. And I just thought it was so funny at the beginning, but it actually is as simpler and cooler than that, it started by a couple of things. One was, we found out in our research that 62% of women that go to a wedding actually go attend a wedding, were buying something new to wear they don’t want to buy something in their closet, so, or wear something in their closet. So that was interesting to us. We thought, wow, you know, three, four, or two-thirds, I guess. So the people that are attending weddings are going to buy something new to wear in the wedding. And then we had one other sort of interesting thing. I was asking my team in a meeting. And I said, if we were going to blow the bride’s mind, we know that she’s stressed. We know that she’s overwhelmed. If we were just going to blow their mind, what would we do for her? And somebody on my team said, Well, why don’t we just give them the honeymoon for free? Because that way they don’t have to worry about that. And that’s just like this big, expensive thing that is sitting out there, which was really, really interesting. And then the third thing that happened was we found out from our brides store research and the pro report, that video content is their favorite kind of content. It’s emotional, it’s moving, It’s passionate. And so part of the Diamond Program is we launched a 24/7, 365 live channel on YouTube. That is nothing but wedding videos, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

And so you’re call out. Yeah, you’re call about the content is spot on Paula, especially in our business. And we probably have it slightly better and easier than some of my friends out in the world that are doing loyalty programs because our entire business is content-related because it’s a wedding event. Right. So, um, and by the way, every single video on our YouTube channel was, is UGC. We haven’t paid for anything. 


Oh my goodness. Yes. User-generated content. Yeah. That’s amazing. Wow. Yeah. And I briefly looked at that actually Kelly, before we came on to record, I didn’t realize it was 24/7/365. And when we’re finished this conversation, you’re going to have to tell me how to contribute because as you know, I am getting married in July.


Yes! I want your wedding video on there, Please! Please! Please! Yes, love it.


Yeah. What a fun idea. That is super cool. Super cool. Well, I’m going to be even more hyperactive, I think now, after talking to you, because I’m literally on the nine-week countdown. So for people listening to the show, they probably don’t know about that. But um, but I guess, I mean, from a purely professional point of view, it, it does make so much sense. And the last time we met Kelly, what I loved, you used a words that I’ve never heard before. And I think you’re absolutely right that this has become a crowdsource loyalty program because essentially what you’re leveraging is the power of the bride’s relationships with her guests, with her bridesmaids, with her family, to help encourage them to help her get a free honeymoon for herself. It’s just, unbelievable.


Uh, thank you. You’re absolutely right. And that data point around 62% are buying new dresses to wear to an event we thought, well, wow. What if the bride got credit for that? Like what if the bride got the credit for the mother? The groom, the mother’s the bride, the flower girl, the bridesmaid, the grandmothers and all of their wedding guests. And that’s basically you’re right. It’s a Diamond is a crowdsource loyalty program. That’s the only one I know of. There could be one out there in the world, but I haven’t heard of it before. And it’s extraordinary because she actually goes to our website and she prints out, and her invitations, this beautifully designed little memo card that goes in her wedding invitations. And it says, Hey, you know, me and my, like, my husband’s name is Damon. Damon and I are part of the David’s Bridal loyalty program, Diamond, used this loyalty number when you check out to buy something to wear to the wedding, because we’re trying to get a free honeymoon. And, you know, they, the, the women that are winning in the honeymoon, I mean, they’re average, they’re average, uh, gown purchasers are like in the, you know, twenties to thirties, depending on which honeymoon it is, you know? And so it’s, it’s, it is being used. Um, and that’s just the occasion, dresses, not the bridesmaid’s dresses. That was just the occasion dresses. So it is working for the women that are winning the honeymoons for sure. 


Oh my God. So yeah, I mean, I’m super envious. I think I said to you off air as well, Kelly, I wish I was a US bride in some ways, so I could come and play, play the game, and joined the Diamond Program.


Well, we’re going to have to get you a, an honorary membership and send you some goodies to Ireland for your wedding. 


Thank you. Thank you. So tell us just, I suppose, the journey Kelly. So I love the insights that you’ve mentioned, the data point, first and foremost, and I love the simplicity of it as well, Kelly, because I think at the end of the day, the reason that I don’t tend to be am I suppose, strong on the data side individually, like personally is sometimes I get overwhelmed with how much data can come out of a loyalty program. So you’ve narrowed it down to one, you know, laser-focused insights in, I suppose, where the commercial opportunity lies. So from that to launching the Diamond Program, which again, beautiful, a simple name. What was that journey like in terms of, did you find it complex internally, for example, to convince the senior leadership team that this was a good idea to the point that we started with about this being quite an unexpected idea. So how did the idea land when you first approached us with the leadership? 


That is such an awesome question, Paula. You’re the first person that’s ever asked me that, and I love, I love, well, that just tells me how insightful you are, about how you know it is. Um, you don’t just, they don’t just appear like you have to go through a process internally and you have to have a relationship with the CFO and the CEO, and you have to walk them through along that journey with you. It’s just such an insightful question. What I will tell you is that Jo, I loved Jamar, He was amazing. He calls me as unguided missile. So let’s start there just so you know, that’s how he thinks of me. So it’s a very, it’s a very sweet, uh, nurturing, uh, nickname. But, um, it was interesting. I did not come to our ELT. We have an ELT operations meeting every Wednesday for a few hours. So we talk about operations of the business. I didn’t go to my colleagues and friends at the ELT level immediately with the whole idea. What I started doing internally, um, is saying we don’t have a, a mechanism. To incentivize the bride on all the purchases associated with her wedding. She has no incentive. So I started there and I kept sort of repeating that over and over saying, we need a mechanism where she’s rewarded. Yeah, because we know that people are buying things to come to her wedding. We know they’re buying something new because they don’t want to wear in the puzzle. So I started socializing it that way at the ELT level simultaneously, I have a girl on my team who runs our performance management team. She runs sort of a budget, analytics, Insights and, and data management. And I had her start to build out the business model for the entire program because I needed to see what was the incrementality rate, how much more would people need to buy to in order to fund the program? What would the points value be? What were the reward tiers? So all the economical mechanics of the program, I had her start to build that out. So then once I had a view of that, and then I had a view of the tears and I knew financially what we needed to do to succeed, because I think that is a very critical part of people in my role, coming to the table. If you don’t start with the financial economics and the insight, it can start with. It can start to feel like, oh, what’s marketing doing now. Like it started this like how fluffy little thing and what, you know, what I did is I, you know, I, we built the financial model. Then I came to Jim and I said, Jim, we have a big idea here. The big, here’s why here’s the why behind it. Right. Here’s the insight we knew, which was the 62%. Uh, we knew that she was overwhelmed. We knew that the honeymoon is like the big reveal for her, where she can just relax and everything. And then when I brought it to the ELT level, uh, and, and position it to my colleagues, everybody was extremely supportive and there were a few other reasons why there was low risk, because the program itself actually didn’t cost us a lot of money, Paula. And the reason why is I have another division that reports to me with just partnerships and business development, and we’ve got partnerships from all along her journey, we’ve got an amazing partnership with the Blk Tux for tuxedos. We have Shutterfly for invitations. We have, you know, makeup companies, cosmetic company, like we have over 250 partners. Well, the partners in exchange for marketing to our brides, we’re actually providing the rewards to us complimentary. I didn’t have, I didn’t have to spend the money on the rewards side of the tiers. So for example, if we go and she wins, she gets 3000 points. Part of what she wins that is free for that reward is for free eight by 10 prints from our partner Shutterfly. So Shutterfly is getting business and access to the bride. And in exchange for that, our bride gets free product. But what our partners are telling us is they’re not just getting the free product and walking away. They’re actually buying more. So our, we have a wonderful partnership with Sandals Resort, uh, by the way, Sandals Jamaica is our favorite, um, brides location. If you want that little tidbit of information, that is by far their favorite, when we’re given, um, you know, three nights and four day honeymoon for free as a part of Diamond, but they’re saying 7, 8, 9, 10 days. So Sandals is still getting some financial value from the free honeymoon. So that made the economics very, very nice for our side. So when I took it to the CFO and I took it to the CEO, it’s like, there’s very little downside risk. There’s only. We had a double digit million dollar incrementality upside to the program. And I actually think it was because of the low risk that they said yes, not that they necessarily thought it was gonna work or basic stuff, to be honest with you because nobody’s ever done it before Paula, to your point. Now it’s turned out to be, you know, just incredibly successful, not because of us but because of the customers, they keep us in fact, they tell us what we do, right. They tell us what we do wrong. Um, and we’re, I think 1.65 million bride, you know, customers in, and the program is 15 months old, 16 months old. So that’s one of the journey. 


It’s an awesome journey. I had no idea you’d reached such scale already Kelly. 


Yes. We’ve had about 200 people win free honeymoons and what’s so amazing Paula is so awesome. You know, some of them are taking honeymoons for themselves. Some are giving them to their parents as a thank you gift for funding the wedding. We had one, one lady that came in and by the way, you get the free honeymoon slash trip, regardless if it is a bride or not.

So we had a young lady who was sponsoring a program at her local school district to provide prom dresses for underprivileged teenagers. And so they bought all these prom dresses. We gave them a discounted rate, but it was over $5,000. So they got the free trip and they gave it to the lady that just sponsored the entire events. There’s just these beautiful moments happening with the whole program that make us just so proud. We’re so proud to serve her all that.


My goodness. And you quoted a wonderful statistic last time as well. Kelly, when we spoke about the bride with an unbelievable number of bridesmaids.


You’re right Paula. Yeah. So she is located in Louisiana in the United States. Um, she had 32 bridesmaids, um, and we are pretty sure she’s from LSU, um, because the colors were purple and gold. And so we, we think that she might be an LSU grad, but yeah. It was wonderful. I can’t disclose her name, but yeah, she had 30 to 32 bridesmaids. We were like, you go! go! 


That is brilliant. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I, I mean, I have five and I’m already like going, oh my God, that’s a lot on a tiny little alter, but what fun? I have to say, Kelly, like you, you obviously love your industry. It’s super inspiring. And I do love the breadth of what you offer as well. Because again, I think, you know, as a company name, David’s Bridal would suggest that you literally just have brides dresses for themselves. And there’s also a wonderful statistic. I want you to share on that piece in terms of your inventory, but the fact that you do do everything across the whole bridal party and all formal wear occasions, as you said, whether it’s family or friends, like an extraordinary range of people, and I didn’t know about the 250 partners until you mentioned it just now.


We do we have, we have a wonderful list of partners because remember the insight at the beginning too, Paula is I’m, you know, the bride’s thinking is you know, I’m very stressed. Yes, I’m very overwhelmed. I’m trying to stretch my budget. I’m trying to get as much out of my budget as I can. So that insight we’re always chasing that. Like we’re always chasing how, how can we de-stress her? you know, free prints from our Shutterfly partner. How amazing is that? Um, you know, free exercise gear, or, you know, free, we just launched a. It’s a partnership with Mally Beauty. Why? Because Mally Beauty has an, had an exclusive wedding kit for touch-ups for the day of the bride, you know, skin care bronzers and all. So we’re because she wants to be able to be tan in some cases. So it we’re always chasing that for her. And we’re always wanting to give her more and more and more value. 


Yeah. And also what I want to just pick up on though, is your, your point about, um, you know, the, the power of those partnerships, Kelly, the strength of them and the fact that it’s driving their businesses as well, because I think, you know, I’ve been lucky enough that that’s the one part of loyalty I did really really well, I will say so I might can’t do data, or I might can’t do Cobra and cards, but I did do partnerships. So like you, I found the potential of what I did here referred to as other people’s money, in fact, so it’s essentially a partner-funded program, but also where that partner has the upsell, the cross-sell and the added value of targeting the David’s Bridal community is just a wonderful, shared objective that benefits, as you said, the stress brides who is under financial pressure, probably more than any other time in their life, but actually, the value of your community means it’s an extraordinary way to bring all of those stakeholders together. And at such scale, I will say 250 must be a huge amount of work for your team to pull together. 


Yeah, they’re a wonderful team. And you said something that’s really smart. And I, I just want to, I want to overemphasize how smart that is. We start from a position with our partners of what objectives do you have? What is your growth strategy as a business? You know? And then we start coming together on how we can both in reciprocity grow our businesses. It always starts from that angle as much as it starts with, does this company fit into the bridal journey and that, you know, there’s times where, you know, we’ve tested a couple of partnerships that don’t really fit within our journey and you know, it D you know, the brides votes on it, to be honest, Paula, she’ll let us know if you’re on the right track or not, and, um, and we’ve learned a lot of lessons, but we’re, we’re so very grateful for the partners that we had because they re they really drive a comprehensive value proposition for her along the journey, not just for the sell of the dress. 


Yeah. Yeah. And you’re absolutely right. Kelly, to, to make that point about partnerships. I think the number one criteria is the relevance. And again, I think it’s probably super easy for you guys to define that with exceptional clarity, but also what I learned. And I don’t know if you have this experience but the brand’s value as in the partner’s brand value was also extremely important as well. Like there’s almost an opportunity to have like a halo effect. If you can partner with some of the biggest brands in the industry, like you mentioned Shutterfly, for example. So. Brands that people respect and already want to do business with. And then you’re facilitating an exclusive offer that they wouldn’t get as one single consumer or one single bride is again, just brings everybody’s objectives together to one wonderful solution.


Yeah, it’s such, it’s so true because you know, the one thing that our partners have done is that they have provided Diamond Member Pricing to our Diamond Members. So not just the deals, all of it, they get exclusive pricing as well. So just phenomenal partners again. So proud of them, you know, it’s, it’s, you know, we’ve got naked wine and we have, we have just so many clients or partners that are willing to, um, To, um, provide incremental value to them. So. Wonderful.


Wonderful. And just the final one on that piece. Kelly, did they understand and get it straight away as a community? I guess, of, of merchants because, you know, my, my experience was a long time ago, so I guess 2010, 2011, I was starting to negotiate them and for telecoms brand. So it wouldn’t have been a business model that was well known or understood. But I’m guessing in the US in 2022, am I right in saying that once you created that, I suppose, channel for them and, you know, explained to the upside, did they get that proposition for themselves straightaway? 


Th they did, but we also had to earn it too though, Paula, because there was a, there was a shift I’ve been at David’s for two years and prior to me getting here, we’ve, we’ve had a partnerships organization for about 10 years before I got here. Um, and a lot of the partnerships we had were sort of what I would call brand awareness building. So they would give us money and then we would, you know, churn out all this content for them. To our, to our brides, but the shift that happened rightfully so it should have is a paper performance. So when we have to earn those commissions by serving our partners in a way that allows the bride to vote yes. On them. And I liked that because it keeps us focused. It keeps us, you know, a chance, you know, focused on growing their business as well as ours. But in serving the bride in a way that’s not spammy, you don’t want to throw all this content to them, that’s not relevant. And you use the relevant word, which I think is, is exactly the right word, but we have to earn our way. But one of the things that we’re finding though, Paula is one of the partners that we’re about to sign this week. He spends 16% of his sales on marketing. One six. Wow. Right. He’s a pure play retailer and we are going to through our program, he’s going to be at 3%. So you can see right there, he’s got this massive efficiency play. Plus he’s got this growth engine because 92% of all brides interact with David’s Bridal, at least one. Well, so we’ve got, we’ve got all that natural traffic and about half of those brides come to us first. Uh, and we, you know, we, we honor that and we, we wanna, we wanna do we wanna sort of earn that right to stay at that level of brand awareness. So we have, again, a lot of, uh, not to repeat myself, but a lot of great partners that help us do that. But we start with, and as I mentioned, he was his, when I asked him the question, what are you trying to achieve within your business? He goes, I need to get my marketing costs down and in to grow scale. I’m like, okay, let’s start there. And then you go back and forth til you get it right. And, um, so it’s a, it’s a wonderful privilege and an honor to be able to support her that way through our partners. 


Super super. And I’m guessing along the way, Kelly, there’s probably been a few mistakes made. Um, you did allude to the fact that partnerships weren’t working in the previous model and that obviously had to be reinvented. So, you know, along the journey, in terms of launching the Diamond Program, I think you had said there were a couple of things that, uh, were mistakes. So I’d love to get your insights and expertise. 


That’s the good thing about our customers. When you ask them, they’ll tell you, I love that about our jobs. It’s the best part. Well, let me start with what they loved. They loved the fact that they, they love the free honeymoon. They love that it’s free and they love that it was a free and coupons, and then they loved it was crowdsourced. So those were the three. So we knew we were on the right track, but we had some mistakes. One is because it’s crowdsourced just like you, Paula. If your bridesmaids comes to David’s. And says I’m in Paula’s wedding are, are all a stylist will go. That’s awesome. Paula is going to get points for your wedding or for her wedding, with your bridesmaid’s purchase. The problem is you get points, your bridesmaids doesn’t. Ooh. And so what they told us was no, no, no, no. I’ll give Paula points, but I want points too. Um, so, and, and the reason why is we’ve got. Um, I, I read a stat this weekend through the pro report that our bridesmaids are in the ones that are bridesmaids during an average of three weddings. So if she’s in three weddings, those are three weddings that she got zero points for. So she wants to point. So we’re going to be rolling out that this year that she wants, the bridal party will get points as an addition to the bride. 


So, okay. Yeah, that’s a big learning. I can imagine having learning. Yeah.


Yeah. I often think it’s the same, even with charity propositions Kelly, because you know, everybody, I think when we’re at a proposition stage of designing loyalty strategies, it’s always a wonderful feel-good factor to say yes, if you know, your member earns points, they can donate them to a particular charity of their choice or your choice. And I think it takes a big box in terms of the emotional loyalty piece. But my experience is in every single case that that has happened when the program went live, what happened? No, the points didn’t really go to charity. The member actually did want to earn those points for his or herself. So I’m not surprised you had that learning and. And I’m glad you got the clarity along the way. So again, with all of the, you know, hopefully, you know, huge upsell, you know, financial economics that seemed to be coming through there’s enough in it to make us rich enough for both parties. 


Yes that yeah. Very, very well said. Yeah, they will definitely tell you when you, when you make a mistake, we also learned that 3000 points is too low. They want to earn free step at 1000 points. So obviously, as you can imagine, that affects the financial model. So we’re working through that now. Right? So we’re, I mean, it’s a different, it’s a different economic set of economics. And then the third thing they told us, which I it’s just, it’s a mistake, but it’s also a good guy in disguise. Is, they said, give me, I want to get Diamond Points for my tuxedo purchases. I want Diamond Points for the floral purchase and the DJ and the band and the food, because this is for my whole wedding. Yeah, why can’t I get points for everything. So we’re working on that as well right now. So we’ll, we’ll have all of that launched by the end of the year.


Oh my goodness. Wow. So it feels like you’re only getting started. Kelly, remind me, when did you launch the Diamond Program? 


We launched it not last December, but the December before that it was December 8th, 2020. 


Okay. And can I ask, did you build your tech in house or did you go out to the market to, to get an existing loyalty solution? You don’t have to name any names, but just, curious.


No, oh, that’d be a really good question. I actually get that question all the time and I always get the same sort of reaction. It was 100% built in-house. Wow. And, and we did, uh, we did, uh, the only exception of that is we did a deal with pop wallet who, who got bought by snap recently. Okay. Cause we wanted Diamond to be 100% digital and they had a digital wallet solution where she could keep all her coupons, her offers her reward levels, and all of that. Um, but you know what? It was interesting, Paula?  And I haven’t really shared this before, but when I, when I started thinking about the idea coming out of that one meeting, where we were, I ideating on, you know, what do we do to blow the brides mind? I actually went out to a small boutique agency to see, you know, if you were going to do this idea, how, how would you do it? How do you think about it? Because we were, you know, we were in the middle of COVID when we built this program and when we were opening and closing stores and we had to, you know, rift and hire-rehire 12,000 people in a span of 90 days. And then we had like, cause I’ll remember all the stuff that was happening and so I, I asked this agency for their, for their thoughts. But you know what though? And, and I, I doubt this is typical for all agencies. Cause I, I, there are some that aren’t like this in Boston, New York, who’s run by a girl named Laura Mann. And I says, it like this at all. They are innovative thinkers and they, you know, they’ll, they never backed down from a challenge. But this particular boutique agency, I reached out to what I got back was, was so predictable and utilitarian and pedestrian. It, it just, it wasn’t, they didn’t. Th this was a new idea, it had never been done in our industry, but they took sort of the same old, um, I don’t want to use an example because I don’t want to, I don’t want them. I know what you mean, but they hadn’t thought about it really. And so I, I came back to the team. I’m like, you know what? We’re going to do this ourselves because we know our customer, we know our journey, we know our industry. We’ve got, we can partner with Pop wallet and we did. And so we, you know, we’ve never looked back and, um, uh, you know, we, we feel really good about where we are, but. When we do need help. And sometimes there is help, not particularly with Diamond, but another things that I’ve needed help with the CMIO here. You know, somebody like crevasse has been fantastic. And I love agencies that, like, we don’t have an AOR. I’m not a fan of AORs. I don’t think AOR’s are the right thing. It’s like, What’s an AOR and it’s like, you’re an agency. Cool. Because I want us to be more specific and targeted and surgical about the initiatives that we do drive in marketing. And that’s why I do love companies like Havas and Trip because they are solving one problem at a time for us. They’re not trying to get this gigantic. You know, AOR contract, it doesn’t really work for me in, and it doesn’t work for David’s. There’s some brands I can see, you know, Budweiser and some of my other friends out there that it makes sense to, but, but not a, so I think these agencies that really try to solve one problem at a time for you and think innovatively and never back down for a challenge and are fearless, those are the guys that. Yeah. You know, having help us. 


I love that approach Kelly, because what I keep hearing and I love that you’re repeating it is again, your clarity of vision and the, um, the level of just how ambitious you’ve set the goal both internally and externally. Like if your objective is to blow the mind of your customer, I think that takes the expectations up to a whole other level and I think that’s sometimes where, you know, well-intentioned marketing professionals, like we start out with, with visions and goals and ideas. But sometimes we let our propositions get diluted and it might be by an agency that under delivered, for example, and it’s a, it’s a safe solution, or it might be, you know, for legal or financial reasons. Actually, we all know that there’s reasons that propositions don’t go to Market in the way that originally inspired us. But I can hear that what you’ve brought to Market is something that lives up to your own expectations of blowing your brides minds. 


Well, I hope so. I hope so, but I think the thing that makes us especially satisfying Paula is that it was generated, you know, the, my, you know, my team sitting around a table, looking at an insight, and there are a few insights that, you know, it came from them. The whole thing came from them, you know? And, and, and I think when you hire really smart, passionate people, Yeah, you ask them a question like that. You’re going to get some really good answers. And I think, you know, being fearless and being willing to take. Good calculated risks that are financially sound, I think is as a leader. It’s a wonderful, wonderful thing to see, you know, uh, ordinary people do extraordinary things.


For sure, for sure. And makes them feel inspired as well, I guess Kelly, you know, the fact that you’re, you know, asking consulting and expecting, I guess, for them to apply their best brain power so that the business can grow. Rather than, you know, so many of us, I think, have been particularly in junior jobs and particularly, I think in loyalty where, you know, there’s an earn and burn relationship and we might build it a little bit, but actually going back to the, uh, the drawing boards and building a proposition at this scale is, is quite a rare opportunity dare I say it to get involved in. 


It really is. It really is. I, I think that as well said, you know, my, my Chief Digital Officer. Uh, I had never built a loyalty program. She had never done that before. You know, we bought her company and she came in to be our CDO, but she’d never done that. You know, Jillian who runs performance management, she never built a loyalty economics model, you know, it’s, it was just so fun to watch every, they just, man, they, they were just shining like superstars. It was awesome. 


Awesome. And actually the, the financial modeling is one that I usually do recommend Kelly, that people, you know, do consider getting some consulting support or whatever, because it is where you can make or break clearly any loyalty program. So, yeah. Sounds like you’ve nailed it in every department so as a well done, 


Thank you. 


So listen, Kelly going forward, then I know come October. You’ve already hinted that there’s some big things coming. I love the fact that you’ve already identified what I would certainly hear. In fact, from a lot of members Kelly your programs is this first of all, needs to make the rewards very accessible. So just to, I suppose, acknowledge and, you know, just celebrate that. That’s something that you’re working on because I do think it’s such a critical proof point of a loyalty program for all of us to go. Okay. Yeah. I can achieve that, you know, to make it actually something that’s on the radar to get started. So I think that’s a brilliant development. Is there anything else you can even hint or tease that I’m just going to be grading? 


Ah, well I’ll well, here’s what I’ll tell you. It is, um, it’s, it’s embedded in everything that we’ve already spoken about, but yes, we, we want to, we want to, we want to deliver and serve her in the way that she’s asking us to which has giving her points for everything outside of David’s, that’s the thing that we want to do for her. She’s asking for that. It’s going to, we’re going to have, we’re going to be given away a lot more honeymoons. I tell you now, because she wants to be able to get to that point faster. And so that that’s pretty much all I can say for now.


That’s totally cool. And if there are any brides listening, I mean, I was just loving some of the stats Kelly, you gave me before we came on air. So 308 stores across the US, UK, Canada, and Mexico. And you also mentioned an inventory of over 300,000 gowns available within 24 hours. So it’s absolutely extraordinary.


Thank you. Yeah, we, we own our own vertical supply chain. We have wonderful, wonderful partners, uh, in Asia and our design studios there. Um, and we’re proud of all the gowns they’re there in our they’re in our stores and in our distribution centers, ready to go just for you. And we have the largest group of alterations artisans in the country and sometimes Paula, it is so amazing to see what these brides do with these dresses, they added bustles added sleeves, added sleeves,  remove this, add this. They’re just these little designers. And, um, it’s so amazing. So our alterations artists are extraordinary. 


Okay. And again, not a term, another thing I knew I needed, but again, clearly, 


Don’t you want to move your wedding to the United States? Come on Paula. 


I think I’m going to have to find a way to get married again, you know, say man, of course, but, uh, yeah. 


Well, you’re going to be a beautiful bride. I can guarantee you. You’re going to be gorgeous.


Super excited, Kelly, my goodness. You’re totally getting me in the zone. So that note, I’m going to ask you to promise to come back in October, back on the show, and I’ll be able to share some of my own experiences of having been through the whole big day. And hopefully you can share with our audience, all of the new things you’re launching, 


We will, will I be I’m dying to hear your experience. Beautiful. 


Thank you so much, Kelly. Is there anything else you wanted to mention for our audience before we wrap? 


No, the only thing I would tell them is just stay passionate and stay fearless and have fun. Just, you know, follow your instincts. And you’re going to be a rock stars out there, but I’m always available if anybody ever wants to bounce something off of me or help or whatever, I’m always about. 


That’s a very generous offer. Kelly. I’ll make sure we linked to your profile in the show notes. So with that said, Kelly, cook EVP, Chief Marketing, and IT Officer for David’s Bridal. Thank you so much from Let’s Talk Loyalty.


This show is sponsored by The Loyalty People. A global strategic consultancy with a laser-focused on loyalty, CRM, and customer engagement. The Loyalty People work with clients in lots of different ways, whether it’s the strategic design of your loyalty program or a full service, including loyalty project execution. And they can also advise you on choosing the right technology and service partners. On their website, The Loyalty People also runs a free global community for loyalty practitioners and they also publish their own loyalty expert insights. So for more information and to subscribe, check out theloyaltypeople.global.


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