Yesterday, Fifth & Pacific Companies, Inc. announced a huge new initiative. The company and its brands, Lucky Brand, kate spade new york, Jack Spade, and Juicy Couture, are the very first to take part in Loyal3′s Customer Stock Ownership Plan, or CSOP. CSOP is an easy, affordable way for anyone to buy stock directly from their favorite retail brands. With Fifth & Pacific Companies’ strong focus on engaging their customers across every channel, CSOP is an innovative new way to grow and strengthen the company’s global lifestyle brands while deeply expanding their relationships with their best customers. To learn more, we sat down with Loyal3′s Chairman and CEO, Barry Schneider.
The High Low: Where did the idea for CSOP come from?
Barry Schneider: From a desire to connect people with brands they love through the ultimate expression, ownership. Coupled with a desire to level the playing field and make it easy and affordable for everyone to invest in their favorite companies.
HL: Why will consumers like CSOP and who do you envision using it?
BS: CSOPs are easy, consumers can invest as little as $10, and pay no fees, ever. CSOPs provide access, and we anticipate broad consumer adoption. 48% of Americans have said they’d buy stock directly from companies [with whom] they do business.
HL: How does ownership change the way consumers think about brands?
BS: Ownership changes consumer behavior; people care much more about things they own than things they don’t, and that includes brands. There is no deeper, more intimate relationship a consumer can have with a brand (and vice versa) than ownership.
HL: How have social media and other changes in the digital landscape shaped the development of CSOP?
BS: Social technologies enable this platform. They give it scale and personalization. Imagine the social impact of buying stock directly from your favorite company’s Facebook page, then tweeting or posting to your community. This is really about “social ownership” where consumers connect with their favorite brands and their friends.
HL: How do you see CSOP evolving as the digital landscape continues to change?
BS: Creating more personalization options. Enhancing the community. Giving more opportunities for brands to connect directly in a deeper way with their consumer-owners. Using more video. Finally, using stock as a strategic brand and loyalty currency.
HL: What is the benefit of CSOP to a company?
BS: Wow! To create a deeper connection with their consumers. To take the dialogue to the next level, where there is a common bond and alignment. Customer ownership is the ultimate LIKE button, and a powerful brand and loyalty currency.
HL: Is CSOP a particularly good tool for consumer facing companies like apparel/retail? If so, why?
BS: Yes, absolutely. To deepen consumer engagement, and in this social world where voices are amplified into big numbers, to create more uber-advocates. CSOPs are viral, and apparel/retail is heavily invested in the digital and social media world. Finally, with apparel/retail, brand really matters, and brand is the CSOP “sweet spot.”
HL: How will CSOP change the way companies interact with their consumers? And vice versa?
BS: A much closer connection, both ways. A more effective consumer feedback loop regarding products, styling, utility, etc. As owners, consumers are more vested in a company, so in general, when consumers buy a company’s stock, great things happen. Conversely, when a consumer buys stock, he/she self identifies as a consumer who cares about that brand. My guess is that brands will take that as a signal to invest in that consumer, e.g., with advance notice of store openings, invitations to promotional events, first access to new designs, etc. It just make sense.
HL: How important was partnering with Fifth & Pacific Companies in launching CSOP?
BS: Very important. We are launching a handful of brands in June and through the summer, including some IPO companies. But, we love the power and excitement of the Fifth & Pacific brands, and we love the passion of their CEO, Bill McComb. The first day I met Bill, he was the person I wanted to stand side-by-side with at the day of launch. What a job they’ve done, Juicy Couture, Lucky Brand, kate spade new york and Jack Spade. Amazing!
HL: Is there something about Fifth & Pacific Companies that makes it an ideal company for CSOP?
BS: The power and appeal of their brands, and their commitment to maximizing consumer engagement. They are an innovative culture, which makes them a perfect fit!
Disclosure: Fifth & Pacific Companies, Inc. is the sponsor of this site.