Six years into its existence, Stitch Fix, an online personal shopping service, is going after a mainstream audience with its first TV campaign. Popular with consumers too busy to do their own shopping, the San Francisco-based company is airing three 30-second spots to highlight its styling services—consumers receive an assortment of apparel and accessories that are picked for them via stylists and data algorithms, and keep only what they want.
"We have a really strong base of fans who love Stitch Fix," explained Shari Jones, who joined as VP-marketing last year. She noted that the fan base has grown enough for Stitch Fix to try its message with the broader audience of TV viewers. Though she declined to say how much Stitch Fix is spending on the campaign, she said it's the largest effort thus far. Last year, when the startup first starting marketing, it spent roughly $65,000 on measured media in the U.S., according to Kantar Media.
Stitch Fix's expansion effort comes at a time when many similar digital brands are also striving to mature and reach a more mainstream consumer. Earlier this month, online meal kit brands Blue Apron and Hello Fresh debuted new campaigns from new agencies. Boxed, a delivery service for bulk-size products, just hired its first chief marketing officer. By 2019, more than 80% of Association of National Advertisers members will be doing business online, according to an ANA study released Tuesday. The group said the majority, or 74%, of respondents currently engage in e-commerce.
"There is every reason to believe that these trends will accelerate, which will dramatically transform how consumers interact with marketers," said Bob Liodice, ANA chief executive, in a statement. "These trends will pressure marketers to adapt quickly."
Opting for more traditional marketing, beyond digital, has worked well as a strategy for established online players like home goods company Wayfair, eBay and Amazon, said Sucharita Mulpuru, chief retail strategist at Shoptalk. The direction can be essential for customer acquisition for brands such as Stitch Fix, which is rumored to be gearing up for an IPO.
"It does seem counterintuitive but it also speaks to the limitations of digital media or even e-commerce in that you can't reach all the people all the time with digital alone," she said. "In a crowded marketplace of sellers, sometimes traditional approaches are critical to growing word of mouth and awareness."
Stitch Fix's new ads highlight the company's highly personalized services—a voiceover from a brand stylist says, "I learn what you like, and send you clothes you'll love." With 80 data scientists, the company learns from every purchase and return and is able to send more custom-built assortments over time. Its business model is a combination of human touch and technology, said Ms. Jones.
The company tapped San Francisco-based Muh-tay-zik Hof-fer for creative last year, its first agency relationship. Ocean Media handled media planning and buying on the new campaign, which will include a social media push on Facebook and Pinterest.
"We set out to highlight personalization with work that uniquely brings to life the range of products Stitch Fix offers," said John Matejczyk, co-founder and executive creative director of Muh-tay-zik Hof-fer, in a statement. "We're establishing the brand with a new audience."
As it expands its marketing, Stitch Fix has also grown its business streams. Last year, the retailer branched into menswear, and a plus-size offering will launch later this year. Yet for a business that competes with traditional players, like Macy's and J Crew, and e-commerce companies like Bonobos, Stitch Fix will have to continually differentiate.
"In the apparel and fashion retail business, it's just extremely hard to keep that momentum because the competition is so intense," said Erich Joachimsthaler, chief executive and founder of brand strategy firm Vivaldi. "You have to show those growth rates."