How PacSun is using data to connect during the pandemic
Ad Age’s annual 40 Under 40 feature is coming up. Ahead of its publication on Oct. 5, we are asking former honorees questions about topics in the news, including how they are dealing with the coronavirus. Don’t forget to nominate your own rising stars for this year’s list ahead of the Aug. 5 deadline. You can do so here.
Kristen D’Arcy, chief marketing officer at California-based surfwear and lifestyle retailer PacSun, appeared on Ad Age’s 40 Under 40 list in 2019. At the time, she led integrated marketing and media at American Eagle Outfitters, the teen brand. Now, she’s tasked with navigating marketing and messaging for an apparel brand at a time when many are trading jeans and sweatshirts for hand sanitizer and rubber gloves.
Below, D’Arcy addresses those topics and more:
What’s been the biggest change in your role due to the pandemic?
The shift from an omnichannel focus to, for a time, primarily digital. And then back to omnichannel as the pandemic evolved. We leaned even more heavily into data—identifying where our customers were now spending their time in this new, socially distant but connected world. And we tried to stay ahead of the competition with smart, always-on but efficient marketing investments. Finally, we were fluid with our messaging, adjusting it sometimes daily, based on what was happening in the world.
What is one lesson you’ve learned from the last four months?
It’s not a new lesson per se but it’s definitely one that’s been front and center these past few months. Grit is key to winning, both with consumers as well as internal teams. The team quickly and often pivoted our marketing strategies and investments based on what was happening with the business. And when we’re physically distant, we need to be empathetically close to our people to keep them engaged, optimistic and drive results. So we had Zoom days where not only did we discuss business, but met each other’s children and pets to keep everyone connected and their spirits high.
What should the industry do to encourage more diversity in its ranks?
It starts by recruiting diverse candidates early on, as they’re deciding which industry to focus their studies. I think there’s an opportunity to tap into college students, introduce them to our industry and show how their inclusion in the business can make a real difference go forward.
What piece of advice do you wish you could give your younger self?
More than anything else, the culture of the place where you work matters. Who you work with every day is a greater factor of happiness than the size of your paycheck or your title. Cherish the cultures and people that make you passionate about what you do every day.
What do you find most surprising about where you are now?
As a New Yorker for 12 years, I wouldn’t have thought I’d be in LA and, even more surprising, that I love it as much as I do! And I suppose, secondarily, that I’d have this role during a global pandemic. To the grit point, if we can get through this, we can get through anything together as an industry.