Jacee Scoular’s expanding role at Hollister Co. proves that Gen-Z brands are putting effective marketers in the driver’s seat.
“Not a lot of marketers get to invent something 100% new,” Scoular said of her contribution to the development of Social Tourist, the brand Hollister Co. launched with TikTok mega-influencers Dixie and Charli D’Amelio in May 2021. “I had a front-row seat at the table for building, naming and contracting. The expansion of our team into these [planning] rooms has been fun.”
One year in, Social Tourist has 600,00 followers across TikTok and Instagram and serves as a marketing playbook for brands across the portfolio of Hollister Co. parent company Abercrombie & Fitch Co.
Fran Horowitz, CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch, called out the brand’s impact on the company’s 2021 full-year earnings call in March: “Social Tourist’s unique positioning has helped us find creative ways to engage and attract customers, and we’ve applied these learnings to our other brands,” she said.
Scoular, who oversees marketing strategy for the Hollister and Gilly Hicks brands, along with Social Tourist, has made meaningful moves since joining Abercrombie & Fitch Co. in 2018. For example, in 2021, Hollister “owned Black Friday on TikTok,” according to Horowitz, with 185 million impressions and 75% of Gen-Zers on TikTok seeing an ad for Hollister or Gilly Hicks.
“Our consumer shops a lot in stores, and it does impact our store business when we have good performance on TikTok,” said Scoular. While Abercrombie & Fitch Co. saw record digital sales in 2021, stores drove 53% of the business.
Since the start of 2021, Scoular’s grown her team from four to 16 people, which has included implementing new roles like a head of live shopping and social commerce.
According to Scoular, brand marketers can no longer think about their role solely from the perspective of the marketing department. Modern brands need to be “woke on all fronts,” she said.
Driven by the concept of “human-powered brand building,” she’s established an ecosystem to take on that responsibility with confidence. For example, Hollister regularly taps a focus group of high schoolers and hosts influencer summits, fueling connections between the brand and creators.
“I love brave marketing and brave concepts,” she said. “Everything we do centers around how we can connect with [our customer] in meaningful ways.”
Weaving in purpose has been crucial to that strategy, she said, pointing to the cross-platform integration of Hollister Confidence Project initiatives. Also key has been catering to specific Gen-Z audiences, which has included the LatinX community, through a rising creator program called Good Vibras, and, of course, gamers.
In 2021, Hollister named top gamer Kyle “Bugha” Giersdorf as the company’s chief gaming scout, charging him with the task of enlisting other gamers as brand influencers. At the same time, it launched gaming-focused product collabs, Fortnite tournaments and Twitch livestreams.
“Some creators are incredible at selling, and some creators are incredible at making people think about you differently,” Scoular said. “We’re focused on building relationships with the right creators that help us reach the right audience at different parts of their [brand] journey.”
While “TikTok is where it’s at,” in terms of Hollister’s current focus on platforms, Scoular said she and her team are now thinking bigger: “We’re blowing out the idea of a digital-first or digital-only strategy to include communities and friends — what social means in real life,” she said.
As such, it’s safe to assume that Gen Z is demanding a more immersive approach.
“I recently spoke at [an event] where my bio stated, ‘Jacee knows more about Gen Z than she does about herself,’” she said. “It’s kind of true.”
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