As accessories chain Claire’s undergoes one of its biggest identity shifts since being on the brink of bankruptcy in 2018, it’s expanding its marketing to include AI integration for creative identity, a teenage docu-series, new digital and physical mascots, and more web3 involvement.
Claire’s legacy piercing identity, announced July 15, includes a new logo, a new approach to imagery and a new, conversational voice aimed at its Gen-Z and Gen-Alpha shoppers. The rebrand for the over-60-year-old, Chicago-based brand is intended to elevate the customer experience across global stores and digital channels.
As of December 2022, Claire’s had 2,780 owned and franchise stores across North America and Europe. The company last reported revenue for the fiscal year ending January 29, 2022, which was $1.4 billion, a 53% increase year-over-year. Company representatives did not provide current fiscal information and store count in time for publication.
Creative director in residence Nicola Formichetti created digital images using AI for use in Claire’s store windows. The images are meant to serve as inspiration for customers looking to customize their “EarPrint,” or the collection of earrings they wear on one ear, in the same vein as friendship bracelet charms at Pandora or Jibbitz for Crocs. Formichetti joined the brand from Diesel in November 2022.
“I’ve always been an early adopter, especially in a creative field,” said Formichetti. “I was one of the first people to use Twitter in my social campaign for Mugler [in 2011]. From my interest in web3 to creating my web3-focused zine, it was very natural to incorporate other innovative technologies like AI into Claire’s creative expression.”
Claire’s creative teams have been using AI in their creative processes over the last few months. That’s occurred mostly in mood board creation, using it as a tool like painting or sketching to create new images based on keywords through ChatGPT and Midjourney. The company’s marketing team, which mostly works remotely, also uses AI to bounce off and improve content and copy ideas by writing prompts through ChatGPT.
“It’s important for a company like ours that is all about Gen Z and Gen Alpha to make sure that we’re on the cutting edge of technology, art, fashion and design,” said Kristin Patrick, evp and CMO of Claire’s. “You’ll continue to see more and more generative AI content integration from us.”
The brand is also introducing “Pierce”, a character made out of earrings, that represents the brand and its young customers. Present across the brand’s marketing, “Pierce” will assist consumers throughout their piercing and online shopping journeys alongside several supporting “phygital” characters that live both digitally and physically in stores. In other words, the brand is getting into mascots to entice its audience.
“Claire’s is a toolbox of self-expression. Technology is a big part of that, because our customers are a generation born with technology,” said Formichetti. “We want to experiment and not take away jobs from people. AI adds another tool to our creative expression.”
The brand launched its ongoing metaverse Roblox experience, “Shimmerville” in October 2022. The game has had over 5.7 million visits since its launch.
“Whether it is AI or getting into the metaverse or jumping on Threads, we’ve got to be there. Sometimes we’ll make mistakes and we will course correct, but it’s better to try it,” said Patrick. The brand started a Threads on its launch day, and now has 18,000 followers. On TikTok, it has 279,000 followers, and it has 346,000 on Instagram.
Claire’s new visual identity will all be supported by a full-funnel marketing plan, inclusive of its second-ever TV ad, via connected TV, and a “free earrings for a year” is available for all customers, with all loyalty members who get their ears pierced at Claire’s receive a free pair of earrings each month for a year.
Since 2018, Claire’s has built up its “Velvet Rope” loyalty program to 16 million global members, and the plan is to eventually integrate web3 and social media into the program. In July, it launched the “Dear Claire” docu-series across its socials. The focus is members of Gen Z talking about their challenges.
“We wanted to turn the megaphone over to Gen Z and Gen Alpha,” said Patrick. “One of the girls featured came from our loyalty program — we really use it as a platform for us to learn about the consumer.”