Exclusive Q&A with Madewell’s Chief Marketing Officer

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
Dan Berthiaume profile picture
Derek Yarborough
Derek Yarborough, chief marketing officer of Madewell

Madewell is leveraging its Insider targeted loyalty program to help ensure a strong holiday performance.

The apparel retailer, part of J. Crew Group, first introduced its Insider program in 2016 as part of a strategy to foster meaningful, long-lasting relationships with its most loyal customers. Madewell increased its focus on the program this year, with plans to continue to do so throughout the holiday season by tailoring unique shopping experiences to serve members.

The retailer offered its Insider members almost a week of early in-store only access to its Black Friday promotion, and is also providing holiday perks such as a special gift with purchase on orders over $125, free monogramming, and access to in-store stylists for gift support. Recently, Chain Store Age spoke with Derek Yarborough, chief marketing officer of Madewell, about how the Insider program is evolving into a cornerstone of the company’s holiday marketing efforts.

Can you describe the Insider program - why did you launch it and how has it evolved?
At Madewell, we believe that membership is the foundation of the customer experience. It serves as the primary mechanism to put the customer in the driver’s seat to access their account, order history, preferences and increasingly personalized touchpoints with the brand. Since the Madewell Insider program launched in 2016, our strategy has been to foster meaningful, long-lasting relationships with our most loyal customers. 

The program has evolved as we constantly listen and react to customer feedback, which sharpenedour focus on the omnichannel experience and making interactions more seamless and enriching membership benefits. For example, last year, we introduced a loyalty points offering so customers could earn rewards for their brand loyalty. Madewell also launched a mobile app designed first and foremost for our Madewell Insider members. By deepening our relationships with members, and creating a sense of community where everyone feels valued and heard, the Insider program becomes a major gateway for growth of all kinds. 

What benefits do members now get from the Insider program?
Madewell Insiders get one point for every dollar they spend (double points for jeans), free shipping and returns, birthday surprises and early in-store exclusives. Beyond that, members receive early access, on the Madewell mobile app, to things like new products, exclusive collaborations and seasonal lookbooks, as well as free personalization on all leather and denim items.

When Insiders earn 250 points, they get $10 to use towards their next purchase. Additionally, as members work their way up the tiers of the program by meeting certain spend thresholds, they unlock even more perks, including exclusive 3x point days for denim. 

How and why are you tailoring your holiday marketing strategy for Madewell Insiders?
We are most excited about the opportunity to get our customer in-store and experience the full breadth of what our brand has to offer, including product discovery, our famous denim bar, styling help, omnichannel services and more. For the holidays, this has come to life in how we have been offering Insiders almost a week of early in-store-only access to our Black Friday promotion, a special gift with purchase on orders over $125, free monogramming to personalize gifts, and access to our in-store stylists for gift support.

We want to cement for our customers that Madewell is the top destination for an incredible shopping experience and there’s no better time of year to show what you’re made of than the holiday season. 

What advice would you give other retailers operating or considering starting loyalty programs targeting their best customers?
The best piece of advice I can offer is that staying in tune with what your customers want and being committed to addressing their needs will drive your success, and make the overall customer shopping experience more seamless and more enjoyable.

[Read more: Survey: Holiday shoppers receptive to hearing from retailers]