Moosejaw Gems

At a recent NEMOA conference, I heard a great presentation from Eoin Comerford, CEO of Moosejaw. Moosejaw was a new name to me. They were founded by Robert Wolf in 1992. They have a staff of 50 at their headquarters in Detroit, Michigan. They are early adaptors – with 11 retail stores, a website that started in 1995, customer reviews which started in 2004, and a mobile presence that started in 2006.

You may not agree with everything here – but there is lots of food for thought and innovation! Here are a few things that Eoin believe are KEYS TO THEIR SUCCESS:

Employee motivation

  • Conference rooms were decorated by employees to illustrate their mission statement.
  • They have a weekly “spinning wheel of fortune” with the CEO as MC. Employees can win things like “Go home now”, as well as prizes. This is 5-10 minutes of dedicated fun each week.
  • When hiring, selected employees are chosen by how fun their cover letter is, and how much they know about Moosejaw.
  • At retail, employees get 2 weeks of training plus team building. If they don’t fit in, they are let go.

Branding details

  • Their tagline is “The most fun retail on the planet”.
  • Their goal is to be a hip, young brand, even though their average shopper is 30-50 years old.
  • They have a cult-like following of customers who send notes saying things like “Your emails are the best part of my week.
  • They have free Moosejaw flags to take around the world – customers photos are posted on the website.
  • A brand is about who you are – and who you are not. Define the negative space around you.
  • Be notable.
  • Do the unexpected. Make people step back, and tell a friend, 10 friends.
  • Be engagingly engaged – form relationships; have conversations with customers.
  • Make your customer love you.
  • Only do cool stuff.
  • Don’t sell based on price
  • Don’t sell stuff you would not buy yourself.
  • Have fun at work.
  • Don’t hire for skills over culture.
  • Don’t treat customers like checkbooks or idiots – treat them like a smart friend who you love and enjoy.
  • One video they included in a press release increased sales 37% and got 100s of media mentions (It showed an app they created that gave you “Xray eyes” to see models in underwear in their catalog!)
  • 40% of traffic comes in from mobile – which they have to harness and convert.
  • Catalogs are not for prospecting – they are a way to connect with retail customers who are not on the email list but are really good customers.
  • Social is not about likes – it’s about engagement or else it’s a shell.

To build a brand

  • Be consistent – including mobile, phone voice, signage, packaging with a love note, trucks.
  • Engage at a personal level – Twitter responses, packaging, and voice.
  • Take a long-term view – send no more than 2 emails a week, max (except at holiday) – some emails are not sales related (Moosejaw has a breakup service, and a digital lunch meat throw game, along with the X-ray app to see their models undressed.)
  • Be willing to piss people off – Try new things. Be irreverent. Take chances. It’s okay to make some people mad, just not sad.
  • Expect misses when you take risks. No one gets fired for a bad idea – you have to be willing to fail.

Who do they consider to be their competition?

  • Their #1 competitor is REI. REI is so cause-based, Moosejaw does not have that as part of their mission. Moosejaw is involved with local causes but that doesn’t define them.
  • Eoin also follows Urban Outfitters for fun ideas.
  • And White Stuff from the UK – with fashion with a 50s vibe, and 50s cocktails.

It’s always great to hear from others in our industry – especially those who are trying to shake things up a bit. Oh, wait. That’s what we are trying to do, too.

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The Catalog Blog covers opinions and information on all things catalog. Have something to add? Leave a comment below. Catalog University is devoted to helping you get ahead in the fun and fascinating world of catalogs. If you want even more information about cataloging, including FREE Pub Talks, be sure to sign up for the Cat-U mailing list. We will never share your name with 3rd parties.

Janie Downey – Co-founder, Cat U

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