Inside American Eagle’s holiday social media strategy

    More immersive, more clever, more engaging — there’s no exact science to American Eagle’s social media strategy this holiday season, though, in the chase for its quick-paced Gen Z consumer base, CMO Craig Brommers says a “go big” mentality could be the gift that keeps on giving.

    Indeed, this year the retailer is ramping up its activations across social media and the metaverse with the launch of three virtual, shoppable experiences on Snapchat, a themed holiday market and expanded presence on Roblox and a holiday card hashtag challenge on TikTok meant to bring the community together and spread much-needed holiday cheer. 

    The emphasis on augmented reality and immersion this year was reaffirmed by brand research polling consumers aged 15-25 that found the young demographic is approaching the holiday season with a “revenge living” mindset, or looking to make up for time lost from pandemic-dominated years. 

    “Too many holiday celebrations have been taken away from [Gen Z] over the last two years, and nothing is getting in the way of them in terms of the holiday with their friends and their community,” Brommers said.

    Merry metaverse

    As social commerce continues to rise in popularity, American Eagle found itself as an early adopter to innovative tactics used to reach social media’s dominating younger demographic, and the payoff is what helped lock-in this season’s largely-immersive holiday plans. For example, Brommers pointed to the success of its Snapchat augmented reality stores, which allow users to virtually shop for and try on various outfits that they can then purchase. On average, each variation of its virtual stores on Snapchat have generated about $2 million in revenue.

    “Inside of a $5 billion dollar company that may not sound that impressive but it does tell you that if you’re targeting Gen Z, you’re in the attention economy and you’re in the entertainment business and these immersive experiences seem to be something Gen Z is excited by,” Brommers said.

    This year’s holiday season will see a larger investment in the Snapchat activation that will launch Nov. 2 and include three virtual, shoppable stores that will be reset for various themes throughout the holiday window: Outdoor Adventure, Friends Getaway and Holiday Party. Within each, there will be around 20 different items that can be shopped by using the front-facing camera to explore.

    Early days of American Eagle’s Snapchat shopping features came during the 2020 holiday season with the launch of its first virtual store, which quickly saw 20 million people engage with it. In February last year, the brand launched its Jeans Are Forever campaign with a Snapchat tie-in to create the AE x Snapchat AR Jeans Guide, a feature that allowed users to learn about specific washes and fits for jeans featured in the experience. Its fall 2021 campaign also had heavy ties to the platform, with consumers at that point having the ability to take a photo of themselves and virtually “dress themselves” to see how a product would fit

    And while some brands continue to test and experiment with the metaverse, others like American Eagle are making a bigger commitment. In January, the retailer added a director of metaverse marketing to its in-house team that strategizes the brand’s metaverse presence. The company this spring joined Roblox’s Livetopia world and launched its “AE Members Always Club” where users can virtually try on American Eagle clothes. 

    Roblox was a major touchpoint for Brommers during an Advertising Week New York panel discussion titled, “Pay no attention to attention” during which the exec discussed the potential on Roblox, pointing to numbers that include over 30 million clothing try-ons within its virtual experience. American Eagle has also risen as the second most visited brand on the platform, second only to Gucci, he said.

    “Roblox way exceeded by expectations for engagement,” Brommers said. 


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