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Neiman Marcus embraces Gilt Groupe model with flash sale

October 11, 2010

Neiman Marcus promoted its midday flash sale with an email campaign


Neiman Marcus promoted a midday flash sale held early Friday afternoon via an email campaign sent out to a list of dedicated subscribers.

The sale was held from 11:30 a.m. CT to 1:29 p.m. CT on Neiman Marcus’ Web site. Consumers were offered free shipping with a promotional code that they entered at checkout.

“I think Neiman Marcus is just trying to compete with the Gilt Groupes of the world,” said Milton F. Pedraza, CEO of Luxury Institute, New York. “I think they have the client base to try to do it with.

“I don’t know if they have the chemistry or brand imagery to do it with,” he said. “Neiman, more than Saks or Nordstrom, has suffered during the recession.”

“They are trying to make it exciting and copy the Gilt Groupes and Net-A-Porters and make it more of an exciting experience.”

Neiman Marcus is an Irving, TX-based luxury department store chain.

Neiman Marcus did not respond by press deadline.

Copying the competition

The flash sale last two hours

The email blast prompted consumers to click on an image of an hour-glass, bringing them to the flash sale’s landing page.

The sale featured various marked-down merchandise from all departments.

Notable sale items on the Neiman Marcus’ landing page included an Oscar de la Renta coral colored Bow-Waist dress, originally priced at $2,390, on sale for $836, and a Marchesa long black sequin gown, originally priced at $5,940, marked down to $2,079.


The landing page of the Neiman Marcus flash sale

The sale was available for the two hours specified or until merchandise sold out. Once the sale was over, the consumer was prompted to shop for Neiman Marcus items at full price.


Sale items from the Neiman Marcus flash sale

“I think obviously they are trying to make the sale exciting,” Mr. Pedraza said. “But I don’t know if there is a tremendous strategy behind the timing other than that Friday is a good day for people to start thinking about online shopping.

“The competition and limited offer and limited time is copied from the discount Web sites [such as Gilt Groupe],” he said. “I think that what they are trying to do is test it out and see how it goes.

“I don’t know that the timing is as premeditated as we may think, they may have just put the technology in place and now they want to test it.”

Flash email
Email campaigns and special promotions for consumers are a choice tactic among luxury brands and retailers.

Fashion designer Salvatore Ferragamo recently targeted a list of dedicated subscribers via an email campaign, pushing the new W bag that it launched at Fashion’s Night Out last month (see story).

Likewise, London-based department store Harrods has been pushing sales via targeted emails.

It sent out an email campaign promoting its Christmas hampers last month, offering free shipping when a consumer spent over £100 (see story).

Harrods subsequently encouraged consumers to sign up for its rewards program by offering a limited-time 10 percent discount on most items online and in-store via an email offer last weekend (see story).

In the future, flash sales and email promotions to dedicated shoppers will likely become a staple of luxury brands online, because of their need to make shopping entertaining. Efforts such as Neiman Marcus’ sale on Friday are an attempt at innovation and a way to generate excitement.

“This is eBay-ing it, if you will, and a lot of brands have adopted it online,” Mr. Pedraza said. “Neiman is tapping into it — let’s see it if will last.

“There is a lot of dynamic [marketing] going on and I think it is a wonderful test of something that is going on everywhere else,” he said. “A little late to the party, but its better late than never.

“They are starting to innovate now, retailers are starting to rethink everything and this is just one example of trying to reinvent yourself a bit.”

Final Take
Kaitlyn Bonneville, editorial assistant at Luxury Daily, New York