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How Brooks Brothers Owner Plans to ‘Accelerate Our E-Commerce’

Authentic Brands Group and its Simon Property Group tie-up SPARC now want to engage with shoppers at perhaps the most intimate level—via text messaging.

The brand management firm has partnered with text message marketing platform Attentive to enable customers of various Authentic Brands Group (ABG) labels to subscribe to SMS text messaging programs that grant access to personalized interactions with their favorite brands.

Consumers can currently sign up for SMS via the desktop and mobile websites for major ABG brands including Brooks Brothers, Lucky Brand, Juicy Couture and Nautica, with more brands planned to roll out in the coming months. ABG also owns the Barneys New York, Forever 21, Eddie Bauer, Aéropostale, Vince Camuto, Nine West, Volcom and Izod brands among several others, and most recently bought Reebok from Adidas for $2.46 billion.

“With our focus on delivering digital innovation and customer satisfaction, ABG continues to seek partnerships that empower our e-commerce platform for seamless shopping experiences,” said Adam Kronengold, chief digital officer at Authentic Brands Group. “Through the Attentive partnership we are able to connect with consumers in a new personalized channel, nurture one-to-one customer relationships, and increase brand loyalty.”

Brooks Brothers and Lucky Brand have already signed up over 200,000 SMS subscribers each, Authentic Brands said. Brooks Brothers has also improved its text message marketing program since launching with Attentive, with ROI up 152 times over.

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“We’re excited to partner with Attentive to bring our shoppers an exceptional shopping experience. Based on the results we’ve seen with Brooks Brothers and Lucky Brand, we’re confident Attentive can accelerate our e-commerce and increase brand loyalty across SPARC’s brands,” said Mike Dupuis, chief digital officer for SPARC.

A May 2021 study from eMarketer indicates that mobile accounts for 5.9 percent of total retail sales, or $359.3 billion. The category grew 15.2 percent in 2021, although the major jump occurred in 2020, when mobile shopping saw outsized 41.4 percent growth due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

EMarketer expects mobile’s percentage of sales to nearly double to 10.4 percent of total sales by 2025.

Attentive’s text message marketing programs are designed to be personalized by brand, with the platform leveraging consumer insights and location-based targeting to create behavioral-based campaigns. Subscribers can expect to receive promotional and exclusive offers, personalized texts based on preferences and behavior, and two-way conversational messages in real time.

The SMS marketing solution provider works Urban Outfitters, Rebecca Minkoff and Steve Madden and others in fashion retail. The company says it averages in the range of 30 percent click-through rates and 25 percent ROI for its retail clients.

“With the acceleration of e-commerce, including increasingly more purchases made on mobile, brands must innovate to keep pace with the shifting expectations of consumers,” said Attentive co-founding CEO Brian Long. “We are excited to power ABG’s mobile commerce to help the business evolve in new ways that will remove friction in the customer journey and simplify the brand to consumer communication.”

In December 2020, Attentive performed its own consumer study to assess mobile adoption, saying that 56.7 percent of respondents said they shopped primarily using mobile devices, compared to 6.7 percent who said the same of desktops. More than a third (36.7 percent) reported using mobile and desktop devices equally.

At the National Retail Federation’s virtual conference one month later, Long said consumer willingness to engage with brands over text message has boomed recently, growing from around 60 percent a few years ago to “well over 90 percent” now.

ABG has been in the business of revitalizing undervalued or distressed brands—the brand management firm has an ownership stake in JCPenney and is even launching its own brands in its stores—with a focus on brands that made a name in physical retail. Pending the Reebok acquisition, the company’s brands will exist in more than 6,300 freestanding stores and shop-in-shops around the world.

With Attentive, the company now sees a better opportunity to bring these brands closer to consumers and ideally grab younger, more mobile-savvy shoppers along the way.

Now, all eyes remain on ABG as moves toward going public. The company filed for an IPO in July with plans to trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the stock ticker “AUTH,” though the $100 million  amount is listed is often used as a placeholder. ABG has yet to pull the trigger on the stock sale, with the company expected to go public later this year.