Kate Spade & Company, the (primarily) women’s clothing brand, did fairly well in 2014 with net sales up by 40 percent. CEO Craig Leavitt was optimistic about growth, saying “we see a clear path to becoming a four billion dollar business at retail.”
Leavitt had reason to believe he had a winner on his hands. Kate Spade is the survivor of a massive culling of weaker brands, including Fifth and Pacific (formerly Liz Claiborne), Lucky Brand denim and Juicy Couture. Essentially, Kate Spade became the proverbial basket carrying all of the eggs.
Kate Spade expanded from Kate Spade New York, to Kate Spade Saturday (launched in 2013) and Jack Spade, pursuing its goal to be a lifestyle brand that reached “customers in all facets of their lives.”
But by February 2015, all the optimism had drained and stores were closing all over the country. What happened?
Kate Spade Saturday: Retail as a Lean Startup
The beginning of the Kate Spade Saturday story reads like the happy part of a horror film: the part where all the teenagers are so excited to be on a road trip, and everything is going smoothly – too smoothly.
Kate Spade Saturday was born as a concept in 2009 when Kate Spade New York was toying with the idea of partnering with Target. Then the idea became to launch Saturday in Japan only, which became temporary pop-up shops in the U.S., and finally permanent stores. The idea was that Kate Spade Saturday would offer lower-priced, equally playful products that would appeal to a price-conscious young adult market, which made a collaboration with West Elm early in 2015 seem like an ideal pairing.
The company wasn’t trying to “be everything to everyone” – a common enough pitfall. But they were trying to be everything for their target millennial market. Perhaps that was the brand’s downfall, or perhaps it was mismanagement by the KSNY parent company, as some have claimed. But we wondered – how did Kate Spade Saturday do with its target market?
Analysis of Kate Spade Saturday’s Target Audience
Kate Spade Saturday’s audience is made up of millennial (52.21 percent Reach) women who are college educated, married, and make a relatively high income. The majority of the brand’s followers live in New York and California, as well as major cities around the country, which makes sense for its urban-chic look.
KSS Consumers are Spoiled for Choice
Apparel and Fashion rank at the top of KSS’s customer interests profile with 100 percent Reach in Clothing. This group also shops at J. Crew, Lilly Pulitzer, Anthropologie, and Tory Burch – all upscale women’s clothing brands. In fact, Lilly Pulitzer, Michael Kors, Tory Burch, Anthropologie, Madewell, Free People, Loft, and Diane von Furstenberg all share popularity scores of 194 and above.
The top interests of the KSS consumer reveal two things. One: Nearly all of their top 20 interests are clothing brands (Starbucks, Barack Obama, and BuzzFeed being the only outliers), which means they may be passionate about fashion and clothing, but several other very similar stores have caught their attentions.
And that leads us to the second observation: They’re not very interested in home improvement, home décor, or any of the other non-clothing products that Kate Spade Saturday attempted to capitalize on as a “lifestyle brand.”
The most successful young companies tend to do one thing, and do that one thing very well, like Everlane, which does modern basics and claims an ethos of transparency, or Mansur Gavriel which puts out a new style of handbag only every few months. It’s possible that by spreading themselves too thin, Kate Spade Saturday couldn’t turn a profit on home furnishings and lifestyle products because their target demographic was really only interested in clothes.
Would you like to dig deeper into the Kate Spade Saturday audience analysis? We invite you to check out our dynamic infograph that will take you through their demographic and psychographic data. You can even click on features to drill down even further. Check it out here!