Getting Engaged With American Girl

by Elena Putilina

Getting Engaged With American GirlAmerican Girl doll (@American_Girl) has been a leader in customer engagement well before the concept became a dinner conversation in the marketing innovation circles.

Decades ago, they disrupted the fickle toy industry by creating a rock solid franchise built on the premise of quality products and high emotional engagement appreciated by kids and parents alike. The dolls represented periods of history and came with relevant outfits, accessories and books that taught kids important issues of child labor, poverty, slavery or war.

Getting Engaged With American Girl

As our society became more attentive to the issues of diversity, so did American Doll. Not only could girls pick a doll that resembles their facial features… American Girl offered doll wheelchairs and hearing aids to teach kids to accept themselves for who they are.

With the raise of the experiential trend, American Girl yet again leaped ahead of it’s competitive set in creating matching hairstyles and outfits for the dolls and their lovely owners.

Building on the history of disruptive innovation, American Girl just found another creative way to engage with their customers – cooking classes for girls and their families. The classes are a partnership between American Girl and Williams-Sonoma and are taking place at Williams-Sonoma retail locations.

The classes support the new line of branded cookware— baking sets, utensils, food mixes, and a cookbook—that will be available this fall at both, Williams Sonoma and American Girl stores, as well as online.  In line with brand values of accepting yourself and becoming the best you can be, American Girl is encouraging creativity and self-expression via cooking and baking – a trend that has become very popular in the last couple of years.

Getting Engaged With American GirlThe choice of partner – Williams Sonoma – is also made based on brand values of quality, thoughtfulness and premium experience.

Importantly, at the time when digital channels are occupying the minds of the marketing community, American Girl is not afraid to pursue an ‘old-fashioned’ off line experience.  It is likely that this choice is based on the insight that parents are looking to limit the screen time and increase their daughters’ participation in family-focused, real life activities.

To all of us who strive to drive customer engagement for our own brands, American Girl represents the standard of excellence in understanding societal trends, mining deep consumer insight, and innovating relentlessly.  We too, should stop confining ourselves to the boundaries of our categories and look at creative adjacencies and new engagement channels. The lesson learned is to not to be afraid to disrupt the norm, as long as your customers are up to the challenge.

image credit: williams-sonoma.com, businesswire & ams

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Elena PutilinaElena Putilina (@lenaputilina) is a global marketing executive with experience growing megabrands in consumer packaged goods and healthcare space. Elena’s expertise is in translating customer insight to cutting edge innovation and marketing plans utilizing both, traditional (TV, print, experiential, PR) and new (social, digital, viral) tools. Elena is currently a Sr Director of Marketing Strategy for Diabetes portfolio at Sanofi, and a Marketing Mentor at ERA startup accelerator.

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