Welcome to the Retail Rundown, your go-to weekly podcast where RETHINK Retail teams up with industry experts to discuss the news and trends defining the world of retail.

In this episode, guest host Mina Fader, managing director of Wharton’s Baker Retailing Center at the University of Pennsylvania, sat down with Mary Rodgers, director of marketing communications at Cuisinart, and Ron Thurston, former vice president of stores at Intermix, to discuss this year’s back-to-school shopping season and the social media platforms that will make the greatest impact on school-aged consumers.

If you enjoyed this episode, please let us know by subscribing to our channel and giving us a 5 star rating us on Apple Podcasts. 

TRANSCRIPTION

Mina Fader :
Hello, Rethink Retail listeners. Welcome to a very special back-to-school edition of the Retail Rundown podcast. I’m Mina Fader, your host for the week, and for those of you who may not know me, I’m the managing director of Wharton’s Baker Retailing Center at the University of Pennsylvania. Joining me today is Mary Rodgers and Ron Thurston. Mary is a director of marketing communications at Cuisinart, where she oversees all consumer communication touchpoints for the brand portfolio from market research to social media and overall marketing strategy. Ron Thurston is a former vice president of stores at Intermix amongst several other brands and the author of the recently published best-selling book, Retail Pride: The Guide to Celebrating Your Accidental Career. Mary, Ron thank you so much for being here.

Mary Rodgers:
Thank you for having me today. I’m really excited.

Ron Thurston:
Thank you, man. Me too, I’m making some new friends today.

Mina Fader :
Yes, and I’m really excited to have you both on the show today. I wanted to kick off today’s show with some positive news that has arrived just in time for back-to-school season, besides in today’s world who doesn’t need some good news. So it’s time for us to just talk about that. So, first of all, Walmart announced last week that it will begin offering free college tuition and books to its 1.5 million U.S. employees effective August 16th. The move comes as an expansion of the retailer’s existing Live Better U education program and is intended to create a path of opportunity for its associates to grow their careers so they can continue to build better lives for themselves and their families. Do you think that Walmart is setting a new standard for retailers and will and should other retailers follow suit? Ron, let’s start with you.

Ron Thurston:
Great. Thank you so much, Mina, I absolutely love the fact that Walmart has made this decision. I went back actually, when I saw the news come through two days ago. I immediately went to their website and looked at the homepage and I love just this sentence that I wanted to share and it says it’s, a successful well-trained and engaged workforce is one of the most important ways Walmart will win in the future of retail and that sentence alone says so much about the state of our industry. Is that in order for brands to continue to attract and retain great talent, the idea of how we can continue to build businesses and open stores and invite people into working in this incredible retail industry that we all love, that this idea of engaged workforces that have internal academics and on-demand language skills training that they have the assistance with college degrees, making it and open to all I think is an incredible step in their journey as one of the biggest employers in this country.

Mina Fader :
Mary, any comments on that?

Mary Rodgers:
Yeah, actually I have a couple of comments. So the one thing I liked about it too, is that it included part-time employees. So not just full-time employees and I also like the fact that over the last, like say five to 10 years, a lot of larger organizations have either cut back on their tuition reimbursement or they have, in some cases made it difficult for employees to take advantage of it because of the stay on period after you receive your degree. And so I think it’s a great opportunity for any level employee at Walmart. I think it also then makes those employees have better opportunities, but they’ll always be very loyal to the Walmart retailer for their personal use also as time goes on.

Mina Fader :
Yeah, and what I really find interesting about this is that these employees, I mean, everybody talks about what the living wage should be, and what the minimum wage is and this is far more than just wages. This really talks about life, lifestyle and what it’s doing for your family overall and I think it’s just a much more longer term perspective of keeping as you said, Mary loyal employees and people who really want to be part of the Walmart family and not just a job to go to. Which I think is just… It sends a signal to everybody who works there as well as people outside where, wow, Walmart’s a really great place to work.

Mary Rodgers:
So yeah, I also think the great thing about it too, is we all know what the statistics are when you have an education and when you don’t and it completely impacts people’s livelihood. There’s a huge disparity between education and non-education. And also, I think the other thing is too, is that this will open up more opportunities for these employees who maybe are in entry-level positions to really grow within the Walmart platform as the Walmart platform grows too and right now I’m sure you all have, [inaudible 00:05:21] I know we’re struggling with talent acquisition in general right now the marketplace, as far as talent acquisition is really tough out there and this gives Walmart and advantage over many other organizations not just in retail.

Ron Thurston:
Yeah. I completely agree with that, but I think the challenge if you kind of under the covers of the announcement, you’ll see historically they have about 1.5 million employees within Walmart who are eligible for this part-time and full-time, and it says 52,000 have participated and 8,000 of their employees have graduated, which is a really small number. And so I think it’s how do we make this even bigger, even better, even more loud for them as a great place to work, and then actually remove all the obstacles so that they can participate in. I know they had, I think a dollar a week employee contribution and they removed that and absorb that cost, which is fantastic, but let’s get more and more people through this program so that they can contribute into the retail workforce in a really significant way. I think it’s really exciting.

Mina Fader :
Now, I think it’s great and as they promote it, hopefully, they’ll have more people who will participate in this and get the word out in a way that it’s not just getting the word out, but actually turning it into action would be terrific. Let’s turn now to this year as back-to-school season as that’s the primary subject that we want to talk about. And I’ll say that after millions of children and university students attended school from home last year, campuses around the country are gearing up for the return to campus learning and retailers have been gearing up to. According to an annual survey released by the NRF and Prosper Insights & Analytics. Consumers are planning to spend record amounts this fall for both school and college supplies and I think there was an article in The Wall Street Journal even this week saying that retailers have back to school in the bag, which is such a nice tagline or a punchline to what we’re seeing overall.

Mina Fader :
Deloitte just released a study predicting that the 2021 back-to-school spending overall will hit over 32.5 Billion dollars. And I know that other studies have shown different numbers, but I wanted to do a comparison to comparison study here that that was for K to 12 students. That’s about $612 per student of which they said 12 billion of this will be in technology products. Overall, that means the back-to-school sales will be projected to jump 16% from 2020 and 17% from 2019. And tech sales will jump 37% from 2020 and a whopping 76% from 2019. How are you feeling about this? What do you think is going to happen in the back-to-school season? Do you agree? Do you not agree? And how different or similar will this look to the pre-pandemic back-to-school season. Mary, let’s start with you this time,

Mary Rodgers:
Well, looking at this from the perspective of the parents. We focus a lot on back to school for college, not just for K to 12 and when I think about it, yes, there’s going to be more need of technology, but a lot of that stuff was also put into place over the last year and a half because those needs were kind of met, but it’s going to expand I believe. I would say the other thing is that, the needs for these college students have expanded. The things I think parents are probably more concerned about when their child gets in a congregate setting again are the cleanliness the things that they may not have been sending their student to school with in the past. The other thing too I would say is, I’ve personally noticed the back to school is already started.

Mary Rodgers:
It started in June the minute that school was out. I mean, if you’ve seen the advertisements and the products placed in stores and all of the marketing promotions that are going out in emails and so on and so forth. It’s already there and so they already have quite a jump on previous seasons. I think also that parents will be planning much further ahead because of the fact that it’s definitely known that there’re issues in the supply chain and so I think people would be buying much earlier than they had in the past, knowing that if they do wait too close to the school season, that they may not be able to get the things that they want for their children.

Mina Fader :
Definitely a concern. I think there are some other things that are going on as well beyond that.

Ron Thurston:
Yea, it’s funny that you started with that quote, that retailers have back to school in the bag and that might be true, but we’re in a really critical point in the industry, as Mary had referenced early around staffing and everyone that has worked in brick and mortar retail for the better part of the last year, when many other people had the choice to work from home or had more flexible work schedules, they have been the frontline of the face of retail this entire time and now we’ve reached a point where it’s been becoming even more difficult to fill those roles.

Ron Thurston:
It’s becoming even more difficult to fill those roles and even more challenging to provide that level of service that brands want. And I think it’s going to be a fantastic back-to-school season. Just like it’s been a great summer for many, many brands, but we have to also recognize what else do we need to do in stores to support this growth backup business. These statistics of up to 76% from 2019. We have a lot of work to do in stores to make sure that they feel supported to deliver those kinds of numbers. And I think today, even just Coach or Tapestry announced a $15 minimum wage for all stores across the country, fantastic step. And like those even maybe minor, some would call major steps forward is how we will support this growth in business. And its good news, but I don’t think the customer experience is going to be as great as some of the brands want it to be this season.

Mina Fader :
So are you thinking that that’s going to lead to not the same level of growth that people are thinking, it’s not going to be that 19 or 17% or the 76% on technology? Are you thinking that it’ll impact profit? How do you think that’s going to impact what’s going on here?

Ron Thurston:
I think there are risks to the number. If there are staffing challenges and if stores can’t open to the kind of extended hours, we’re quickly approaching the holiday season where malls extended hours and outlet malls being open for 14, 16 hours straight. That is going to be a very difficult road ahead. And so, yes, I think there’s risk. I think from a margin profitability perspective, running under payroll is not a bad thing for the bottom line, but it’s a very bad thing for the perception of the brand. And the idea here of potential profit over experience is a band-aid to what I think we have to think about more long-term as everyone gets back into stores.

Mina Fader :
Yeah. I have to say, I’m in Philadelphia and the malls over here, at least the large malls, the biggest mall here, their hours are not back to where they were pre-pandemic. I think their hours are 11 to seven where it was before 10 till nine or something on the weekdays. And so it’s certainly been inconvenient. And as I think about many of us returning back to work on a five day or four day or more extended schedule, trying to work within that, I can see will potentially impact how I purchase what I purchase and how much I purchase. So an interesting thing, and that’s not just about back to school, that’s in general.

Mary Rodgers:
I would also add that when thinking about the growth that’s predicted in technology, there’s major strain on component parts and product manufacturing. And that is, from what I’ve heard through our supply chain within our organization is that’s going to work well into probably the mid half of next year. So I think that in that area, if there’s not product, the numbers aren’t going to be there. And I would also say from my own experience with my own team is that, we’re on a hybrid right now. We went back in July. And so my team works with a lot of data. So they need two setups. So we had to purchase more equipment for people to be able to be productive the same way they are at home as they are in the office.

Mary Rodgers:
And our IT department told us that we need to do monitors, we need more docking stations. And they were like, “This stuff is tough to get.” I mean, they managed to get it, but I would say if parents are looking to purchase technology for their students, that they should acquire it sooner rather than later. And I would also say too, speaking to the lack of in-store staffing that this is going to force consumers to do more shopping online again, and also with the supply chain, like instead of having to run into the store and see if they have something and it’s not there, they have a better opportunity to acquire the goods digitally instead, which is not the way. Retailers like feet in the door. A lot of big brick and mortar want people feet in the door because they know that adds to the shopping cart.

Mina Fader :
I have to say, this isn’t exactly back to school, but it is back to the idea of the shopping situation and the supply chain. I’m in the process of remodeling a home and I need furniture for it. And I’m not one to go purchase secondhand, but because I know furniture has been so difficult to get, one of the things I’ve been doing has been going to secondhand places to get furniture so that I can get it immediately. I think people are going to be thinking about different ways to satisfy their purchasing needs, and it may cost some more money. It may require them to go to second-gen and third-gen products, but it is definitely in my mind going to change how we do things. I mean, have you all seen or have thought about this within your companies and organizations of what you’re going to implement based on this increased demand and these operational considerations that we’re talking about here?

Mary Rodgers:
I mean, I can speak to that directly, obviously being in the manufacturing durables business. We are having to plan much further out. We are having to do a lot of rejiggering of product launches because of shortness in certain raw materials, specific raw materials that we use for specific products. And so we are on that every minute of every day. There have also been some considerations in diversifying the supply chain so that we’re not heavily reliant on one specific point, but that’s also been super difficult because that’s a long-term view. Because we use expensive tools to make our products that you have a ramp-up time period. And also you have a large expense in developing second tools to have the product seamlessly transition possibly to a new location. So we’re constantly making those considerations. As far as from the marketing perspective, from my perspective, that causes my team to be more focused on things that are operational, which we haven’t had to do in the past.

Mary Rodgers:
So when it comes to any type of marketing campaigning, one thing I dislike the most is putting time, money, and resources into something and then the consumer can’t acquire it. So we’re very cognizant of product availability and keeping our eye on that on a daily basis.

Ron Thurston:
Yeah. And Mina, I would just add coming most recently from a luxury women’s fashion multi-brand space. There’s a lot of conversation of supply chain, but also inventory levels and where that inventory sits. So that increase in things like ship from store, many hub distribution centers that many retail brands are using their brick and mortar stores for like, speed of delivery, customer promise. But at the same time, you don’t want to be overstocked and you don’t want to be understocked and get into situations around margin degradation. So there’s a lot of conversations in everything from furniture to cars, to homes, to fashion, we’re all trying to navigate this in a really very unique business year, for sure.

Mina Fader :
So selfishly, I have to say that I love this conversation because I’m an operations’ person at heart, and I love these kinds of discussions where a lot of other people think of it as boring. And now we’re all talking about it, which is fabulous. So…

Ron Thurston:
That’s true.

Mina Fader :
Well, changing the subject a little bit. This period, some of the things that we’ve seen in the pandemic certainly have to do with store closures and people staying home and all those kinds of things, but there’s been a lot of other things that have happened from a cultural standpoint, including discussions about BLM, wokeness and the cancel culture. And to that end, the Fluid Project is launching a line of apparel and accessories in September that’s a hundred percent gender free, a hundred percent upcycled dead stock and organic fabrics and a hundred percent responsibly and ethically produced products.

Mina Fader :
Additionally, The Gap has launched an individual’s campaign for back to school. How do you think this is going to be received by the general public? Will this change what kids are looking for in their back to school shopping process, will people be more cautious or more expressive about sharing their individuality? And this is a significant change, I think. Topics that people have talked about a bit quietly, and now it’s much more open. And I think this will have some sort of impact. I’d love to hear your thoughts on that. Ron, why don’t we start with you?

Ron Thurston:
Sure. I’d love to. For the Fluid Project and what Rob Smiths has done in the past from a retail perspective and what he continues to do in developing new product categories is really exciting. I think of this idea and these really important initiatives that The Gap and others are doing is about showing all of us of an authentic and kind of real way that you can be your best coming back to school or just all of us in general, it shows safe places for people to shop, to express themselves, to be individual, that’s a word that Gap has used since the nineties with the individual campaigns and today being individual feels even more interesting than it did 20 years ago. And the conversation around how do we use pronouns to identify ourselves. If I say in my LinkedIn profile, I’m Ron Thurston, I identify as he, him, his, it’s not because there’s a question about my gender. What it shows is the openness to create a safe space for everyone to identify their gender.

Ron Thurston:
… and this to create a safe space for everyone to identify their gender. And so I think we all have to work together, even if it doesn’t impact us personally, we all have to say something in big ways to make those who don’t feel safe expressing themselves feel maybe just a little bit more comfortable and see things happening in ways that they didn’t always see before. And I can’t encourage it enough. I think it’s also, again how you build a retail workforce of people who feel welcome and safe working, however they want to identify themselves. I think this is fantastic.

Mina Fader :
Sorry. Thank you, Ron. That was very, very insightful. Mary. Any thoughts on that?

Mary Rodgers:
I have a couple of thoughts, actually. So some of the things that I’ve seen happening in the retail environment in this space, I find very inspiring. We’re seeing our major retailers bringing along brands and vendors in this area and expecting them to provide their perspective and their plans and around inclusivity, sustainability. I also think the fluid project hits on a lot of buttons that consumers are making considerations on. And my knowledge about this is that consumers are aligning their purchase decisions with those brands and those retailers who mirror their own, basically. And as you know, a lot of the large retailers in the United States are very traditional. Traditional outlook, they’re difficult in a lot of times for them to change quickly just because of their sheer size and scale.

Mary Rodgers:
But I can tell you, I’ve been having these conversations with our legal team and upper management on what the expectations of our retailers are moving forward in these spaces. So I think it’s coming to the forefront and very important. I think the other thing that’s tough too, is for some brands, they have to be very careful when it comes to the marketing aspects of these types of social impact issues, because there’s a lot of brands that tend to whitewash it or take advantage of the situation. And then the cancel culture comes in, and they get the backlash. So for marketers, it’s tough to navigate basically, and be authentic.

Mina Fader :
Yeah. And I think in today’s world, well, prior to the pandemic, there was probably this culture where you didn’t want to say too much. You didn’t want to be politically incorrect, or you didn’t want to take a stand that may potentially abandoned or disengage a portion of your customers. And going back to your point, Mary, about authenticity, it’s really become important for organizations to think hard about what stance they want to take or what they believe in and to be authentic about it. Because as you said, I think that consumers are now affiliating themselves and making purchasing decisions based off of those values to make sure that their values are consistent with those of the organization that they’re supporting.

Mina Fader :
And so from that standpoint, I think there’s a whole new vocabulary out there about talking about what’s important to you, why it’s important to you, how you plan in supporting it. And how do you create that culture within your corporate organization, such that everybody buys into it. Because if it’s just a marketing tool or if it’s just a way for you to serve a segment of customers, I mean, people know right away, the authenticity really needs to show up. And so I be curious at Cuisinart kind of what has been happening there within the company culture to create that feeling, and not just the feeling, the authenticity that comes along with that.

Mary Rodgers:
Yeah. We’re having those conversations as we speak. You know, I have been discussing that with our upper management because of the fact that we’re trying to map out formalized… We have sustainability statements and all those things on all the actions that we’re taking there, but we need to do it… I’m part of a big global company, so we need to do it on a… That’s something I feel it has to be done on a corporate level. I can’t drive that from a division level myself, but I am pushing that inside the organization.

Mary Rodgers:
And like I said, our retailers want it from us too. And so that’s going to force all brands that have a selling relationship with these major retailers to be very transparent as to what their plans are, and what they’re actually doing. I mean, they’re coming down to the fact, they want to know percentages of people that fit into all these profiles and you know, that we are making sure that we’re offering opportunities to all types of employees. And also the retailers are doing the same. So it’s expected. And it should be.

Mina Fader :
I can imagine that selling internationally where you’re dealing with multiple different cultures and all of those kinds of things and acceptance of these kinds of discussions may be at a different level, depending upon where you are, would make it even more difficult.

Mary Rodgers:
Yes it is. And we also are a decentralized marketing function, so that makes it even more complicated. It sounds like it wouldn’t, but it does. But we do a lot of sharing across… Cuisinart in some countries, the United States, we’re very strong in North and South America and building out areas and other areas in the globe. But we do a lot of knowledge sharing, but those types of things… And there’s also a lot of localized regulations that you have to be very knowledgeable about too. And so we do a lot of sharing in that area, but it’s definitely run by the local marketing office, basically.

Mina Fader :
Ron, I know that you’re no longer at Intermix right now, but when you think about apparel and what’s been happening there, as people are coming out with bigger individualism, individuality, and differences across that, have you seen a change in what’s been happening in the apparel world?

Ron Thurston:
I have, because there are a lot of great conversations specifically about kind of recycle. We know that the biggest contributor to negative impact on global warming and some of these really things like water pollution is due to the apparel industry. And so there are brands that are making very specific choices about how they’re manufacturing, where they’re sourcing, and then there’s also great conversations happening around size inclusion. Or I was on a Zoom call the other day, I mentored several students from Parsons University as they’re graduating. And they were presenting projects from fashion that were very ADA friendly.

Ron Thurston:
The whole point of the pitch was we’re going to create accessible products to all. And some of them, even in the mental health space apparel that is used to sooth yourself when you are having severe anxiety, just things like this. So, every aspect of this has begun often with an apparel and fashion conversation, because we all buy clothes. We all express ourselves through what we wear, and whether it’s size or some other kind of mental or disability challenge that you may have, brands that are supporting that are becoming more on the forefront. I think it’s really exciting.

Mina Fader :
Yeah. I also think it’s really exciting, because I’m not even thinking from people who may have ADA or mental health kinds of concerns with dressing and apparel, the idea of gender free and for people to be able to express their own sexuality in a different way, I think it’s something that’s been much more accepting and openly shared. And I think that in itself is an education for the vast majority of people to understand that we have those differences and that doesn’t make you better or worse, but just another person. And to accept and respect that, I think has been a very nice signal. That’s going to take a long time to fully embrace, but we’re starting that conversation. And I think that’s so important today.

Ron Thurston:
I agree with you. And it’s not for every brand. Intermix identifies itself as a brand for people who identify as female, but really celebrate being a woman. It’s a female-led, female-centric fashion women’s brands and they’re proudly so. But they do embrace sustainability. There’s a lot of conversation on size. There’s a lot of things that become important part of the conversation, even though you identify as a brand for women. So, there’s kind of tertiary multiple streams that impact every brand, but I’m glad we’re all having this conversation.

Mina Fader :
Terrific. So the last question I have there is about social media. This year, social media platforms are likely to play a bigger role than it ever has in the back to school shopping experience. Snapchat says that 86% of its users are on the platform when shopping, which I find so surprising. What makes social media platforms so appealing during back-to-school shopping, and how do you determine what digital strategies and platforms to use to engage and convert shoppers? Mary?

Mary Rodgers:
So for us, we use specific platforms. We are most active on… You could probably guess the ones. Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest. We also are launching on TikTok. We use LinkedIn for business only.

Mary Rodgers:
We align with the platforms that have audiences that are appropriate for our brand, our brand essence. I do agree with you about, I believe social shopping is going to be… It already has become significant. I saw statistics recently about a large percentage of people in the last year have purchased off social media. I mean, I know myself, I do that too.

Mary Rodgers:
But I think that’s a huge opportunity. It’s really a new channel, another channel of revenue for companies, brands, influencers. Pretty much anybody who is highly active on the platform. And I believe that will definitely continue. Because the platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, TikTok, they’re very inspirational.

Mary Rodgers:
And it’s a different way to present the products to the consumer in a more aspirational, inspirational environment. And I think that that’s why consumers find it so appealing and are willing to shop within that platform.

Mina Fader :
Have you been using social for instance, in Asia? Because I think their use of social is probably more advanced than what we do here in the United States. At least it’s different. And they have all sorts of things like group purchasing. We have live streaming here, but it’s far more extensively used over there. Have you seen differences in that across different regions and anything to talk about there?

Mary Rodgers:
Yeah, I would say for our business, the biggest problem is, especially for our brand team in Asia is content. They struggle having enough content. So, they are heavily reliant on us for that. They are building out that business there. And yes, you’re right. They’re completely using the platforms differently than we are.

Mary Rodgers:
But our team struggles with having, not just enough content, but also culturally correct content. And also, our products can be slightly different in different countries. And so that makes it more complicated because we are not all selling the same, exact thing. So content that I’m developing for something here may not even exist in that marketplace.

Mina Fader :
Ron, how about for you?

Ron Thurston:
Yeah, I love the conversation about understanding where your customer is. I know we’re focused here on back to school. And so I think it’s really trying to understand where are these kids who are very much influencing the decisions maybe more today than ever? Where are they spending their time?

Ron Thurston:
Is it Snapchat? Is it through Instagram? Where are they shopping? What are they doing? How are they finding your brand? And that you show up there in a way that’s relevant to them. So I think it’s actually on the brand’s responsibility to go back in and listen and learn and ask. And see where are they spending their time? How can I be relevant to that audience?

Ron Thurston:
I spent some time last weekend watching the show on HBO called Generation, which for some reason I avoided it. And I’m like, “That doesn’t look that interesting.” I learned so much about what high school-age kids, how they spend their time on social.

Ron Thurston:
And it was very educational for me as someone who doesn’t have teenage children. And I’m like, “Okay, I get it now. I understand how they’re spending their time, how they’re engaging with each other in new ways that I don’t think I even understood.” And so, every chance we have, I think we have to get out of our comfort zone and ask questions and observe.

Ron Thurston:
And I spend time every day in New York City on the subway. It’s very interesting to see how teenage kids interact with social. And I think we have to identify that every brand has the chance to do that when it comes to seasons like back to school and how you can be relevant to them.

Mina Fader :
My son allowed me to take a look at his Instagram. Allowed is too strong of a word. He was showing me something from his Instagram is how I should put it. And he was showing me some of his friends, some of his female friends that would take pictures everywhere with them out someplace wearing something. And they would then hashtag whatever the brand is that they were wearing.

Mina Fader :
And some of them would actually end up getting a private message back saying, “Would you like to be an influencer? Or can we use some of this stuff?” And it’s been interesting how authentic it is. Now, I keep hearing about it in the news and in all the retail stuff I read, but to actually see that in action and then to see the number of followers that they have and the growth that’s happening.

Mina Fader :
We talked about authenticity on the last set of questions. This is another area where social media and authenticity versus these big time influencers and what that means. I mean, I just think that whole shift has been interesting to see.

Ron Thurston:
Great.

Mina Fader :
And fun to see the reality of the younger generation playing a significant role in influencing what I choose to wear and what becomes the next set of styles.

Ron Thurston:
Yeah. And those affiliate programs that brands now have to encourage this. And say, “We’re going to sign up for our affiliate program. Tag us. We’ll follow you through cookies and such to understand your impact and we’ll pay you for it.”

Mina Fader :
Yeah.

Ron Thurston:
It’s great. And it’s also less expensive from a marketing perspective to run an affiliate program than hiring someone that has a million followers.

Mina Fader :
Absolutely, absolutely. It’s so fun to see. Thank you, everybody. I think this comes to the end of our show here, but I really appreciate Mary and Ron, your participation.

Ron Thurston:
Thank you so much.

Mary Rodgers:
It was great.