What you can learn from Ulta Beauty’s marketing mix with Kate Spade


Identify, Understand, Educate, Promise and Fulfill. Is it marketing or experience design? Is it both? The closer we get to marketing in digital spaces* being truly organic and less on mobile sites with pop-ups and interruptions, the more marketing and experience design (XD)** begin to intersect.

Previously, software experiments were only about performing tasks and the learning curve needed to make that software work was accepted as inevitable. There was no expectation for ease of use and the competitive landscape was much smaller. The same can be said of marketing; when the pool of offers and services was significantly reduced, you gained in volume or recommendation. There are now deep expectations for human-computer interactions, low friction expectations when it comes to a system or entity, and more choices than there are biting Tweets. Volume rarely wins unless the traffic spend is massive or the niche is narrow. Both of these are the result of crowded and noisy markets and far more noise than signal. So what did marketing do? What did XD do? They are turning to delivering more personalized and personal interactions and messages. These are no longer driven by raw demographics and forty pieces of car dealership push cards in my mailbox, but by extrapolated wants and needs drawn from human voices and applied to personalized outreach.

  1. XD uses ceremonies and activities to discover and define our version of market valuation and segmentation.
  2. XD prototypes and iterations based on focus groups, unmoderated testing, validation of business requirements and the elements they expose. This is our audience test.
  3. XD seeks to remove uninteresting, unused, or unnecessary parts of a decision tree (traverse if we must lingo) based on the answer and introduce a version without those elements to approximate the intent and outcome. It is our food.
  4. XD uses continuous feedback to improve, refine, and in some cases recommend next steps, products, tweaks, or increases. This is our remarketing/retargeting, this is how we adjust the “campaign”.

And these are only the most obvious fibers of the common thread shared by the disciplines. Others with a deeper knowledge of both subjects can certainly add ten times more to this list. The essence of this review is to ask the question: should marketing and experience design work in tandem? Under a single shingle? Can they co-exist as a federated faction under the larger CX umbrella?

They are both part of a unified journey and natural progression from first exposure to adoption at “damn I love this stuff I think I’ll TikTok on this» for products and services. This kind of merger could serve a common purpose; unwavering brand commitment.

The people who consume whatever is on offer don’t see us, the company, the thing, as a bunch of siled pods walking loosely in the same direction. They see us as a whole and our disciplines should support this impression.

Marketers and people with experience – get on board! Learn about each other’s products and goals, share what works and definitely what doesn’t. Gang XD, I mean really combine to achieve specific goals. Don’t just send them a Jake Knapp YouTube, find common goals. And marketing parents, that means more than quoting some Sprinklr data and the latest NPS regarding SEO trends. Turn Wonder Twin into a test and proof machine, use HCD tactics to discover new copying strategies, and test it with a group in a Pepsi/Coke standoff. I know you A/B-inge your work, but you can narrow this lane before you tamper with it. We can learn from each other, we can greatly benefit from each other.

I bet we can forge something a little cooler than passing people through our cotton ginning business and expecting them to feel like we are one. What are the afterimages that last from when I see a LinkedIn post, follow the affiliate, subscribe/buy, and actually get something good out of the product? Don’t tell me there’s no marketing/design love affair here.

I look forward to following this up with a plan of action and (hopefully) killer results.

Be well, feel well and know peace.

*Experience Design as a proper name encompasses exactly what is in the eponymous name; experience is every interaction, passive or active, throughout the cycle. From the first awareness of a product or service to the lasting relationship established – this is the experience in this context.

**I’m not going to call it Digital Marketing anymore, pretty sure we don’t do direct mail with our IG ads


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