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Redefining Claire’s for the next generation

Retail Gets Real Episode 299: CMO Kristin Patrick on how the 62-year-old jewelry and accessories company keeps it fresh and fun for every generation

For many customers of a certain age, Claire’s is a brand that evokes a strong sense of nostalgia — it’s where they got their ears pierced or bought their first piece of trendy jewelry or accessory.

“I think what makes Claire's near and dear to people's hearts is that you often experience it during a rite of passage the first time you go. That’s often when you're getting a first piercing,” says Chief Marketing Officer Kristin Patrick on this special episode of the Retail Gets Real podcast, recorded live at NRF 2023: Retail’s Big Show in New York City.

The original founder of the company, Rowland Schaefer, “used to say that the company and the brand was ageless, and it serviced customers between the ages of two to 92,” she says. “You walk into a Claire’s and it is just fun, and it doesn’t matter how old you are.”

NRF 2023

Did you miss us in NYC? Take a look at our NRF 2023: Retail's Big Show event recap.

Patrick, a retail veteran who has worked at The Walt Disney Co., Calvin Klein, Gap, Lucky, Revlon and PepsiCo, was brought in to redefine the brand for a new generation and make it relevant again.

“I think a lot of times a brand reboot helps to set the vision for the rest of the company because you're listening to consumers,” she says. “The first thing I did was try to understand who the founder was and what his vision was, and I really got in there and started talking to this generation. I'm sort of lucky because my daughter's Gen Z, and so it's like I have a built-in focus group with her and her friends.”

Today Claire’s marketing strategy is focused on Generation Z and the Alphas, or what Patrick calls “Gen Zalphas.” Part of that means going where this new generation of customers is spending its time, including TikTok and the metaverse. In October, Claire’s debuted ShimmerVille on Roblox, a digital world to explore, work, play, shop and connect with friends.

“If anybody should be there, it's Claire's, because it's so our consumer,” Patrick says.

Listening to customers has also helped Claire’s tap into what they want next, including apparel, home accessories and even cafés. “This is a generation that tells you what they think,” she says. “So, we're constantly talking to them.”

Listen to the full episode to hear more about Patrick’s career journey in retail, Claire’s partnerships with Walmart and Macy’s, the importance of a brand’s design language and how the Claire’s team stays on top of the latest trends.

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