How Rockport President Steve Holt Is Using Data & ‘Subtle’ Changes to Engage Younger Consumers

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As Rockport marks its 50th anniversary this year, new president Steve Holt is capitalizing on the brand’s legacy strengths in order to attract the next generation of fans.

Holt was promoted to president in May after spending nearly 18 years at the brand at various times, filling multiple positions that were focused primarily on growing Rockport’s overseas business. In his new role, the U.K. native has been learning the ins and outs of the U.S. market and helping to hone the brand strategy using a data-driven approach.

“We have to reach a slightly younger consumer to move our brand forward,” said Holt, who is based in the Waltham, Mass., headquarters. “So we’ve been doing a lot of work, digging into data and we’ve crafted a strategic playbook to go after some of those big opportunities,”

...You’ve said a key focus is targeting younger consumers. How are you going about — through marketing, product design or all of the above?

Steve Holt: “You don’t want to all of a sudden say, ‘We’re going to go for a younger consumer.’ You can’t do that. It’s got to be very subtle in your approach. We partner with First Insight to collect data, and it’s created a really interesting journey. We can get this data on certain styles that we feel confident in. But is that slightly younger consumer gravitating to those styles — to the aesthetics, to the technology in our shoes? And the answer is yes. The good news for us is that where we’re starting to engage that slightly younger consumer, without alienating our core consumer. And actually we’re starting to see our sales volume increasing with the core consumer too, because they’re engaged with our new marketing approach and the ambassadors we’re using around the world.”

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