Sneakerheads and ice cream aficionados unite

Visitors wait in line at the KITH grand opening on Friday, July 5. Kith, a lifestyle business that also offers an ice-creamand cereal bar, is the first business in the news Cross Creek Ranch complex. Contributed photo

Kith, the first business in Cross Creek Ranch, opens to great fanfare, emulating a secret to successful retail in Malibu

By Barbara Burke

Special to The Malibu Times

Curious passersby craned their necks trying to catch a glimpse of just how long the crowd was as excited consumers queued in front of Kith with great anticipation on July 4. The first business to open in the Cross Creek Ranch, a property that ultimately will house a multitude of retail, restaurant, and office tenants in its 11 buildings, Kith is a lifestyle brand that offers its ever-popular sneakers, shoes, bags, men’s, women’s, and kid’s apparel and accessories. 

Frankie’s Bikinis will open mid-July and ChitchatCoffee + Matcha and Sunroom will open afterward, according to a representative from Pacific Equity Partners, which developed the retail center. Clark’s Oyster bar is one of the tenants in design, in plan check or under construction, the representative added.

Kith enjoys great customer loyalty — after all, sneakerheads and fashionistas can revel in the store’s latest signature collection and they can enjoy one of the ever-evolving treats offered at the business’ ice cream and cereal bar.

“I have been following the Kith brand for 10 years now,” said Keith Patiag as he chatted with others in the long line that showed up again on July 6. “I like how they mix up their styles, and my son and I like the ice cream.”

Kith has a signature flavor of ice cream or cereal, no?

“Like their merchandise, they’re always changing things and offering new flavors of ice cream and cereals,” Patiag said.    

Dropping a line

It used to be that when one dropped a line, he sent a message to someone. In a manner of speaking, that is still the meaning of the phrase in retail — only with a twist.  Retailers such as Kith keep consumers intrigued — and opening their wallets — as they periodically drop new lines of their fashion offerings, announcing the timing of the newproducts well ahead of time — and often — to keep customers excited and engaged. 

If you’re in the know, as in if you sign up for the company’s loyalty program, you’ll get emails teasing about the latest apparel offerings before they’re on show. The second tier of Kith Loyalty™ offers customers early and exclusive access to products, including made-to-order capsule collections. Of course, there’s a Malibu edition.

Kith is just one in a plethora of retailers to build and keep customer loyalty by offering fun experiences, in addition tomerchandise.

Events as an in-person customer patronage accelerator for Malibu retail

The Trancas lawn was crawling with people on the early evening of July 5, the heatwave notwithstanding.  Boutiques stayed open, and restaurant waiters scurried around to keep up with customer orders. On a summer weekend night, when many locals recoil in horror and stay home due to the tourists inundating our town and the attendant snarling traffic, the weekly Friday night concert had attracted a very large crowd again, including many locals. Fallen Angels was playing, so many Malibuites braved traffic and schlepped to Trancas.

The Trancas retail and restaurant community has figured out that events draw customers, both local and from out of town.  The Friday evening concerts really draw crowds — crowds that browse through the retail stores often purchasing merchandise, and crowds that patronize the restaurants.  When there are no concerts or other events, very often, there is a noticeable paucity of customers.

So, what gives? Is there economic or marketing data to substantiate the hypothesis that frequent hosting of varied events attracts in-person customers in our hurried world usually primarily immersed in online retail?

Yes, with a qualifier: Research establishes that the trick is to provide experiential shopping opportunities for patrons — experiences that the customers will be delighted to post on social media. According to data from Pew Research, 74 percent of Americans under 30 years old and 53 percent of Americans aged 30 to 49 use five or more social media platforms — and they are all looking for content to post. Creating social media moments and campaigns has a dual benefit: they create a buzz and drive foot traffic to the property and shared photos promote the property and support digital marketing efforts.

It’s called omnichannel marketing, a buzzword that refers to a streamlined retailing strategy. 

Omnichannel anticipates that customers may start in one channel — such as social media, a retailers’ app, browsing a website online — and enables customers to seamlessly segue across all channels, including participating in a brick-and-mortar, enjoying a fun event. Structuring one’s marketing to provide a seamless, integrated, and consistent shopping experience is the key to retail success.

Against that backdrop — both Kith and the Trancas Country Market consortium of businesses are both firing on all cylinders.