Video: Insights and tips from Chico’s CIO


Our “Nuts & Bolts of Social Media” video series carries on with a new interview between SAS’ Deb Orton and Gary King, CIO of national clothing retailer Chico’s.

Gary begins with a brief story of how Chico’s started as a small store selling folk art (Really? Yes, really.), before transforming into an apparel company with three brands (Chico's, White House | Black Market and Soma Intimates) and 1,100 stores across the US and Puerto Rico.

Gary goes on to discuss the demographics of their brands, and the challenges of a constantly changing marketplace.

“The advent of the Internet,” Gary says, “was a huge shift in the way people shopped. We spend a lot of time now browsing before we buy, and that has radically changed the concept of shopping.” The good part, for Chico’s anyway, is customers still want to touch and feel clothing – which makes Chico’s in-store experience tremendously important.

But don’t think Chico’s ignores the Internet or Social media.

On the contrary, Social media is a huge focus. All three brands are on Facebook, and have been for years.

Gary related one successful project, where their intimate apparel brand Soma hosted a four-hour Facebook pajama party where fans could “celebrate and share their thoughts about their favorite pajamas, movies, stories and recipes, as well as participate in personality quizzes and surveys and chat with Soma Intimates style experts.”

In another example, the White House | Black Market brand president incentivized people to participate in a “what color underwear are you wearing” survey on Facebook by giving away a gift card and shopping spree.

Deb and Gary went on to discuss who should ‘own’ Social media organizationally (“everyone” says Gary), what the future of Social media looks like (social media will evolve in the same way fashion does), what Social media IT implications there are (many).

Before closing, Gary offers two practical Social media tips:

  1. Embrace the Social media space. From an IT standpoint don’t keep it out, bring it in. And,
  2. Find the champions inside your organization who are the conduits to the Social media space. Partner with them to support, enable, and create the mechanisms by which they can be more effective.

Enjoy the video!



About Author

Justin Huntsman

Customer Intelligence Marketing Manager

I'm Justin Huntsman, a field marketer on the SAS Customer Intelligence team. I'm the editor of the SAS Customer Analytics blog, where my colleagues, friends and I discuss the challenges today’s marketers face in finding profitable growth opportunities, taking the best marketing actions, and maximizing cross-business impact.


  1. This is definitely a great example of how one can leverage social media to generate a loyal customer base, know what customers what and innovated based on those findings. Surveys through social media are more accurate and save a lot of time and money. What better way to get biased feedback from your customers. Love chicos by the way.

  2. social media has become massively important recently, and i think people are starting to wake up to this. Definitely something you should try and incorporate rather than exclude.

  3. Justin Huntsman on

    Great question Roger.
    I’m not sure anyone has a clear understanding of how location is going to impact social media or marketing, in the next few years. Here is one report, titled “Location Based Services in 2014” There is a log of good information and reasoned predictions in here.
    Have you come across other reports – or do you have thoughts to share re location and social strategy? Please share!

  4. I have seen several reports dating as far back as the 90's talking about location based advertising and marketing but the technology has not really been available until recently. Still though I think advertisers and retailers are still testing the waters on how effective location based marketing can be. And how to effectively measure it. From a retailers perspective I think knowing your customers and your audience is an important side-effect of this technology and will (hopefully) allow retailers, even if they don't offer deals, to be able to respond to their customers and interact with them on a more personal level.

  5. Justin Huntsman on

    I fully agree with you. And great point too, about location data helping retailers to create a fuller view of their customers. Perhaps a good question to ask in future interviews we host. Thanks again!

  6. Yes even Gary mentions it in his interview regarding trying to mine the inundation of social data coming in. Working with data is a great place to be right now.

  7. Pingback: 2010: Our Ten Most Popular Blog Entries - Customer Analytics

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