“A CMO’s connection & understanding of their customer is so important.” Interview with Miki Racine Berardelli, CEO, KIDBOX & Transformational CMO Keynote Speaker

 -Miki Racine Berardelli, CEO, KIDBOX & Former President, Digital Commerce & Chief Marketing Officer, EVP, Chico’s FAS (2)

With just a few weeks to go until the Transformational CMO Assembly, we sat down with Keynote Speaker Miki Racine Berardelli, CEO, KIDBOX to get her insight into the complex marketing environment.

Having held several top positions at major US brands, how has marketing evolved during your career?

MRB: In so many ways! I guess I would say that the biggest changes in marketing during my career have been the growth in digital and ecommerce, the emergence and explosion of social media, and the rise of mobile. These three shifts in the marketplace truly put the customer in charge and led to brands and retailers diversifying their marketing portfolio, investing more heavily in new channels and developing new measurement methodologies.

The Subscription Economy is a great example of how ideas can disrupt traditional markets. What excited you about the opportunity to work with this disruptive business model?

MRB: While KIDBOX is a box business, we are not a subscription service. Customers have the freedom to opt in / opt out of each seasonal box as they choose. It was important to us to remove any of the obstacles from the shopping experience for our customers. We offer free shipping, free returns & exchanges, and a seven-day window to try on the items and decide what to keep.

You have worked for established brands and now a startup, KIDBOX. What have been the challenges to building a brand from the ground up?

MRB: While I have worked for much larger companies in the past, I have always worked within the highest growth, entrepreneurial divisions of the businesses. I was part of the leadership team that helped grow Tory Burch into a billion dollar global brand, so I learned a lot from that experience.

I am a builder and become uninspired very quickly when I am merely maintaining business vs. truly driving growth. Building a brand and a company culture from the ground up were the primary reasons I took the job as CEO at KIDBOX. It is such a rare opportunity to know each and every building block within the business and to be involved in the recruitment and hiring of the entire team. Culture is extremely important to me and I always “hire happy and humble.” I like to hire Tiggers, not Eeyores, people who take the job seriously but don’t take themselves too seriously and bring laughter, high spirits and high performance to work each and every day. It’s not always easy to find these people, but it’s definitely worth the hunt! 

What advice would you give to startup founders?

MRB: Buckle your seat belt! Each day brings a new challenge, a new problem to solve. Agility is essential, the ability to pivot, reprioritize and move swiftly. We always have one foot in the tactical / day to day and the other in the longer-term/strategic. It’s also important to find strong investor partnerships, whether it be Venture Capital or Private Equity. You want your investors to allow you to run the business but be there for you when you hit a roadblock, provide “value add,” and have a shared vision for growth.

Retailers have started their back-to-school marketing campaigns earlier than ever before this year. What marketing strategies are most important for this back-to-school season?

MRB: We actually decided to focus more on the “wear now” effect of back to school this year and it has proven out that parents delayed their back to school shopping quite significantly year over year. We know that many of our customers live in regions where children head back to the classroom in mid-August and others who start school after Labor Day, so we worked hard to tap into the perfect timing through all of our marketing efforts.

In a recent interview with Demand Jump, you spoke about how Social Media has been an effective tool for Kidbox. Can you tell our readers a little about you have leveraged these channels?

MRB: The KIDBOX experience lends itself perfectly to social media because parents and children receive the box that they have been anticipating, unpack the items and have little “mini fashion shows” in the living room of their home. Parents snap photos and videos and immediately post them on Facebook and Instagram, creating buzz and word of mouth in their social communities. We listen closely to our customers and brand advocates through social media and often address customer service inquiries directly through these channels. We are now focused on leveraging Instagram and Pinterest to really “own” street style for children, showcasing our brands and how we style them together to create the unique personalities of our boxes for each child.

Digital transformation has also led to an explosion of data. Marketers now have more information at their fingertips than ever before. How do you leverage data?

MR: KIDBOX is a technology and data-driven company. We are powered by proprietary data science and machine-learning algorithms that leverage customer preferences, data points, and KPIs to assort the perfect box for a size 7 sporty boy, for example. As customers stay with us, we continue to collect data and add that to the algorithm to continually perfect the box so that each one is even better than the last. Retail is all about technology and data today, combined with the “art” of brand building and providing a differentiated customer experience.

Culture and leadership can make or break a company’s digital transformation. What advice would you give to leaders who are leading the digital charge in their businesses?

MRB: First of all, digital is not a channel, it is a medium and a mindset that must transcend all aspects of a business, brand, and company, and that starts at the top. I believe digital adoption, growth, and empowerment should be shared by all employees within a company, at all levels of the organization. CEOs should have their finger on the pulse of the conversation taking place about their brand throughout social media and customer service. A brands social media channels are the CEO’s new focus group – much more honest, accurate and in-the-moment than the more clinical focus group of yesterday.

What does the future hold for Kidbox?

MRB: KIDBOX was founded with a social mission at our core. We work with Delivering Good, an amazing organization, to provide brand new clothing for children in need. These can be children living in poverty, foster care, environmental disaster or have parents who are incarcerated. For every box kept, we provide clothing to a child in need and we are on a mission to clothe one million children, one box at a time.

As a business, we are laser-focused on building a best-in-class team and company culture and delivering the most phenomenal customer experience against our brand promise for each and every one of our customers, parents, and children. From there, we look to adding new brands to our assortment and offering, exploring new categories of product, perhaps expanding internationally, and continuing to perfect our technology and data science.

What advice would you share with CMO’s who are looking to become a CEO in the future?

MRB: Go for it! Seize this moment where a CMO’s connection and understanding of their customer is so important. I am pleased to see more and more CMO’s evolving into CEO’s when historically it was more common for executives in merchandising, operations or finance to rise through the ranks. The modern day CMO possesses a balance of “right” and “left” brain, the ability to navigate “art” as well as “science.” This is evermore the table stakes of building a brand and a business today. As a woman, I have a sense of duty to serve as CEO at a time when there are still too few women in C-level positions, sitting on boards or in the CEO chair, especially when women control the preponderance of consumer decision-making.

With only a couple of months until you keynote the Transformational CMO Assembly, can you tell us what you’re looking forward to discussing at the event?

MRB: I only hope that I provide the audience with something to take away that is of value and that they can apply immediately to their work. I have learned from so many amazing speakers and mentors in my career, so it’s important to me to pay it forward.

What do you see as the benefits for C-Level executives attending an event like ours?

MRB: Attendees should be looking forward, excited to meet new people, expand their professional network and connect with like-minded professionals who are likely facing many of the same challenges. I am excited about the intimate setting, fireside chat format, and of course, being in the amazing city of Denver. I am a life-long skier, so Denver has always been the conduit to the Rocky Mountains for me, my absolute favorite place on earth.

You speak at multiple events, what stood out to you about the Transformational CMO Assembly and encouraged you to attend as a Keynote Speaker?

MRB: I try to only speak at events where I have an authentic connection or I believe I can provide value to the audience. When I learned about the Transformational CMO Assembly, I felt that it was the perfect forum to connect with those who have pursued a similar path as mine, but also who are on the bleeding edge of all things digital, innovative and brand building. It is important to me to encourage marketers to pursue their ambitions and see themselves as a future CEO.

Miki Racine Berardelli, CEO, KIDBOX


There is still time to join us at the Transformational CMO Assembly, featuring Keynote Speaker Miki Racine Berardelli, CEO, KIDBOX. 

Miki will be joining fellow Keynote Eileen Campbell, Founder, Womintuition and Former CMO, IMAX & Former Global CEO, Millward Brown for a unique Fireside Chat.

The Fireside Chat, hosted by The Millennium Alliance, facilitates debate and discussion around the future of marketing and the ever-evolving role of the CMO.

It could not be easier to sign-up! Simply, visit the website for more information >

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