Keds CMO Emily Culp: Knowing the Consumer

Colloquium on Marketing Leadership

Emily Culp, the chief marketing office for Keds since 2015, spoke to students at the Yale School of Management in an October 4 event sponsored by the Center for Customer Insights. Founded in 1916, Keds created the first sneaker for women. The company is celebrating its centennial this year.

In marketing, the whole reason you’re here—beyond servicing and adding value to the shareholders in your company—is it’s all about your consumer. So if you’re not obsessed with him, her, or whomever, you can’t do your job well. And by that, I mean that there is never enough data, whether it’s quantitative or not, so listen to your consumer. Study and love your consumer.

I’m fascinated by our consumer. One of the biggest treats for me that’s like a guilty pleasure is social media, our social media and seeing what our consumers are doing. Who is she around the world? I get to physically see her now, then I get to see comments by her. This is where I love digital, because you’re continuously connected at any hour, anywhere in the world. I can see what she’s doing.

And then when I’m traveling or out, whether it’s through airports or in a store, I will listen to consumers shopping with friends or parents or whatever, and just watch them in a natural environment versus a more contrived focus group. I think it’s really important to have this solid understanding. Of course we have data—we have numerous studies, NPDs, market shares; you have all that, but you also have to have that emotional passion and love and study her, because she’s fascinating.Emily Culp, Chief Marketing Office, Keds

About the Event

How does a century-old brand modernize to advance its image while still honoring its heritage? The iconic shoemaker Keds grapples with this problem every day. In her talk, Keds’ CMO Emily Culp will discuss the challenge of giving the heritage brand resonance with the millennial consumer. Culp will talk about her nontraditional, non-linear ascent in the marketing world, her trailblazing work in digital marketing, and how she sees the marketing industry evolving in the coming years. 

Event tags

Speakers

Emily Culp

CMO of Keds

Emily joined the Keds team in 2015 as chief marketing officer of the iconic footwear brand. She is responsible for driving the strategic development and execution of Keds’ global marketing initiatives including retail development, omni-channel...

Emily joined the Keds team in 2015 as chief marketing officer of the iconic footwear brand. She is responsible for driving the strategic development and execution of Keds’ global marketing initiatives including retail development, omni-channel marketing, digital, PR and content. Emily was recently recognized on the Adweek 50 List and as a “CMO Rising Star” at the 2015 CMO Awards for her marketing leadership. Prior to joining Keds, Emily led the e-commerce and omni-channel marketing teams at Rebecca Minkoff, with a focus on consumer marketing. She was a leader in the creation of the brand’s innovative NYC flagship “store of the future” and architect of the company’s digital strategies and new online experience. Additionally, Emily’s career history includes over ten years of experience leading global brand teams at worldwide agencies (Ogilvy, Digitas and Arnold) as well as marketing leadership roles with the Estee Lauder Co. and Unilever. Emily frequently lectures at Columbia University (where she holds her MBA) and The Stern School for Business (NYU), and has spoken at numerous industry events such as Shop.org, NRF, Google Retail Summit, and SXSW. She holds a BA from Wake Forest University, and lives in Boston with her husband and two children.