May 8, 2024

Lisa Bubbers @Studs

Retail & eCom, the one-two punch for evolving an entrenched category.

On the latest episode of the Omnichannel Marketer, I spoke with Lisa Bubbers, Chief Marketing and Brand Officer at Studs.

Studs is a new entrant in the ear piercing category – positioning itself as a piercing company instead of an earring brand. 

In contrast to Claire’s or the mall kiosk which is where children go to get their first piercing with a piercing gun (myself included), Studs focuses on needle piercings for return piercers. 

The idea came from getting a second ear piercing at a tattoo parlor, which was a sub-optimal experience. 

Part of this less ideal experience was a disconnect between the act of piercing and picking an earring that you li

Most people get their ears pierced with an earring they don’t care for, and have to wait until the piercing heals to replace it with something more fashionable that they purchased elsewhere.  

Studs fuses the retail piercing experience with fashionable lines of earrings that can be worn out of the store, and purchased online.

Lisa created the term “earscaping” to create conversation around the art and science of getting ear piercings that work with your anatomy and personal style. 

The brand started with a single studio in NoLita in 2019 and now has 25 locations across the country. 

A brand with fused retail and e-commerce presence, Lisa defines omnichannel as:

🔀 Offline to Online

🔀 Online to Offline

🔀 Moving customers between channels to drive the best LTV

The first couple of years was all about opening new stores and getting scale in retail. 

In the last couple of years, the team reoriented to understanding omnichannel data and customer behavior.

For Studs, their in-store piercing service creates the highest LTV customers, 2-3x ecom first customers. 

Those buyers have a very high repeat rate to online purchases, instore purchases, and another instore piercing. 

Studs uses two mechanisms to get people to return to the store or online. 

1️⃣  Education - nurturing on ear piercing health with ability to come back for questions, help etc.

2️⃣  Earing size changes - as the piercing heals, Studs will help downsize to smaller jewelry.

Consequently, retail expansion is still a primary focus because it is the best vehicle for profitable customer acquisition and creating word of mouth.

A store in the right location returns its investment quickly and is profitable. 

Studs does not spend a lot of money on digital marketing. 

Half the battle is won by strong store co-location; near a Lululemon, Warby Parker, and Van Llewyn, where their Gen Z and millennial customers spend time.

The stores are designed to be “Instagrammable,” so customers share their new piercing UGC, creating network effects on social media. 

The other major source of customers is from people searching for “needle piercings near me” on Google and Studs is doing a great job with local SEO to capture that intent.

This results in great foot traffic, word of mouth, and impulse purchases. 

Studs does spend some on influencers and SEM, but most customers come through the organic channels described above. 

#omnichannel #retailexperience