When drawing up its fall campaign, lingerie brand Natori relied on machine learning and artificial intelligence to help it figure out what creative would resonate with audiences.

The brand’s “My Natori” campaign features a set of diverse models of different size and age ranges, wearing not just the brand’s newest pieces but also its highest-performing classic collections. To figure out the direction of the campaign, including where the creative would live and what it would feature, the brand looked to artificial intelligence platform Albert to determine what would drive the most sales. To get there, it analyzed the brand’s first-party customer database to cast models and decide what products to showcase.

Beyond guiding the creative direction for the campaign, Albert’s platform also helped the brand carve out a new distribution strategy, by targeting different demographics across social media channels. More broadly, the brand has been using artificial intelligence to improve its social media marketing strategy, which accounts for 25 percent of its overall ad spend, since April.

“This campaign is the biggest representation of what our data can tell us,” said Ken Natori, the brand’s president. “We used to promote the newest collections, and with this, we’re promoting customer favorites. It’s not going to get fashion editors excited, but this is going to be what’s successful for our customers.”

Natori’s new AI-driven marketing strategy is part of the brand’s overall push to reach customers directly. In the past three years, the brand has invested more of its marketing budget in its social media strategy, built a new website, and built a customer data platform to track and understand customer behavior around actions like online searches, site browsing, purchases and returns. While Natori said the brand received some feedback from its wholesale accounts, the brand largely knew nothing about what trends customers wanted, which styles it should invest in, how to manage inventory appropriately and how to reach customers more effectively in marketing campaigns.

Natori said the brand is spending more on digital marketing overall, with more online ad placements and social media retargeting spend taking over what used to be allotted for magazine ad spreads. The strategy is more detailed, too, meaning the brand can change the creative imagery that will target each age demographic. With this strategy, the brand saw return on ad spend increase for women in the 25 to 34 age range by 250 percent.

“Brands recognize a need to create a direct to consumer channel today,” said Mark Kirschner, CMO of Albert. “They came to us about a year ago, and they recognized that they didn’t have the resources to create, run and grow a social campaign in an intelligent way.”

With its own customer data platform in place, Natori was able track what type of imagery and marketing strategies drive people to the site, what they click on and what converts. Ken Natori said the brand’s social spending is now more tailored along concrete, granular guidelines, rather than just sending out the same campaign to every channel and hoping for the best.

“We have more information around what creative and distribution will work, and this can then inform what we invest in more for a season and what we think could be changed,” said Natori. “Designer brands have been brewing direct businesses, and for us, we have more data than we know what to do with. Just increasing the amount of data doesn’t really mean core competencies and strategy follow, though, so that’s where external partners come in.”

Natori said, internally, the brand restructured its marketing team to bring all of its creative work in-house alongside its branding and performance marketing teams. He added that internal departments that may have once stayed stagnant are constantly reconsidered to account for the flow of data and how to manage it most effectively.

“The fashion world has changed immensely,” said Natori. “We’ve had to push ourselves, as a 41-year-old company, to be as progressive as possible. The only way to keep up with the times is to push the needle.”

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