Levi’s is making a comeback. Since joining as CEO in 2011, Chip Bergh has restored the iconic brand not just to profitability, but to prominence in American culture. And new customer acquisition programs are driving its success.
The company has refocused its positioning for women and renewed efforts to reach a younger audience. And now Levi’s is using a gated, exclusive offer to the military to expand into another high-value segment.
Engaging Military Customers through Shared Beliefs
According to Bergh, consumers “want to buy brands that represent a good value but also that have good values.” Levi’s new gated offer to the military delivers both by providing value to the consumer while also reflecting Levi’s brand values.
The offer gives active duty military, reservists, national guard, veterans, and retirees 15% off all Levi’s apparel. That kind of value greatly appeals to military consumers: 95% of the military are more likely to shop with a brand that gives them a gated discount.
The offer also expresses the values held by both Levi’s and the military. Levi Strauss founded Levi’s to meet the need among hardworking people for “clothes built to endure anything.” More than 150 years later, the company continues to be guided by originality, integrity, and courage—values likely to resonate with the military, who prize fearlessness, hard work, and rugged durability.
The Power of Identity-Driven New Customer Acquisition
Gated offers are a powerful approach to new customer acquisition because they are rooted in the buyer’s identity, which taps into their deep sense of belonging to a group. When a brand gives customers an exclusive offer, it fosters a richer connection because it demonstrates that the brand truly sees who they are.
Gated offers also impact shoppers far beyond transactions driven by a universal discount. According to our survey, 54% of consumers say a gated offer would make them feel rewarded, 47% would feel excited, and 35% feel special. And more than two-thirds of shoppers say gated offers carry more weight than traditional discounts.
This kind of identity-driven marketing makes consumers act. Receiving a gated offer would make four out of five consumers more likely to choose a brand, and nearly three out of five consumers make a purchase sooner.
Digital Verification Protects the Offer and Drives Loyalty
Like other major retailers, including Converse, American Giant, and Urban Outfitters, Levi’s used SheerID’s Digital Verification Platform to implement its offer to ensure only members of the military segment can redeem it.
Customers simply provide minimal personal information, such as birth date and branch of service, and SheerID issues a coupon code they can use at checkout.
The offer honors military customers, and the verification process ensures their data is safe and raises the value of the discount by making it truly exclusive.
The seamless process occurs entirely within Levi’s brand, which creates a positive experience that drives new customer acquisition and loyalty. The military is a tight-knit community, so that loyalty spreads. Seventy-six percent of the military say they learn about military discounts through word of mouth.
Respecting Consumer Privacy is Good for Business
Gated offers also honor consumers’ need for privacy. Ninety-two percent of survey respondents said knowing their personal information wouldn’t be shared if they redeemed an exclusive offer is important to them.
Brands that provide gated offers also facilitate consumer trust: 57% of consumers want companies to use a third-party verification system. Brands benefit directly, too. Third-party verification spares them the challenge and risks of having to directly manage personally identifiable information (PII).
Using Zero-Party Data to Nurture Customer Relationships
The good news is that privacy and personalization can coexist.
While some brands use affiliates to reach specific market segments, these third parties attempt to create consumer loyalty for their own self-interest, not for the brands they represent. Digital verification puts the power back into the hands of the brand.
This consent-based approach to marketing—where customers share minimal personal data to redeem exclusive promotions—enables brands to leverage first-party data to build a direct relationship with the customer.
Other leading brands with gated military offers do this well. SmileDirectClub, the at-home teeth-straightening service, nurtures long-term engagement by providing access to partner discounts and exclusive events, such as the opportunity to participate in professional photo shoots.
And Lowe’s provides members of its MyLowe’s loyalty program with free gifts, like light bulbs and charcoal.
Tapping into a $1 Trillion Market
Levi’s CEO Chip Bergh came to Levi’s in part because of the company’s long history of “profits through principles” and a fundamental belief that customers will reward you for operating with integrity.
The company’s gated military offer is a perfect example of this values-led initiative. It gives Levi’s access to a segment that has 37 million members with $1 trillion in spending power. And it also raises brand awareness among the hundreds of millions of civilians who support them.
This new customer acquisition strategy has proven to be successful, too. After launching its Hero Discount, Kettlebell Kitchen saw an 83% weekly increase in new military and first responder customers and a 6x jump in subscriptions. And when American Giant targeted the military with a gated offer, it generated 6,000 unique new orders.