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Gated Offers Help Alex and Ani Create Emotional Connection with Shoppers

Alex and Ani's gated offer program uses student verification and military verification to provide a 15% discount to students and members of the military.

Gated Offers Help Alex and Ani Create Emotional Connection with Shoppers

by Tony Coray
Senior Content Strategist

Alex and Ani has a unique approach to making jewelry. The company’s founder, Carolyn Rafaelian, believes we are all interconnected by “signs, symbols and things that resonate to our core,” and her designs express an ancient wisdom she hopes will empower consumers and give them meaning and purpose.

This desire to energize and inspire her customers helped Rafaelian grow Alex and Ani into a $1.2 billion business, and the reason for her success is clear. Modern consumers are increasingly seeking emotional connection with brands, and by facilitating this bond, Alex and Ani has won the hearts – and wallets – of their customers.

One example of how Alex and Ani creates these kinds of individual experiences is the opportunity it gives shoppers to enter personal information (name, birthdate, inspirations, etc.) and receive a “blueprint” for jewelry – e.g. birthstone, numerology, Zodiac sign and other insights that helps customers understand what they need right now. This gives shoppers a piece of jewelry that reflects their state of being and is imbued with personal significance.

But the company doesn’t just personalize these kinds of individual interactions with buyers. It amplifies this approach with a marketing strategy that includes gated offers –  a customer acquisition tool that’s rooted in a person’s identity.

Gated Offers Recognize a Customer’s Special Status

Gated offers are promotions designed for members of a particular group based on their occupation (e.g. teacher), life stage (e.g. college student, senior) or affiliation (e.g. military.). Gated offer programs are powerful because they honor an individual’s distinctive status, which both evokes and satisfies a deep sense of belonging to a “tribe.” This exchange provides a meaningful experience that goes far beyond a typical purchase and unites a consumer and a brand.

Woman wearing Alex and Ani jewelry she purchased with a gated student offer.

Alex and Ani’s gated offer program taps into this sense of tribal belonging by providing a 15% discount to all college students and active duty military. The military discount is available both online and in stores, while the student offer is available online only – a smart move considering that segment’s proclivity for shopping online.

How to Use Gated Offers Successfully

Brands like Alex and Ani experience success with gated offers by following the following best practices.

Express Brand Identity to Spark Connection

Consider Alex and Ani’s Warriors of the Soul campaign, which features real-life leaders who are “redefining what it means to be a warrior with powerful intentions and positive vibes.” The women featured in this campaign represent strong role models that young college students and military members can undoubtedly relate to.

Another powerful message that connects the brand to its audience is the value of “Made in the USA.” Alex and Ani’s jewelry was first manufactured in a factory founded by Rafaelian’s father in 1966, and the company uses American materials. And designs like the Liberty Copper Collection, a series of pieces crafted with original copper preserved from the Statue of Liberty’s centennial restoration, reflect a patriotic spirit likely to resonate with the military audience.

Leverage Seasonal Interest

Alex and Ani found a captive audience by tying their military discount to Memorial Day, and their student discount to peak back-to-school shopping time. The company promoted the student offer broadly with an email blast on August 10, and their message, “Get ready to stack books and bangles,” appeals directly to students.

Make Promotion a Priority

In addition to targeted emails, Alex and Ani ensured the offers were high profile on their website. When they launched their military offer, they featured it on their home page, and they make both offers available ongoingly on a special landing page.

Embrace a “Consent-Based” Approach 

Gated offers help Alex and Ani connect with their buyers by allowing shoppers to opt-in to the relationship through the verification process. By providing the minimal information Alex and Ani needs to confirm their eligibility for the offer, members of these segments directly express their interest in Alex and Ani, and the company responds by nurturing the relationship over time.

Taking this approach made Alex and Ani’s gated offer programs highly effective. The number of customers who redeemed the offers quickly surpassed the company’s expectations.

A woman's hand featuring rings and bracelets from Alex and Ani. Customers opt-in to a relationship with Alex and Ani through gated offers.

Use Gated Offers to Connect with Lucrative Groups

By targeting students and the military, Alex and Ani is tapping into market segments with vast potential, and laying the groundwork to reach other “tribes” that are just as lucrative, such as teachers and seniors. And any brand that’s willing to leverage gated offers can reap the benefits of targeting these groups.

  • 66 million college students have $523 billion in spending power. Ninety-one percent of students said a gated offer would make them more likely to shop with a brand. Other gated offer programs that have been successful in reaching students include Comcast, Headspace and Urban Outfitters.
  • 4.8 million teachers have $1.5 billion in spending power. Eighty-eight percent of teachers actively search for exclusive teacher discounts for both classroom supplies and personal items. Target, J. Crew and Anthropologie are effectively tapping into this opportunity.
  • 37 million members of the military have $1 trillion in buying power. Ninety-five percent of members of the military say they are more likely to shop at a company that offers a military discount. T-Mobile, TOMS and Zoosk continue to innovate, setting the standard for success with this audience.
  • 109 million seniors have $3.2 trillion in purchasing power. Eighty-seven percent of seniors said gated offers make them more likely to purchase. This segment spends money in all categories and is more digitally savvy than most people think.

SheerID’s Digital Verification Platform Drives the Success of Gated Offer Programs

A critical part of any successful gated offer program is digital verification. Along with a growing list of leading brands, Alex and Ani use SheerID’s Digital Verification Platform to verify every buyer’s eligibility to receive the offer. Student verification and military verification with SheerID:

  • Requires minimal buyer data and verifies instantly.
  • Occurs as a seamless part of an in-brand experience.
  • Uses authoritative data sources backed up by document review.
  • Is 100% secure.

SheerID prevents discount abuse, which can be as high as 35%. With SheerID’s Digital Verification, brands see increased conversion rates as high as 3x, and ROAS as high as 18:1.

95% of military members are more likely to shop at a company that offers a military discount.

Acquire and Retain Loyal Customers

Interested in learning more about using gated offers to reach students, teachers, the military and more? Download The Definitive Guide to Gated Offers .