New Orleans T-Shirts & More: Two Local Businesses Lure Culture Bearers with Loyalty Marketing

December 3rd, 2012 by Search Influence Alumni

I am a New Orleans t-shirt and jeans kind of person, and our eclectic “come as you are” culture certainly lends itself to dressing comfortably while slurping oysters, swigging Abita beer, or bobbing your head to the stylings of Kermit Ruffins or the Hot 8 Brass Band.

Two (of many) local retailers, Dirty Coast and Storyville, create New Orleans t-shirt designs that pay homage to the traditions of Southeastern Louisiana with colorful artwork and regional turns of phrase that would only be understood by someone who has heard or experienced them. While the unique designs can spark conversations and essentially sell themselves on an aesthetic level, retailers of these witty t-shirts draw locals and tourists alike in with promises of discounts and extra goodies through information shared on social media.

I do not restrict myself to shopping at just one of these New Orleans t-shirt stores because both Dirty Coast and Storyville have fabulous shirt designs. Also, each store uses an approach to loyalty marketing that allows the business to communicate with consumers while driving brand affinity and getting to know what interests are important to customers. These are great strategies that any business with a presence on social media can use to find out what motivates their customers to care and to buy. Hey, I’m sold!

Dirty Coast posts information on Twitter about contests they are hosting to win gift cards and gives a 10% discount for your check-in on FourSquare. They understand that the people that don their t-shirts are charitable folk, so Dirty Coast donates proceeds from the sale of certain shirt designs to benefit organizations like the LASPCA, the Gulf Restoration Network, and the New Orleans Musicians’ Clinic. They even make good on the local concept of lagniappe (a French word meaning small gift or little something extra) by giving away great stickers, including the now iconic car bumper staple that reads “Be a New Orleanian, Wherever You Are.” When a company is able to associate consumers’ buying power with the preservation of valuable culture and the promotion of “a greater good,” they earn brand loyalty that is exponentially multiplied when t-shirt wearers post pics on their cool duds on Instagram. They’ve even gotten some attention from the entertainment industry: actor Steve Zahn reps a new one of their shirts in almost every episode of HBO’s most recent season of Treme.

Storyville rewards their staunch fans with opportunities to try their own hand at the apparel design game. Contests are hosted where the winning shirt designs are created and sold, along with a cash prize for the winner. This is just one way the store can establish a fan base and set itself apart from the competition — online shirt retailer Threadless has made a whole business model out of it. Storyville’s physical locations in Baton Rouge and Austin, TX receive glowing reviews from Yelpers. They use social media to inform followers of deals going on in-store, and even alert their Twitter followers to newsworthy information that their adoring public will care about. Most recently, the topic of conversation was the beloved Saints cheer “Who dat” and information about how many are fighting to keep the battle cry of the New Orleans Saints in the public domain.

The bottom line is that it’s worth it to make time to study businesses that capture your attention online and through social media. The incentives these New Orleans t-shirt stores offer (discounts, coupon codes, contests) draw the consumer in and don’t even involve printing up a flyer or physically attracting the masses to a storefront to get big results. New Orleanians are a proud bunch, and we’re happy to show off our culture with these clever accoutrements — props to these retailers for getting it so very right with both their designs and their marketing approaches.