Tommy Hilfiger Marketing Strategy: How the Fashion Retailer Evolved Into a Lifestyle Brand

tommy hilfiger marketing strategy

Founded in 1985, the Tommy Hilfiger name has been associated with the preppy lifestyle for almost four decades all over the globe, and, of course, this wasn’t by chance. What started as a line of men’s clothing has now grown into one of the most recognizable brands having 2000 stores in 100 countries. With 4.7 billion U.S. dollars in revenue in 2021 worldwide, the Tommy Hilfiger marketing strategy revolves around a brand-focused, digitally-led approach that has enabled this retail giant to stay competitive even in the most challenging times. This case study examines the disciplined marketing execution of the fashion retailer and provides plenty of inspiration for marketers and eCommerce professionals alike.  

A glimpse of the great history of Tommy Hilfiger

When Tommy Hilfiger came up with the idea for his brand, his vision was to create the “new American classics”, redesigning and modernizing the preppy, old-school style of his childhood. Since then, he has been recognized by some of the most esteemed organizations, both for his professional life and for his charity work.

The fashion retailer has received numerous awards for his work over the years, including: 

  • the Menswear Designer of the Year by the Council of Fashion Designers of America in 1995
  • the Designer of the Year Award by the Parsons School of Design in 1998
  • the International Designer of the Year by GQ Magazine Germany in 2002, 
  • the Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award by the Council of Fashion Designers of America in 2012. 
  • And the Legends Award from the Pratt Institute

Apart from that, he has received a lot of distinctions for his humanitarian work, such as: 

  • the Future of America Award, for philanthropic efforts for American youth by the Drug Abuse Resistance Education in 2002
  • the Peter J. Gomes Humanitarian of the Year by the Harvard Foundation in 2006
  • the UNESCO Support Award for philanthropic efforts by UNESCO in 2009
  • And he was honored by the Race to Erase MS for his commitment to finding a cure for MS in 2015.

Early days

Hilfiger was born in 1951 in upstate New York, in a town called Elmira, and in 1971 he opened his first store, People’s Place, reselling bell bottoms, blouses, and leather jackets bought from stores in New York City. The retail store went bankrupt in 1977, and two years later, after moving to New York City, he started another company named Tommy Hill.

Following his studies in commerce and the business part of fashion, in 1981 founded the 20th Century Survival company and a year later founded the company Click Point. Eventually, his big break came in 1984 as he was approached by businessman Mohan Murjani when he was truly able to reach his goals as a designer and the head of a sportswear line for men.

With Murjani’s support, he finally launched the Tommy Hilfiger Corporation in 1985, announcing his presence to the fashion world with an enormous and bold marketing billboard designed by George Lois. Located in Times Square, the billboard claimed Tommy Hilfiger was one of the four greatest American designers for men, comparing himself with Ralph Lauren, Perry Ellis, and Calvin Klein.

Expansion and development 

Source: The Times

In the ‘90s, the fashion retailer was already an American household name that would be widely connected to the pop music industry, sponsoring events and tours. Namely, he was an official tour sponsor for Pete Townshend, Sheryl Crow, Britney Spears, and Lenny Kravitz. Additionally, in the mid-late ‘90s, the Hilfiger brand played a huge part in influencing the modernized version of the classic “preppy” style and hip-hop fashion.

He continued to collaborate with famous artists that would promote his lines until the early 2000s, such as Michael Jackson, Destiny’s Child, Snoop Dog, Beyoncé, and J. Lo. Also, the famous R&B icon, Aaliyah, became a brand ambassador for Tommy Hilfiger Inc., and rappers Puffy and Coolio walked on his runaway fashion shows.

Lastly, in 2010 Phillips-Van Heusen (PVH Corp.) acquired the Tommy Hilfiger Corporation, and Fred Gerhing was made CEO of the company for approximately 11 years. Currently, the title of CEO belongs to Daniel Grieder, whereas Gerhing holds the executive chairman position for the fashion retailer.

The challenges Tommy Hilfiger had to overcome throughout the years

When Daniel Grieder and Fred Gerhing took over the Tommy Hilfiger Corporation, they also inherited the troubles that it brought along. After the brand’s big break during the ’90s and the association with the music industry, the company had to overcome the changes in the new trends; its puffer jackets and oversized aesthetic were no longer relevant in the decade that followed. Both Tommy Hilfiger and the two CEOs recognized the wrong route that the corporation had taken because they invested in something that is constantly evolving.

Besides the market over-saturation, the brand was full of promotions, a tactic used when the boat was already sinking. The American market no longer had any room for the obsolete Tommy designs, so the only thing left to do was to invest in the European market. As the company’s revenue decreased in the US, it grew steadily in Europe.

Investing overseas and monetizing that momentum was the next move for the Tommy Hilfiger marketing strategy; the team repurposed the business model to appeal more to the European retail market and struck agreements with 4,500 department stores in 15 counties. Domestically, the most-profitable Hilfiger lines are distributed exclusively at Macy’s.

Analyzing Tommy Hilfiger’s Marketing Strategy

The Tommy Hilfiger marketing strategy has made the retailer one of the top high-end fashion brands worldwide. Besides its signature preppy, American classic style, the company’s sustainable practices and its affiliation with celebrity ambassadors have placed it at the forefront of the luxury fashion world. Here are some key points that led to its growth and success. 

Sustainability and inclusiveness

The core pillar of Tommy Hilfiger’s vision is to drive excellence through sustainable practices and decrease the environmental impact of its production. To increase the awareness behind this initiative, the fashion retailer started a promising partnership with the famous singer Shawn Mendes in March 2023. The Tommy X Shawn Classics Reborn Collection places the pre-90s prep fits in the spotlight, redesigning the classic Tommy take in a modern way from recycled and innovative textiles. The second pillar of the rebranded company is promoting human rights and embracing positive change through diversity and inclusion.

Tommy Hilfiger Banner

Promotion strategies and brand ambassadors 

Source: Twitter

Moving on with the Tommy Hilfiger brand analysis, it is essential to note the promotion and advertising strategies that made this label successful and recognizable. They use multiple online and offline channels to enhance awareness and boost their presence. Offline, Tommy utilizes newspaper ads, billboards, and magazine ads, whereas, in its online presence, it has opted for the omnichannel customer engagement approach, with emails, push notifications, and many more.

One of the most effective ways for the Tommy Hilfiger brand marketing strategy is collaborating with many celebrities as spokespeople and ambassadors over the years. Some of the most prominent brand ambassadors announced are Zendaya, Gigi Hadid, Rafael Nadal, Lewis Hamilton, Winnie Harlow, Hailey Baldwin, and William Chan Wai-ting, to name a few.

Digital experiences

Creating a seamless shopping experience between the online and the brick-and-mortar stores is the first step towards an omnichannel approach, and of course, the Tommy Hilfiger marketing strategy would stay up-to-date with the current eCommerce best practices. Apart from initializing the Digital Showroom, an interactive digital system where customers can purchase through touchscreens, they also offer the “Click & Collect” option on their website. Customers love ordering online and picking up in-store, so this option is a must-have for every retail brand.

Target markets

The buyer persona of a lifestyle brand, like the one we examine in this case study, is a specified target group that requires luxury, social confidence, and value out of their purchases. Hence, the demographic variables included in the Tommy Hilfiger marketing strategy consist of male and female consumers between the ages of 25-40 that belong to the upper-middle class.

Product diversification 

Source: Mashable

The brand’s renowned product lines have gained global recognition and popularity over the years, with Tommy Hilfiger as the main product line of the corporation. Additional lines include the Hilfiger Denim targeting a younger, more casual demographic, the Hilfiger Collection, a female line that mixes the classic American style with the contemporary and the Tommy Hilfiger Tailored, a male line that combines both formal and casual products. The brand extends its offerings not only to apparel and fashion but also to kid’s sportswear, accessories, footwear, perfumeries, eyewear, watches, and home decor.

Pricing and distribution strategies

Even as a lifestyle brand, Tommy Hilfiger products still remain affordable and accessible to all. The company’s distribution strategy extends to different markets worldwide, both in Europe and Asia, and its headquarters are in Amsterdam. Currently, the corporation has flagship stores in 7 countries and 44 anchor stores located in key major cities globally.

Tommy Hilfiger’s growth strategy and omnichannel approach

Successful retailers have a keen sense of understanding the needs of their customers and anticipating their shopping behavior. To achieve that, they have to make data-driven decisions and adhere to the latest eCommerce trends, and the Tommy Hilfiger marketing strategy is based on these values and tactics. Besides the extended use of technological implementations in its digital approach, the brand enhances brand loyalty and returning customers with powerful customer engagement tools. 

How Tommy Hilfiger utilizes ContactPigeon’s omnichannel customer engagement platform to grow its online presence in Greece

Source: ContactPigeon

The Greek branch of the Tommy Hilfiger Corporation has been collaborating with ContactPigeon for many years, and the results of this partnership speak for themselves. The fashion retailer boosted its sales, increased its website subscription, used a variety of different features for different cases to maximize ROI, and, finally, it was able to monitor key metrics with advanced analytics and dashboards.

The Challenge

  • Needed to find an effective way to promote the brand while building a core community of engaged customers
  • Needed a solution that would not only offer immediate support but would also be able to handle the demands of a world-leading brand

The Solution

  • Grow subscriptions and capture online leads with personalized and dynamic pop-ups
  • Drive brand visibility with automated and bulk email campaigns
  • Use powerful segmentation and personalize its customers’ experiences

Getting an in-depth understanding of customer behavior

The brand’s Greek branch wanted to take the Tommy Hilfiger marketing strategy to the next level and gain valuable, actionable insights about the behavioral patterns of customers, pain points, and favorite products. All of the above were achieved with ContactPigeon’s detailed analytics tools and dashboards that monitor and track important data. In turn, Tommy’s team uses the data to make informed decisions based on hard evidence to increase conversion and retention rates.

Retargeting potential customers and increasing Tommy Hilfiger’s leads in Greece

As mentioned above, increasing the brand’s audience and creating personalized interactions was a high priority for the Tommy Hilfiger marketing strategy. To overcome this, the two teams came up with an effective strategy that produced very impressive results. Firstly, they set up dynamic pop-ups with a 10% discount on the first order on the company’s Greek website to engage new visitors and target unknown customers, achieving a +35% YOY increase in email subscribers.

The second part of this strategy was to use the ContactPigeon segmentation tool to break down the subscribers into groups based on demographics. This tool allowed Tommy’s team to target different target groups effectively with relevant content that would appeal to their tastes and interests.

Increasing email and push subscribers

Besides enriching the online subscriber base and creating a bigger pool of loyal followers for personalized promotional content, Tommy Hilfiger Greece expanded its audience by increasing its registered devices. Push notifications are a very effective channel that allows retailers to reach even more people with marketing campaigns or cart abandonment reminders. To highlight the efficiency of push notifications, using this channel, Tommy Hilfiger Greece saw a +140% YOY increase in purchases generated by push notifications and a +155% YOY increase in push notifications generated revenue.  

Tip: Learn more about how a global brand like Tommy Hilfiger stayed ahead in the Greek market with ContactPigeon’s omnichannel customer engagement platform in the dedicated customer success story

Analyzing Tommy Hilfiger’s eCommerce website

Tommy Hilfiger is undoubtedly one of the top and most highly evaluated retail brands. We’ve analyzed four-page templates of their site to identify eCommerce best practices and mistakes you should avoid.

A. Analyzing Tommy Hilfiger’s Homepage

What we liked:

  • Clean, classy, and comprehensive design
  • Easy to navigate and browse through the drop-down menu
  • Sticky header functionality
  • Subtle but prominent promotional offers under the main categories

What we didn’t: 

  • Not very eye-catchy 

B. Analyzing Tommy Hilfiger’s Category Page

What we liked:

  • Easy to distinguish the sustainable products, highlighting the brand’s positioning
  • Easy-to-use and very organized filtering options
  • Sticky cart and sticky filtering functionalities
  • Wishlist function

What we didn’t: 

  • No quick-add-to-cart functionality

C. Analyzing Tommy Hilfiger’s Product Page 

What we liked:

  • High-definition product pictures 
  • Embedded product recommendations and similar items
  • Size guide
  • Easy paying options with Klarna
  • Detailed product descriptions
  • Easy to locate the shipment and return policies

What we didn’t: 

  • The zoom-in functionality doesn’t work properly
  • When you click on the images, the following page breaks down

D. Analyzing Tommy Hilfiger’s Checkout Process

What we liked:

  • Guest checkout
  • Multiple delivery options, including click & collect
  • Multiple paying options

What we didn’t: 

  • Sometimes the pages during the checkout process are loading slower than the rest of the website

Interesting technologies that Tommy Hilfiger is now deploying

Using the buildwith tool, we scanned Tommy Hilfiger’s website, and we highlighted the most impressive technologies spotted:


ContactPigeon’s omnichannel customer engagement platform plays an integral part in the Tommy Hilfiger marketing strategy, especially for the Greek branch. The company uses the platform to gather valuable information and data and implement marketing automation tactics for personalized engagements that increase conversion and retention rates.

Tommy Hilfiger’s stats you should not miss

  • In 2021, the brand reached $9.3 billion in global sales. (PVH)
  • Tommy Hilfiger has 16,000 associates worldwide, and currently, it has more than 2,000 retail stores located in 100 countries. (PVH)
  • The Tommy Hilfiger website has a total of 5,309,983 monthly visits. (Pipe Candy)
  • In 2020, 51% of the total Tommy Hilfiger sales were from European countries. (Statista)

Most recent news about Tommy Hilfiger

The key takeaways from the Tommy Hilfiger marketing strategy

Summing up, the achievements that consist of Tommy Hilfiger’s success are not a result of luck, but rather of a consistent and exceptionally executed strategy that is successfully replicated online. The Tommy Hilfiger marketing strategy focuses on data-driven and on-point strategic business decisions, that take the brand one step further and increase its impact in the fashion world on a global scale. Hence, the perfect way to make a difference is to conduct thorough market research before investing in a powerful customer engagement platform.

Lastly, one of the key strategies that have skyrocketed Tommy Hilfiger’s online presence in Greece is its long-lasting collaboration with ContactPigeon, an award-winning solution with advanced marketing automation capabilities, designed for retail and eCommerce. If you wish to learn more, our Sales experts are always ready to introduce you to the perks of an omnichannel engagement strategy that produces optimal results based on actionable insights, so make sure to book a 30-min free session soon!

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