How Stories Drive Growth: HSN

By Jennifer Aaker, Debra Schifrin
2014 | Case No. M348B | Length 15 pgs.
Stories play an important role in business. They are a powerful tool for persuasion and useful in the context of understanding customers, building brands and leading teams. Set in 2014, the case explores how stories can drive the growth of a company, focusing on HSN Inc., the $3 billion interactive, multi-channel retailer. When Mindy Grossman became CEO of HSN in 2006, she had three major challenges: create a new story for a 30-year old company that had stagnated, cultivate a growth story to change the course of the brand, and tell new stories about the products it sold across various platforms (television, online, social networking media and mobile). The case discusses how Grossman met those challenges and maintained a focus on culture, brand and experience while also increasing agility. The case also examines HSN’s storytelling approach: how the company finds the right stories for itself and its brands, develops those stories, anchors the stories to a great storyteller, creates 360-degree storytelling, and makes use of its measurement tools to evaluate the impact of its stories. In addition, the case presents the themes of 1) how a company can organize the future by understanding its past, 2) how it leverages its combined assets, data and technology in order to 3) tell the future story of the company.

Learning Objective

The learning objectives are for students to: • Gain insight into what makes a good (or bad) story in business. • Better understand how to use stories to gain strategic advantage and further business objectives. • Acquire practical tools to hone and focus stories.
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