The fashion industry thrives on social media

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For designers and brands jumping onto the social media bandwagon, the benefits are many. Besides being a free publicity tool, social media is also connecting prospective shoppers to marketers.

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The fashion industry thrives on social media

  1. 1. The Fashion Industry Thrives on Social MediaWhat Makes Social Media the Hottest Trend in the Fashion Industry?Despite having arrived only recently onto social media scene, the fashion industry is definitely making its presencefelt. Big brands like Burberry, Urban Outfitters, Louis Vuitton etc, are shedding their „exclusive‟ tags and arebecoming more accessible to the general public via social networking. Billboards are being replaced with blogs andmarketing activities are centered on social advertising. Moreover, brands and retailers are not only using social mediato communicate with their customers, but are also listening to them. According to stats from a GSI Commerce survey, 45% of consumers prefer shopping for clothes online. Prior to making a purchase, 64% consult a retailer‟s website, the survey states. Websites are being used as virtual shop windows, with customers „checking-out‟ a brand online before visiting the actual store. The Cotton Incorporated 2010 Lifestyle Monitor survey shows that 73% women and 60% men browsed the internet for apparel in 2009, while 70% women and 59% men did the same in 2010.The initial reaction by luxury brands, to the general public‟s interest in apparel shopping via websites and socialmedia channels, was apprehension. However, brands soon understood that social media is where the revenue was,with some of their biggest customers thronging popular networking sites. Time and geographical constraints, whichhad so far prevented fashion-consciouscustomers from adding popular brands totheir wardrobes, were obliterated withthe emergence of social media as an e-commerce platform. Not wanting to beleft behind, fashion brands extendedtheir digital presence beyond companywebsites to networking channels likeTwitter, Facebook and blogs. A recentstudy by Hitwise (the data for 12 weeksending 18th June 2011) shows thatfashion brands are making the most ofFacebook. According to the study, each„top‟ retailer on the site can expect anaverage of 62,000 visits a month, even ifthey have no fans. Fashionably Late? Here’s What You Should Do While the likes of Oscar De La Renta, JCPenny and Chanel have quite successfully created a presence across several networking sites, some brands prefer arriving „fashionably late‟ to the social media scene. The biggest challenge for these brands lies in the creation of a well-thought-out social media marketing strategy. Simply© Position2, Inc. 1
  2. 2. jumping onto every networking site out there may not always guarantee the expected results. As a fashion retailer looking to nail it in social media, here’s what you need to do: o Anticipate Fashion Behaviors: Promoting stilettos when the trend points towards pumps and wedges may not exactly send the sales charts soaring. In order to avoid this fashion gaffe, it is important that brands understand what‟s „in‟ that season by listening to their customers and monitoring conversations online. Social media monitoring tools like Brand Monitor help identify relevant, industry-related conversations by sifting through the „noise‟ and identifying the actionable posts. For the late-entrants into the world of online marketing, this not only saves time by giving an idea of the latest fashion trends, but also helps forecast the possible future trends. When it comes to the fashion industry, knowing the trends is a crucial first step. o Create a Fashion Blog: Creating a fashion blog in the best way to gain exposure for your brand. Before creating a Facebook page or a Twitter profile, it is important for fashion industry professionals to start blogging. A fashion blog a) reflects the objectives of your brand and b) gives prospective customers an idea of the kind of apparel, accessories, shoes etc you will be marketing online. That said, enlisting the services of famous fashion bloggers is also a good way of gaining visibility for your designer label. The Karen Millar blog, for instance, is a shining example of what a fashion blog should look like and what it should feature. What makes this blog a winner is a) the „About Us‟ section that includes everything you need to know about the brand b) the „recent posts‟ section on the right side of the page, which links to the older blogs c) the Twitter timeline and d) featuring of the product details and the other necessary information. o Finding the Right Channel: Choosing the right social media platform is vital for positioning your brand in the online space. Selection of the right channel largely depends of where the fashion-conscious target market is hanging out. Once again, it is social media monitoring to the rescue. Instead of unthinkingly choosing a particular platform simply because your competitor is on it, it would be wise to find out where your audience is and create a marketing strategy accordingly. Apparel brands like Benetton and Van Heusen are using Facebook and Twitter as design centers, with the end-user playing co- creators. Leveraging the Power of Social Advertising The last six months have witnessed an upsurge in social advertising and promotional activities by fashion brands. In addition to reaching customers and engaging with them, fashion gurus have been leveraging the power of social media to promote new designs, and stand out in an otherwise crowded digital space. Whether it is DKNY‟s PR Girl campaign on Twitter and Tumblr or Dolce & Gabbana‟s hugely successful Facebook page, when it comes to social advertising, there is no looking back. We studied a few famous campaigns to understand how these brands nailed social advertising. This is what our findings revealed:© Position2, Inc. 2
  3. 3. o Generating Buzz the Burberry Way: Burberry‟s „Tweetwalk‟, which was staged just minutes before the actual event went live, treated the brand‟s followers to an exclusive glimpse of the designs, generating exponential online buzz. What worked for Burberry was the fact that the brand brought its runway collection to its largest online audience via social media. Their interest piqued, curious fans were eager to see the collection sported by models when they hit the runway. Also, instead of posting updates after the show, as the norm goes, the fashion brand gave its followers the feeling of being involved and made them feel special. Not surprisingly, Burberry‟s ingenious social media strategy saw a massive spike in brand-related conversations a few minutes after the show started; so much so, that it occupied the number two position on global trending charts, breaking its own personal-mentions minute record. o People Love Backstage: According to Simone Oliver, a senior fashion producer at The New York Times, people are particularly hungry for backstage coverage. Most of the professionals in today‟s fashion world couldn‟t agree more. While live streaming is one way of promoting a brand online, letting people behind the curtain is a marketing strategy that has worked for many fashion brands. As Oliver says, “Even if it‟s just a 20-second video of some new technique for putting on eye makeup, people will retweet it. [Readers] want what they can‟t get.” o The Impact of User-Generated Content: Fashion brands these days are driving sales online with user-generated content. Besides being a low-cost strategy of promoting a label in the digital space, this is also an effective method of driving traffic and increasing revenue. Having understood the impact of user-generated content, more and more fashion companies are encouraging contributions from fans and allowing exchange of opinions across various networking sites. After all, it is no secret that customers are inclined to trust the voice and recommendations from their peers. The CEO of Polyvore, Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, revealed that 69% of the company‟s users recommend products to friends at least once a week. “We believe the best source of influence for a brand is to harness the power of our passionate user community,” he added. o The Need to Tweet: In addition to blogging and posting on Facebook, it is vital for brands in the fashion industry to have an active Twitter account. Twitter hashtags add the „fairy dust‟ to fashion brands‟ promotional strategy, while the viral marketing capability of retweets is something an advertising budget cannot buy. For© Position2, Inc. 3
  4. 4. instance, the British Fashion Council (BFC) is using the #LFW hashtag to promote London Fashion Week. So far, the @LondonFashionWk Twitter handle has +76,000 followers and is showing no signs of slowing down. Making Fashion Accessible Unlike before, when the fashion industry closed its doors to outsiders, today‟s brands are willing to look beyond the „elite‟ customer. Previously „exclusive‟ brands are reaching out to the now financially empowered and fashion-savvy customer via social media. With more and more customers engaged in virtual shopping, for fashion brands the choice is between converting social audiences to shoppers over time or risk getting left behind. Let us look at how fashion brands can make themselves more accessible to the general public: o The Coupons and Offers Formula Always Works: Irrespective of the industry type, the coupons and offers formula always works. For fashion brands looking to market their designs to the regular customer, the „deal-of-the-day‟ or ‟special offer‟ approach is a good way to a) introduce new designs to first-time customers and b) lure them into visiting the actual brick and mortar store to redeem their coupons and check-out other products. The GSI commerce survey shows that information about the latest deals, offers and promotions is the second most important attribute consumers enjoy when interacting with fashion retailers on Facebook and Twitter. In addition to information about their new arrivals, fashion tips etc, the JCPenny Facebook page runs promotional offers and special deals at regular intervals. o Designer Wear? It Must Surely be Expensive: Our research shows that the biggest challenge fashion marketers face while expanding their customer base is the „it must be expensive‟ mind block. Although the top designers and some of the big brands continue to promote their exclusive collection online, the same brands also have a line of affordable labels. In order to reach out to the general crowd, it is important to change this perception by creating marketing messages that highlight the affordability aspect. The best way of doing this is by advertising across the numerous social media channels out there and ensuring that the pricing information is present. For most customers, the absence of a price-tag can be a deterrent. Social advertising guarantees a broader reach, besides an increase in queries from interested customers who would otherwise hesitate to communicate via traditional channels. o Simplifying the Decision-Making Process: Virtual stores cannot replicate everything about in-store fashion experience; this could be one of the reasons why many customers don‟t come back to a retailer‟s webpage after the first few visits. Online fashion marketers need to understand this and should simplify the decision-making© Position2, Inc. 4
  5. 5. process. Studies show that effective filters on fashions sites allow users to narrow their product selection. 55% of the respondents said that the ability to filter by size and color makes them more likely to buy, while 50% said that zoomable and rotatable images on product pages greatly influence the decision making process. o Location-Based Marketing: Location-based services like Foursquare and Gowalla can help retailers increase in-store visits, traffic, as well as have a positive impact on offline and online sales. Fashion giants like Jimmy Choo and Marc Jacobs are using location-based social marketing to deliver their brands‟ messages to customers. During the 2010 New York Fashion Week, the Mark Jacobs brand not only streamed live shows, but also teamed-up with Foursquare to create some buzz around the show. Four attendees who „checked-in‟ were received tickets to the fashion show. Besides treating fans to the show, this strategy also increased word-of-mouth marketing and made the brand more accessible to consumers.ConclusionConsumers are increasingly checking out a retailer‟s website or social media page before deciding to make a purchase,which means fashion brands need to step up their online marketing efforts even more. When browsing through afashion brand‟s webpage, prospective buyers look for basic information like price, availability of sizes etc. Customerswho usually attach the „expensive „and „beyond-my-reach‟ tags to big brands, feel much more comfortable checking-out the website before making a trip to the actual store. Fashion brands looking to make their labels more accessibleto these customers should provide this basic information besides making that extra effort to shed their „exclusive tag‟.Not wanting to be left behind, the likes of Victoria‟s Secret, Chanel, Marc Jacobs etc have incorporated social mediainto their traditional marketing strategies and now have a solid presence on all the major social media platforms.For designers and brands jumping onto the social media bandwagon, the benefits are many. Besides being a freepublicity tool, social media is also connecting prospective shoppers to marketers. The new entrants, as well as thehigh-end labels, are using social media to study industry trends and anticipate fashion behaviors. Also, previouslysocial media wary brands are harnessing the power of user-generated content to reverse slowing online sales and driverevenue. With the big players in this industry using social media to generate buzz and „hype‟ fashion events muchbefore they are actually launched, the future for this industry certainly looks promising. As far as social advertising isconcerned, it would be safe to assume that the fashion industry is going through a metamorphosis. While some brandscontinue to test the waters, the others have incorporated social media as an integral part of their marketingstrategies. The enthusiasm with which both customers and designers have embraced social media means the days ofexclusivity and elitism are fast fading. Social media, undoubtedly, is the hottest trend in fashion right now; and wehave every reason to believe that social advertising will revolutionize the way apparel, accessories and beautyproducts are marketed and sold.© Position2, Inc. 5
  6. 6. About Position2Position2 is a Search and Social Media Marketing firm that delivers continuous growth for our clients using ourproprietary “Surround and Intent” Marketing Methodology, delivered by our products. Our proprietary methodology isa result of years of experience in working with diverse clients to deliver customer acquisition goals through searchengine optimization (SEO), social media marketing (SMM), and Pay Per Click (PPC) and online media advertising.Position2 was founded in 2006 with funding from Accel Venture Partners, and has offices in Palo Alto, Bangalore andMumbai. Position2 is a certified agency with Google, Yahoo, Bing and is also part of the Google Adwords advisorycouncil.Position2s flagship product is Position2 Brand MonitorTM, a platform that allows users to listen, discover and engagewith social media conversations in real time. With a team of over 100 professionals, Position 2 also provides expertisein online marketing solutions: SEO, PPC, Media and Advertising.Position2 works with leading global brands:This article is also available on the Position2 Blog: http://blog.position2.com.For more information, visit http://brandmonitor.position2.com or email info@position2.com.© Position2, Inc. 6

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