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Are you connected to the internet? If so, you’ve just been given a front row seat to Fashion Weeks around the world. With Digital and Social Media Marketing in full force this season, our relationship with the fashion industry is changing. The barriers are down and you no longer have to be a celebrity, designer, photographer, journalist or fashionista to have live access to next season’s collections.
How Digital and Social Media Marketing are Changing the Face of Fashion Week
As the Spring/Summer 2014 fashion season began we saw Pinterest create a new form of editorial content to showcase the highlights of from New York, London, Milan and Paris. Shortly after its launch an email was sent to followers announcing the latest pins, as well as related boards on fashion from fellow pinners, proving that Pinterest is not just a pin board. It is social too.
In New York, the Kenneth Cole hired a team of pro-viners to capture a truly unique, behind the scenes perspective in 6 second bite size clips, which were live-streamed them from their websites.
Here in London, while all catwalk shows were live-streamed on YouTube through BritishFashionTV, in a new twist to tradition, Clements Ribeiro chose to launch their new collection exclusively online launch using video to capture the spirit of their Rio inspired retro tropical glamour.
Fashion forward designer, Holly Fulton kept to tradition with a gorgeous collection presented at her catwalk show at Somerset House but also used EBay as a platform to highlight her A/W13 capsule collection to celebrate London Fashion Week. This was a very savvy move to broaden her appeal and promote her brand.
Designers aside, the role of bloggers at Fashion Week internationally, cannot be underestimated. Some 2000 fashion bloggers alone, registered to attend London Fashion Week this season, prompting the British Fashion Council to implement a blogger strategy, which it hopes to apply within the next year. Until then the best blog posts are being captured in their Blog Portal featuring street style and news from the world’s fashion media.
As the lines between digital and physical becoming evermore blurred, how long can the traditional format of Fashion Week be retained? Will catwalk shows become a thing of the past? How will the role of fashion bloggers develop?
However things transpire, the fashion space is definitely one to watch.
How Digital Media is Changing Online Fashion Brands
Fifteen years ago M&S were very focussed on store layout, store launches, catalogue production, and the Christmas shopping season. All of their activities followed a central idea – relevance to the customer’s demands.
Fashion is constantly in flux. But underneath, what’s important in fashion retail stays true: Cater to the needs of the customer by using insights to be relevant and fashionable, and to quickly adapt to what sells. Advances in technology, while daunting, actually help meet these goals when used correctly.
Gaining insights from reviews
At M&S, to get feedback on the latest ranges of clothing they would visit flagship stores, speak to the shop floor, and run focus groups to determine what customers wanted. But now, retailers can instantly aggregate content from customers online to adapt in real-time, and make smarter decisions faster. For instance, are reviews saying that the pockets on a pair of trousers are too small, the fit of the shirt too long on most body shapes?
The key is to use technology to get the feedback that’s useful in driving change – and not be paralysed by it. Feedback is a rich resource to the fashion buyer who no longer has the luxury of working season by season, but has to meet the demands of three to four week fashion runs. They are on a constant cycle to meet trends – trends which reviews reveal.
Meanwhile, customers get to poll UGC to make their own purchases and find the right products for them. When shopping for a shirt recently I was able to feed from opinions to help inform my decision. And not just from any other customer, but from others that show they have similar tastes to me and are in the same age group – making my purchasing more informed and intelligent.
Replicating in-store experiences online with virtual fitting
To meet the needs of Omni channel shoppers, fashion brands have to bring the best parts of the in-store environment to online shopping. Thomas Pink was one of the first retailers in the UK to start experimenting with virtual fitting rooms, giving shoppers a photographic realisation of fit. They’ve gained a conversion rate of 21% from shoppers using the facility.
ASOS has a fit visualizer tool that allows customers to compare specific measurements of an item they are looking to buy with a similar item they already own by displaying and overlaying silhouettes of both garments. The tool has proven to reduce fit-related returns by up to 50% on other ecommerce sites.
Bringing digital initiatives in-store
Incorporating digital techniques in-store, M&S is trialling new multimedia zones in its stores that combine digital touchscreens, video walls, and displays of outfits to provide shoppers with inspiration. The Style Online touchscreens help shoppers keep up-to-date with the latest fashion trends and provide a digital stylist tool that enables shoppers to combine different garments and accessories to create their own personalized looks.
Burberry, known in the fashion world as true digital innovator, launched its flagship “store of the future” on London’s Regent Street earlier last year, which features technology such as RFID tags in its clothing and accessories so a customer trying on a garment can view more information about where the garment was made or how it was designed when they try it on and look in the mirror.
Burberry is also looking into sensor technology that would help customer service assistants identify who a customer is as they walk in to a store. The technology would pick up on details available on those consumers’ mobiles, through an app or from publicly available social networking data.
Speeding up the product cycle
Getting people talking about new product launches is important in every industry, and especially so in fashion, where public perception is everything. Sparking conversations around new looks is huge, and many retailers are using digital elements to spark that chatter immediately upon reveal (or even before) – a departure from the standard waiting period between the elite catwalk and public availability.
All eyes will be on Burberry as we lead up to London Fashion Week commencing in September. They’ve already digitised the catwalk by launching Tweet walk, which brought its runway collection to a Twitter audience before it hit any physical runway. Their Autumn/Winter 2013 collection allowed customers the ability to order what they see on the catwalk straight from their mobile devices with a novel twist – customization using the brand’s proprietary technology.
What about the delivery jet-setters of the fashion world? They’re the ones offering super-fast delivery for those in need of an almost-instant fashion-fix. Oasis is claiming a fashion miracle by offering 90 minutes to certain towns and cities in the UK.
Advances in technology can seem daunting, but in fashion (and truly, all industries) they’re an opportunity to better serve customers’ needs. In the end, the success of digital initiatives depends on how well they do just that.
Fashion, SEO and Digital Marketing
Digital marketing as a mega-trend is quickly revealing Early Adopters and Laggards. Where are you on that spectrum?
A brief history of business technology:
• In the late 1980s you had to have a fax machine (and fax number on your business card) in order to be seen as a credible business
• In the late 1990s, no legitimate company would be caught dead without a website (in fact, any company without a website was probably dying as a result)
• In the late 2000s (and more so every day), any business without a proactive plan to manage social media was falling behind its competition
• In the 2010s, if you still have a fax machine (and fax number on your business card), you may be in more trouble than you thought
Increasing your web presence and social media footprint has never been more urgent. Whether you’re just starting a business or trying to make an existing one more accessible and appealing to customers, now is the time to dump the fax machine, jump on SEO, and avoid extinction. Take a look at the Diffusion of Innovations bell curve.
With respect to a viable web presence, where would you plot your company on this adoption curve? The latest adopters in this familiar model have traditionally been labelled “Laggards,” but in the world of SEO and social media, latecomers are plain old Dinosaurs because of the extinction-level event that is created by their inattention.
American fashion designer Tory Burch founded her label in February 2004, the same month that Mark Zuckerberg launched Facebook from his Harvard dorm room.
In the fashion industry, Burch’s rise has been nearly as striking: the 45-year-old CEO has expanded her line of ready-to-wear clothing and accessories to more than 450 department and specialty stores worldwide, as well as dozens of Tory Burch boutiques in the U.S., Europe and Asia. She opened 20 new shops, including several in international cities (Osaka, Seoul, Hong Kong, Kobe and Taipei), in 2010 alone.
Much of her success can be linked to an aggressive digital strategy, says Miki Berardelli, who has served as chief marketing officer of Tory Burch since 2009. The company launched ecommerce immediately after opening its first shop in downtown Manhattan, and they generate more revenue than any physical store.
Burch is one of the few designers to maintain a direct, on-going dialogue with her friends and fans on Twitter which she does in an easy-going and authentic manner. The industry as one of the leading manifestations of on-going brand-developed content.
How else have the company’s marketing efforts changed?
They continue to focus on all things digital. They redesigned their website earlier this year, which was very much about pulling all of the content [they have developed] into the shopping experience … [and] supporting mobile commerce. They have also done a lot in the social media space.
Lately they’ve been focusing on the intersection of social, local and mobile, whether that’s for a new store opening in a specific market, or driving traffic into stores. Given the rapid growth of the company, they’re also focused on analysis of their marketing efforts to ensure that they are effective.