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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.
Digital on Tap: How to Market your Business
At present the digital space is evolving at a breath taking speed paralysing traditional marketing methods and dismantling previous marketing modes of measuring the customers buying cycle. Terms such as ‘it is all about mobile’ and ‘always on’ are ubiquitous in the marketing industry.
That being said, digital marketing is already progressing to the next stage in its evolution and although it may seem futuristic, the thought processes of some tech companies and digital entrepreneurs as to how digital will look tomorrow and beyond is astonishing. Dahlström and Edelman observe the process as shifting from being “always on to a concept of also always Relevant, responsive to the consumer’s desire for marketing that cuts through the noise with pinpoint delivery” (mckinsey.com, 2013).
The majority of marketers and businesses are coming to terms with matching their products, services and brands to what the customer is searching for an all devices. However, tomorrow’s consumer may be searching by means of body gestures, voice recognition and visual images coupled with the never ending array of new devices which allow for augmented reality (mckinsey.com, 2013).
Digital Marketing now and tomorrow
Warby Parker, a web retailer which specialises in eye ware, utilises the evolving digital techniques to allow visitors see what accessories actually look like when worn by means of a webcam. Glasses are delivered to a customer’s home free of charge and if incorrect can also be returned free. The user experience also includes a standard pupillary distance measurement by means of a credit card held against a person’s face as a measurement guide. A user can upload a picture of their own facial features helping to personalize user involvement and offer more authenticity (warbyparker, com). This technology proved to be commercially successful for the company and helped with building customer relationships.
Adobe is a major multinational computer company which specialises in software and digital platforms and recently launched a number of new digital capabilities. For example, the ‘Master market profile’ is a tool allowing marketers to measure audience participation in real time across multiple channels creating one unique visitor profile incorporating CRM and so forth. In addition, Cameron acknowledged that “these profiles can be used to create and share audience segments in order to deliver more personalised ads and content through email, digital, mobile and social campaigns” ( cmo.com, 2014).
The introduction of Google glass under the guise of wearable technology has been around for some time. The first impression for some may be that this concept may be only for individual use or for entertainment purposes. However, the following capabilities auger well for Goggle glass as a marketing tool as explored byRooke.
- Retail stores could show messages to glass users when they pass the their premises embedded with special in store offer and promotions, a powerful marketing opportunity for savvy retailers
- Can be utulised with Google Wallet to facilitate on line purchases
- Or codes could be use to redirect glass users to a website where products may be bought or reviewed
- Google Glass contains image recognition software which allows a picture to be taken including additional information relating to pricing products and purchase on line via Amazon (utalkmarketing.com, 2013).
The above mentioned are only some technologies which may become mainstream someday. The arrays of digital marketing channels available are varied from Google applications to Facebook and beyond. The pace of change is meteoric and there is little sign of a slow down on the horizon concerning all things digital. One central factor amidst all the digital development is the danger of concentrating too much on the technology and forgetting about the customer. At the end of the day the customer is always king and their needs and wants must lye at the heart of all marketing campaigns, digital or otherwise.
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.
One of the most surprising success stories of the digital era is the resurgence of sales of vinyl record albums. http://theweek.com/article/index/254901/the-baffling-revival-of-the-vinyl-lp. Supposedly made redundant over twenty years ago by the rise of CDs coupled with the dominance of music downloads on Digital marketing giants iTunes and Amazon, LPs have made a remarkable comeback. Now, along with music streaming, vinyl albums constitute a growth area in the music industry. http://mashable.com/2014/01/07/vinyl-comeback/
The big success story is Digital Streaming which increased by over 30%, achieving a record 118 billion total streams mainly due to the emergence of Spotify and Pandora. http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/digital-music-takes-a-dive-as-record-sales-slip-again-in-2013-20140108
As a lover of vinyl albums, I am delighted by the renaissance of the LP. However, it is unlikely that the vinyl album will ever achieve the dominance it enjoyed in the 70s and 80s. To put things in perspective, in 2013, LPs sold approximately 6.1m, a fraction in comparison with the $15b in revenue achieved by US vinyl sales in 1999 but still an unlikely triumph. Last year, CDs sold 165m while downloads peaked at 118m. (http://money.cnn.com/2010/02/02/news/companies/napster_music_industry/)
However, though it is refreshing – as well as a real boost for music lovers – that in this age of instant gratification and accessibility the music market has re-embraced a technological dinosaur such as the vinyl record album, one big question remains: why?
There are many theories, including the appeal of owning a beautifully packaged artifact. Another reason could be a perceived backlash against digital music in general. However, as AFP’s Alfons Luna says, ‘Vinyl offers a richer sound than downloadable digital songs which although hiss-free, lack the ‘warmth’ of vinyl records.”
Digital Marketing has played a major role in offering the vinyl lover a better choice of product along with a richer online shopping experience, particularly since the emergence of specialist or niche online vinyl retailers Discogs (http://www.discogs.com/) and Amazon Marketplace (http://www.amazon.com/Vinyl-Records-Albums-LPs-Eps/b?ie=UTF8&node=372989011) along with small independent records stores like Disc-Covery (http://www.disc-coveryrecords.com/).
Now, the customer can avail of competitive prices and a wide choice of product from traditional (Bricks) selling (ie major retailers Tower and HMV along with independent record shops) as well as (Clicks) online marketplaces Amazon, Discogs and others. Irish vinyl retailers Spindizzy http://www.spindizzyrecords.com/,Freebird https://twitter.com/FreebirdRecords and R.A.G.E. https://www.facebook.com/RageDublin have yet to fully embrace online sales though most continue to increase Brand awareness and drive sales through maintaining a strong digital presence on social media including Twitter, Facebook and You Tube.
One of the great benefits of going online though, is that it’s possible to track down virtually any vinyl album ever released. Recently, I sourced a used copy of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s 20 Greatest Hits. My budget was around 25e and I had several criteria:
– Reasonable price
– Easy to use online service experience
– Good quality or near mint condition of product
– Cheap shipping rates to Ireland
Amazon Marketplace’s search engine is easy to use and turned up a wide variety. However, accurate shipping rates to Ireland were hard to access. Prices were mostly in sterling which involved using a currency converter tool: http://www.xe.com/currencyconverter/
Discogs’ search engine is more elaborate and involves clicking on a number of links including ‘artist’, ‘album title’ and ‘media’ i.e. ‘vinyl’ before you arrive at a scroll down menu listing of available items. However, the site is relatively easy to use and within a minute I had a choice of over twenty records. Discogs provides easy to access and accurate shipping information on a link marked View Shipping and Payment Information). Many of the traders list prices in euro, which swung my choice. I bought from Discogs and received the LP within a few days. https://www.discogs.com/sell/order/2036419-9
The comeback of the vinyl album is for my money, one of the best benefits of the digital era.
By Ferdia Mac Anna
Why should Businesses engage in Digital Marketing Strategies?
“I fear for what 2014 holds for some brands, they’re just not getting how big the shift is, how much our consumer audience is changing” (Bosomworth, 2014).
One interesting question transcending all others concerning digital marketing is: Do I really need Digital Marketing as part of my overall marketing strategy? And if so, Why and ultimately, why now? This question has significance for small and medium businesses (SMEs) which have been successful using traditional marketing methods, for example, media and newspaper advertising over many years.
They may well query the need for Digital marketing at all. Many businesses have been successful through several economic downturns and social changes before the advance of digital technologies. The traditional method of targeting basically marketed everything to everyone, or mass marketing. This approach has come under scrutiny due to issues associated with cost control which Wanamaker referred to when commenting on fifty percent of marketing budgets being wasted and not being able to measure exactly which half (slideshare.net, 2014).
Nowadays, however, there are tools, ways and means inbuilt in digital marketing technologies which allow us measure exactly where the best return for money is highlighted on marketing and how budgets can be utilised far better to increase ROI and decrease loss making sales strategies. The rapid advance of all things digital is having a mammoth effect on the way business is being conducted, monitored and reviewed nowadays.
Examples of successful Digital Marketing Strategies
The Happy Pear is a natural food market situated in Greenstones, Co. Wicklow (www.thehappypear.ie). It also has a store which specialists in healthy eating produce, a juice bar, sprout farm and catering services. Although the company used a website for years, they decided to develop an online shop offering educational health courses and general healthy recipes and cooking techniques.
After incorporating various digital channels into their business strategy, their business expanded rapidly. Their website nowadays looks slick and includes links to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest and so forth. These platforms offer happypear.ie the opportunity to engage with their customers through specific information on healthy eating information guidelines, special deals and in store offers and the chance for site users to ask questions relevant to their interests and hapypear.ie.
Furthermore, it also illustrates that the business owners were aware of an audience shift and so they followed and accommodated their audience by finding where they resided online and connected with them. From a digital marketing perceptive, the benefits to the business are as follows:
- hiring additional staff to meet increased online demand ( increased employment)
- online courses facilitates customers where travelling distances are an issue (customer retention)
- ability to reach new destination like the UK and further afield (new markets to target for development)
- online environment allows for longer opening hours (improve CRM and eCRM)
- Increased product valuation concerning cooking tips and product informationtailored predominantly at target audience ( customer engagement )
The above example clearly illustrates that happypear.ie has been successful in grasping the capability of the internet, particularly digital opportunities, and in so doing can be seen as a business which have been successful in developing the many facets of digital marketing strategies.
Business example with no Digital Marketing Strategies?
As an example of a non-existent digital presence, Morrison’s a UK retailer announced poorer sales in the Christmas period, 2012-2013, due to a lack-lustre website and a non digital existence resulting in their competitors such as Tesco, Sainsburys and Asda gaining a competitive advantage (Computerweekly, 2014). Although Morrisons are a large UK retailer their oversight relating to the development of digital platforms reflected negatively on their ROI. In an attempt to rectify the situation, and answer a valid question, why do they need to introduce digital channels in their marketing campaign?
They have employed capgemini a technological consulting company to help them improve their online exposure by developing a multichannel approach in addressing their marketing needs as well as helping Morrisons understand the advantages of such a campaign (Computerweekly, 2014). Many social commentators have suggested that this too little too late as the retail sector is highly competitive and first movers have a notable advantage. As of February 2014 Lauchlan remarked “A salutary reminder …UK’s fourth largest supermarket chain Morrisons announced a full year pre-tax loss of £176 million for the year to 2 February 2014” (diginomica.com/2014/03/14/supermarket). Digital marketing it appears is fundamental to all business regardless of size.
Further afield, a motor dealer operating in Canada utilised digital marketing to drive the business forward and as such, the ROI has vastly increased. MacIver, a manager in the business contended that “as an early adopter of digital marketing and related tools, his dealership has seen a much higher return on investment than late adopters” (Rubenoff, 2013). Because this company realised the power the internet encompassed for their company and the need to engage with its potential, they have gained a huge advantage on their marketplace opponents. Their understanding of digital technologies coupled with their reasoning to adopt quickly and hire professional digital consultants to keep their web presence fresh and up to date has prepared them for future changes and increased their sales. Again this could be viewed as a successful digital marketing campaign.