Social media is nothing new, but for many fashion brands in the women’s and junior’s spaces, it is still a challenge to start using social media in order to help their brands’ marketing goals. In order to help you get started, we have created a showcase of 12 WWDMAGIC brands using social media to drive their overall online marketing strategies. Whether you are a large or small brand, social media is not something that can be ignored. Here is a look at the brands, their platforms and how they are tackling online marketing through e-commerce. Continue Reading
Luxury Brands and their adoption of social media is the topic du jour. The conversations are noisy, speculative and highly theoretical. Every self-proclaimed social media expert seems to have the answer, but their strategies have massive disconnects. Why? Because they’re not working in luxury.
Thankfully, as the fashion industry adopts new methods of marketing online, seasoned luxury marketers are speaking out and becoming voices of reason. The Luxury Institute, Scott Galloway (Professor at NYU Stern) of LuxuryLab, Dana Gers and WWD are putting theory into practice and implementing strategies that could once again make luxury the leader it has always been.
How Luxury Brands Can Market to the Masses While Maintaining Brand Exclusivity
At the heart of luxury branding conversations are questions related to community. It’s been interesting to see how luxury brands adopt social media while also trying to balance their exclusive appeal with the social masses. Does social media make luxury brands too accessible and diminish the brand value and perception of affluence?
No, not if implemented correctly. That’s why luxury retailers such as Burberry, Gucci and Mercedes Benz are creating their own private networks for their most affluent customers or making niche content sites that focus on limited product selection. They do this while also marketing to the masses on Twitter and Facebook.
The words Exclusivity and Luxury have always been synonymous. As luxury brands move marketing efforts online, they need to focus on creating unique, no, make that UNFORGETTABLE EXPERIENCES. Whether the medium is Facebook or their own communities, brands have to engage their audiences, and they have to do so on a consistent basis.
Luxury Retail Brand Burberry Launches ArtOfTheTrench.com
A great example of a luxury brand building and developing its own community is Burberry. Burberry will launch its own social networking site, ArtOfTheTrench, next month. Currently, Burberry boasts more than 660,000 fans on Facebook, and many marketers are questioning why Burberry wants to create its own network when it already has such a large Facebook presence.
Burberry, in launching ArtOfTheTrench, wants to create an experience outside the environment of mass market social communities. Burberry is not neglecting or doing away with its Facebook community, but it is simply giving users another outlet. The brand will undoubtedly use its Facebook and other social presences to drive traffic to ArtOfTheTrench. Launching its own community refines the audience from the larger social networks.
Burberry is filtering users – giving a smaller segment of users a more personalized experience with the brand and isolating customers who are more likely to become long-term customers. By raising the barrier, Burberry is increasing engagement with those individuals who “…might not even be customers yet. Or they may be a customer for a bottle of fragrance or for eyewear. These are the customers who need the brand experience, who need to feel the brand. That word-of-mouth spreads through their social networks and continues to be a positive conversation…that is so powerful,” as CEO Angela Ahrendts told the Financial Times.
And while many older, affluent and wealthy individuals are engaging in social media, there are still some who will not connect with the brand through Facebook or Twitter. A more exclusive site like ArtOfTheTrench gives Burberry the opportunity to capture those individuals who shy away from Facebook or Twitter, and these individuals can learn about the site through in-store events or through the personal relationships they have with their Burberry sales associates.
In researching reactions to Burberry launching their own social network, I found an insightful post via Tenaya Group that asked great questions on community and online strategy. Here are some of the questions Tenaya Group posed, along with answers and ideas I have:
“If Art of the Trench focuses on pictures of customers in Burberry coats, one might then ask, “What’s the sustaining attraction?”
I see some real brilliance in Burberry’s strategy, and I think they are sustaining attraction in several ways. I also think Burberry can fine-tune its strategy to sustain attention for even longer.
Yes, it is difficult for users to cut through clutter and find what he or she needs to amplify their life on a daily basis, but Burberry’s highly-focused network may be a something that consumers are willing to adopt. For instance, Burberry’s creative director, Christopher Bailey, hired The Sartorialist‘s Scott Schuman to launch the site with photos of people in trenchcoats spotted on major city streets. According to the Financial Times, “One analyst said the move fitted with Burberry’s efforts to win over younger people, who may prove more resilient in terms of luxury spending.”
This association is a strategic alliance for Burberry; whether someone is an independent blogger, fashion iconoclast or a traditional industry professional, he or she knows who Scott Schuman is. The Satoralist site crosses multiple verticals and industries, including technology. Undoubtedly, Burberry will leverage Schuman’s multiple audiences to generate broader awareness of the niche website.
The Satorialist focuses on high fashion photographs, with photos showcasing how consumers wear high-end fashion lines. Everyone who engages in social media wants to be known in one way or another, and pictures tell stories; they allow everyday people to share lives with others. Moreover, social media allows consumers to show the brands they purchase and how they incorporate the brand’s products into their lives.
Sites such as Chictopia, Style Hive, Lookbook.Nu, Modepass, Weardrobe and even Closet Couture have large communities, and users engage daily with creating outfits, rating outfits and sharing their personal styles. Burberry would do well to target some of these sites audiences to drive traffic and participation in its network.
“How deep is the customer ‘brand experience’ in seeing photos of others in Burberry outfits? Might this undercut the Burberry identity so ably set forth in exquisite photos and videos of Burberry-adorned models?” – Tenaya Group
Burberry is experimenting with user-generated content. That’s a huge step socially. Photo quality isn’t something I’d worry about with user-generated content. Most users on sites such as Weardrobe, Lookbook.Nu and Modepass offer some stunning, though amateur, photographs. The content that users generate for Burberry’s network would fall in line with Burberry’s style. Users of photo-sharing sites attempt to create a certain aesthetic and put time and effort into the outfits they create. I’m sure if a user does a phenomenal job, Burberry will recognize a potential brand evangelist in the making and incorporate them accordingly into their online marketing efforts.
One concern for Burberry is that members of its new network may be bargain hunters that flock to Burberry’s factory outlets. This outlet mentality can turn the brand conversation into a downward spiral of discount and price, where the hot topic is, “What’s the best deal?” The network can then become a force for commoditizing the brand. As soon as someone saves big bucks on a particular item, the entire network will know it, and may shop on price accordingly. – Teyana Group
This is a valid issue to bring up. Could Burberry outlet stores lead to online brand dilution? Again, this can be avoided if handled properly.
Brands such as Gucci and Burberry make a large percentage of their revenues in accessories and leather goods that cost under $300 USD. It’s the same with sales outlets. Coach’s outlets are what have kept it afloat in current economic times. Customers who shop through the main Burberry website and through retails stores and who also shop at Burberry outlets stores know the differences between retail stores and outlet stores. Often times, outlet lines carry discontinued items and/or are specifically designed to meet lower price points. As a consumer, and as a fierce female shopper, I can tell the difference between Coach and Coach Outlet.
If Burberry focuses on its goals and on building attention around the products it wants online audiences to engage with and eventually purchase, it can be successful. I believe that the goal of ArtOfTheTrench is to create a highly-refined experience that focuses on a single item.
Luxury brands are about passion, aspiration and desire. They are also about creating experiences. Luxury brands are taking those ideals online and creating spaces for small concepts to live and flourish. As the web becomes more and more cluttered, I see the need for luxury brands to use online marketing strategies that can cut through the jumble. I think luxury brands can do this by focusing on a single product or small collection (line refinement has been one of the industry hot topics). In the years ahead, luxury brands may very well lead the industry in terms of innovative online marketing.
In this strategy the brand becomes a force for joint cultural innovation with customers. Burberry leads this (shared) brand journey as a creative, social, moral and cultural driver in defining new horizons for its customers. In this role Burberry is “out of the closet” and into the veins. Burberry becomes “innerware” instead of “outerware.” – Teyana Group
The overnight popularity of Facebook and Twitter (CNN and Oprah) has resulted in a influx of social users; last month, Comscore reported that Twitter had 9.3 million visitors and Facebook had 200 million. The spotlight on social media has driven record user registrations; brands are following suit, using Twitter & Facebook as promotional tools.
Has the mass adoption of social media by brands and retailers led to its oversaturation?
No it hasn’t, no more so than the mass adoption by consumers. Television and print attention has pushed social media to the next level (the only place it could really go); garnering it mainstream, mass appeal.
I believe the question of “oversaturation” is actually another issue being raised by social marketers that have had amazing social marketing successes until now. Now, their clients are asking for more quantifiable, measurable results and they can’t produce the results. Furthermore, these individuals are finding that they more competition established agencies and boutique outlets with more bandwidth. More marketing firms are integrating social media divisions; they know it’s necessary in order to stay viable in today’s market.
These divisions and individual marketers are developing strategies that have taken social marketing to the next level. We can now build brand awareness, convert new users, drive web traffic and convert that traffic to online sales. We are monetizing social media, which has been the ongoing question from the beginning of web 2.0. We’re saying that social media success isn’t defined by how many fans a brand’s Facebook page has, how many followers on Twitter a brand has or how many retweets a particular topic recieved. We are saying social marketing success is shown through sales conversions and growth.
How do brands and retailers change their online marketing strategy?
The social engagement strategy (the way in which a brand or retailer interacts with it followers and fans) for brands will follow a similar model that they’ve taken with customer service (listening and providing amazing experiences) and be more involved with their followers. Brands will cater their social outlets to their fans’ and followers’ wants & needs (ultimately let their fans shape their social media strategy); thereby cutting through the noise being generated by the larger volume of retailers online.
What marketing tactics should brands take into account for social marketing right now?
1. A brand has to have a strategy. Don’t launch or implement anything haphazardly. If you want to develop a Facebook or iPhone application, don’t do because it’s cool or you want one. Do an analysis of what that application will do for the brand. Will it build awareness, will it generate sales or drive web traffic? Ask yourself, “Why would someone choose to integrate my app over someone else’s?”
2. Active engagement. If you’re a brand with a Facebook page or Twitter account, actively maintain them. Use your Twitter & Facebook page as you would use your blog, share information, add photos, report trends, new products, event promotions, etc.
Your blog, facebook and twitter content should all match. Make sure you talk to your fans and followers. If someone friends you or follows you – THEN FOLLOW THEM BACK (you can use Social Too to maintain this). It rude not to follow your customers back, unless they are spammers or absolutely insane. Here are some great examples of fan pages:
3. Don’t completely replace old promotion methods with social media. Use social media to enhance traditional marketing initiatives; only use social media for things worth marketing. You don’t always have promote sales, discounts, etc. Interact as a person, not a robot. It’s okay to share great office stories, runway malfunctions and behind the scenes info; it allows your customer to identify with your brand. You’ll recieve a better return on the time invested and you’ll set yourself ahead of the competition.
This posted was inspired by Twitterati: So Last Week.
On Monday, The Footwear News section of WWD.com conducted multiple, in-depth interviews with Zappos.com CEO, Tony Hsieh and CFO, Alfred Lin. After visiting Zappos in October last fall, I fell in love with them. Their brand, their customer philosophy and the humility that they conduct their business is amazing. Zappos receives tons of press and coverage on their business (a $1.2 billion dollar company after just 9 years).
The interviews with Zappos on Apparel, Zappos Facts and Marketing support the 10 steps to building a social brand I believe that a brand or retailer need to accomplish in order to become a social success.
1. A brand or retailer should take a holistic approach to it’s marketing strategy.
2. Consistency is key. For every product a brand or retailer launches, the product must match the company’s main product model. Example: Coach & Brighton Handbags, both brands have added shoes, jewelry and accessory lines; all these products match and coordinate with their original product – hand bags.
3. Word-Of-Mouth Marketing more powerful than paid advertising or product placement. Word of Mouth marketing has replaced the effectiveness of paid advertising. A customer believes their friend or relative, they trust them as a reliable source of information.
4. Product reviews are a new form of PR. Product reviews are essential sales tools that add credibility to a product and aid in customer purchase decisions. Product reviews also help buyers change their selection before the purchase; if 85% of those reviews say that something runs a size too big, the customer can buy one size smaller, there by decreasing their likelihood of returning the product.
5. A brand or retailer can do more with less. Discover what social communities (Facebook, YouTube, MySpace, Polyvore, Closet Couture, Lookbook.Nu) are most worthwhile to your brand and put your time and energy into those. It’s better to actively engage in 3-5 communities than have a so-so presence on 15-25.
6. Social networking on sites like Facebook.com, YouTube, Twitter are essential for spreading word of mouth, building brand awareness online and engaging with customers on the internet.
7. Blogs are essential. They are cost effective (free) outlet for building website content, supporting SEO/SEM campaigns and delivering news. Blogs also give transparency to brand or retailer, it shows there’s someone behind the site. A great example is 1928 Jewelry’s blog, http://www.jewelrygalblog.com or Hayden-Harnett’s blog at http://www.hayden-harnet.com
8. Video and Podcasts are cost effective marketing outlets. Videos serve many of the same purposes as blogs. Not all customers will read blogs, but they watch videos and stream audio. Having content available in all mediums is going to be essential for retail websites in the future. Current 25% of Google searches are comprised of VIDEO; videos are also essential for SEO/SEM initiatives. In the future, all brands are going to need to incorporate video into their websites. Those videos will need to be an extension of the brand, not just a part of the website; they will have to be incorporated in.
9. Affiliate marketing is an easy, affordable to drive traffic and build brand awareness for retailers. The return is similar to that of pay per click advertising, a great traffic booster and revenue booster.
10. As an online site grows, the marketing strategy must mature. As the retailer grows, affiliate programs may become obsolete. Direct mail and search engine marketing allow a brand to control its message more effectively and may prove to be more cost effective. A brand or retailer will eventually have to invest in large scale advertising, much like Hulu.com and Zappos.com are doing now.
Last week, Women’s Wear Daily interviewed David Birnbaum on retail strategies in the current economy. Birnbaum concluded that in order to remain a viable brand, long term survival depended on a brand or retailer rethinking and redefining the relationship that it had with its customer.
To accomplish this, understand that:
1. Customers are multi-brand loyal. Listen to what the costumer wants and have to give it to them. If they think you’re listening to their needs and their wants; they’ll come to you first because you are meeting their needs. It’s all about THEM.
2. Remain consistent. The product is the same start to finish, don’t substitute a cheaper alternative to save a few dollars; you compromise the perceived quality the customer whats to pay for. Compromise that and loose the customer.
3. Don’t assume that the brand or retailer controls the market. Reality check, the birth of Web 2.0 and the increasing popularity of social communities, blogs and retail news breaking tools like Twitter, we’ve actually lost control. Customers can say what they like and don’t like a retailer or brand instantly. Fashion bloggers break trends (and create them) faster than traditional media. Consumers control the market more and more. Don’t turn an deaf ear or attempt to control it, you’ll achieve lack luster results. Instead, figure out how to leverage the individuals’ work and efforts. Build a relationship with them as you would your customer, it’ll do nothing but build your brand.
To read the Birnbaum’s Women’s Wear Daily interview, click below.
The Internet can be confusing to anyone in the fashion industry. There are thousands of websites, resources and blogs that offer information on marketing, celebrity fashion, trends, “what’s hot now” articles, website tutorials – the list goes on and on.
So how do you cut through the good, the bad, the ugly and sometimes utterly bizarre and establish a core group of web resources that will educate, illuminate and help you monetize your web ventures? Following in Mashable’s steps with their article, the Top 25 sites for the Fashion Minded, I’ve compiled a list of sites that retailers, designers, writers and industry professionals should know about.
Glam.com – Glam.com is a one-stop shop for articles fashion news, celebrity happenings, trend watching and lifestyle articles. The Glam Publishers’ Network allows you to syndicate your blog content, increase site revenue and boost your brand awareness.
Bust Magazine – Bust is the online version of the magazine; it offers fashion, lifestyle and beauty articles. Bust’s amazing Girl Wide Web offers a blog directory of female writers/bloggers. If you are looking to explore world women’s issues, the alt-side of sex, art or any other topic, the directory is a great place to start.
Behind The Runway – Behind the Runway is Web 2.0-inspired fashion website. With a philosophy of “a woman should have a wardobe that wears her, and not the other way around,” BTR aims to help the woman behind the clothing shine through. BTR offers a unique view into the world of fashion, one that’s unairbrushed, unedited, and unmistakably real. I personally love the concept of inner beauty is a woman’s best accessory. The site launches March 7th, 2009.
BusinessOfFashion.net – Business Of Fashion is a portal to the latest international fashion news online. BoF explores issues at the intersection of fashion and business, leveraging a network of writers in New York, Los Angeles, France, Italy and Germany who deliver opinionated analysis on emerging designers and global brands from around the world. BOF has recently added emphasis on independent fashion designers, writers and trendsetters working to clear the convoluted blogosphere and draw attention to those offering well thought out, original online content.
Think Fashion – Think Fashion one part digital magazine, one part social community, one part etail. Throw out your gossip rags and get your Hollywood juice here.
Inside The Tents – offers up to the minute online news coverage on everything related to New York Fashion Week. Founded by Yuli Ziv of Style Coalition & My It Things, I love the social sharing of Fashion Week through Twitter and Flickr.
IndependentFashionBloggers.org – IFB is a blog/community forum created in reaction to corporate networks springing up than the Jennine Tamm could keep track of. IFB is a community of independent fashion lovers, independent fashion labels or women who love some aspect of fashion/design and have dedicated their writing to their passion. The community is supportive and informative; forum participants are dedicated to supporting fellow members in growing their online businesses and monetizing their websites.
Trendhunter.com – Trend Hunter offers overall trend reports on 2,200+ micro trends grouped into 300+ clusters of inspiration. It offers free overviews of emerging trends and scales up to paid trends in niche industry including fashion, design, online marketing, mobile technology and eco-green initiatives. Monthly videos and weekly emails make for quick information updates on all areas of lifestyle marketing.
Fashion 156 – Inspiration is international, in this case, it’s English. Fashion 156 is an online fashion magazine for men & women written in London. It’s a great resource for all things UK and offers an innovative way to look at vintage-inspired fashion.
Style.com – The online home of Vogue. Style.com offers designer video profiles, trend reports, international fashion news and an interactive community that includes lookbook features.
Stylist.com – Stylist.com goes beyond fashion, it encompasses, hair, beauty and home. Stylist.com talks about what is hot now, what the average woman is wearing and how she is wearing it on the street.
Spring Spotters – The Springspotter Network consists of thousands of business-savvy individuals from all over the world, users email Springspottters whenever they ‘spot’ a promising new business idea. Accepted contributions get rewarded with cool stuff (iPods, gift certificates, books – stuff you actually want) and occasionally mention in the Springspotter newsletter.
Social Sites & Lifestyle Blogs
ClosetCouture.com – Closet Couture is a different breed of outfitting website. Closet Couture has it’s a user take photos of what’s in her closet and other members can give her advice on whether an outfit works or not. If a user has friends on the site, she can borrow clothes from her friend’s closet – either online or in real life. Closet Couture offers a unique service for retail brands and wardrobe stylists; it allows brands and stylists to help member pair clothing and accessories. So for a stylist who is trying to make a name for herself, this a great way to garner exposure. For a brand, it’s a great way to build brand awarness and listen to what women buying your products actually want.
Notcouture.com – You can add images of fashion and fashion related accessories you find around online that inspire you to create a PICTUREBOOK to achieve “a visual filtration of ideas + aesthetics + amusements.”
Polyvore.com – If you aren’t a Photoshop expert, you can fake it. Polyvore allows you to create and edit fashion sets created from items saved from real online stores. They don’t have to be outfit sets; you can also create groups items. Once done, save it and show it off to other site visitors so they can comment on the look you created. You embed them on your blog as well.
Weardrobe.com – Weardrobe is a fashion community focused not just on what you wear, but how you wear it. It was inspired by the unique and inspirational styles of “What I Wore” fashion bloggers and groups like wardrobe remix. Create inspirations by posting photos of your outfits. Very similar to Closet Couture.
OSOYOU.com – Find items you like in shops, drag them to your profile, share them with others, buy what you want. A great community of women internationally offer sensible and savvy fashion ideas (Mashable 2008).
Fashionising.com – A social site for fashion professionals. The site offers a mixture of fashion news and trends. I consider it one of the best blogs on emerging and extremely fashion forward trends out there.
FashionIndie.com – One of the most comprehensive independent, well written and well thought out, pop culture-inspired sites out there. Daniel Saynt of Fashion Indie covers every industry – and a few non industry – topic under the sun. This blogzine is a DAILY MUST READ.
StyleHive.com – Part social network and part social book marking for the fashion and shopping obsessed people out there. Style Hive offers user-generated fashion trends for anyone who lives for fashion, home design and shopping.
StyleMob.com – A place for street fashionistas to post their looks and let “the mob” vote on it. Can post the looks to many of the popular social networks (Mashable 2008).
TeamSugar.com – A women’s only social network with blogs on the latest trends, sharing your shopping finds, recipes, celebrity style, pets, politics and anything else you can imagine. My Favorite is StyleIt.
Chictini.com – Chictini could be considered the “Digg” of Fashion. Chictini is a fashion social network that focuses on fashion discovery. You can submit products and show off your personal style. Community users are able to vote on weather something is “weak” or “chic”.
StyleFeeder.com – A browser add-on that allows you to shop online with friends, and get instant responses to what they think of a product before you buy it. It integrates into most social media applications including Facebook.
ThisNext.com – ThisNext.com is the social shopping site where people explore, discover and rave about the hottest products. Their good karma mantra is “Great products can help us do, be and experience the things that make us happy. Our goal is to help people discover great and deeply gratifying products and not waste your hard earned money.” Loving that philosophy.
PR Couture – Where online publicity and fashion HONESTLY live; PR Couture is a respected online resource for successful, emerging and aspiring fashion publicists, designers, students, and educators to share tips, tricks, challenges, and commentary about the role of public relations in the fashion industry.