Monday, February 1, 2010

Six Social Sites Every Fashion Marketer Should Know

For nearly 100 years, the fashion industry was controlled by retailers, who decided what items from the upcoming collections are most relevant to their customer base. Today this is no longer the case – this is another proof that clarifies the importance of social media for today’s marketers.

I have been already blogging about the fact that social media has deconstructed traditional communication between retailer and consumers. Today a designer can easily communicate with her/his audience on a real-time basis through social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, Youtube Fansites etc. If designers do not join the online conversation with their audience, they will have a hard time to stay relevant. But there is one big problem in the fashion industry associated with that. While a designer doesn’t want to make her/his new clothes easily available in order to remain exclusive, he/she doesn’t want to be forgotten. Therefore, a marketer in fashion has to find the fine line between those two extremes.

Advertising Age has recently published the six social sites that every fashion marketer should know in order to keep up with the online discussions:

Us Trendy
Sense of Fashion
Est. Today
Style Hop

I have decided to look into each of these over the next couple of weeks to see how useful they really are. Are these sites helpful for listening and engaging with your customer base?

Please stay with me.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Brand Republic: Being a fan on facebook

Although I have been blogging before about how useful facebook can be for companies, i have found some research that is claiming the opposite. Brand Republic - a market-leading website for the online advertising, marketing, media and PR sectors - has recently done some street interviews in the UK asking people about their opinion and experience with fan sites on facebook.

These are the snapshots of the interviews:

According to this study people seem not to be really interested in becoming a fan of brands on facebook. These interviews were of course only made with a small group of selected people, so that one might argue that the results are not representative. Nevertheless, it seems to me that a majority of Facebook users (including me) don't see the benefit of becoming a fan of most of the brands on Facebook. This issue goes back to one of my previous postings about Victoria's Secret and Facebook. Facebook is only an effective marketing tool if the company finds a way to differentiate itself from its competitors on Facebook and clearly shows its customers the benefits of being their 'Facebook fan'.

But aren't companies dealing with the same issues in the offline marketing world too??! I think that with some creativity there are many ways to use Facebook to your advantage!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

YouTube's biggest showoffs....

A new fashion-related viral video trend are haul videos that are mainly posted on Youtube. People (predominantly teenage girls) talk in more or less short videos about where they just went shopping and show what they bought there. Some of them even mentioned prices of every single piece.

Fashion companies have been following the individuals that are showing off their merchandise. The industry is sceptical on using haul videos for advertising purposes. Although these videos can be used to gather some feedback from customers and fans, I think (and I hope) this tool will not make it into the tool mix of e-marketers in fashion companies.

Those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about have to see this video:

Friday, November 27, 2009

GAP sets benchmark for mobile marketing

Since we have been discussing the possibilities of mobile marketing in our last e-marketing class, I was curious to see if there is a fashion company that makes use of this promising marketing tool. The company that I stumbled upon first was the Gap, which ended up being a pretty interesting story.

The fashion retailer launched a competition this summer asking people to come up with ideas about what GAP could be doing with the iPhone. The winner who was announced in August 2009 was a company called IntuApps whose ideas were later used for the development of an app called Gap StyleMixer. This is a short demo of the app IntuApps developed:

The final version of the social shopping app enables users to mix and matches clothes, find inspiration, get advice and more. StyleMixer can help the user to organize outfits that can be shared on Facebook to get feedback from friends. Users can even integrated clothes from their own closets. But the most revolutionary part of the app is the fact that the app unlocks special denim discounts when users are near a Gap store by using GPS technology.

And this is how the app and a discount look like:

I think Gap has done a great job in incorporating mobile technology into its e-marketing strategy. Gap fans can discover new trends and items and share it right away with their friends. However, many users have complained about the lack of items in this app. There is obviously no point in putting together outfits if there are not enough items to choose from. Especially with the store discount function, this app shows great potential for Gap. Nevertheless, the retailer has to make sure that a better selection of merchandise is included so that Gap fans can use it to its full extent.

Found via Mobile Marketer

Thursday, November 19, 2009

From Couture to Conversation

In my last post I have been blogging about a study that rated the digital competence of 109 luxury brands, some of them being fashion companies. The fashion company with the third highest rating (rank #11) was Gucci and today I totally understand why.

Gucci introduced its latest line of eyewear with a viral ad campaign by launching a website called This site lets visitors upload their own party pictures of which some of them will be chosen by Gucci and displayed on the website as if they were reflections in the various new eyewear styles. And this is how it looks like:

Patrizio di Marco, Gucci’s president, sees this initiative as a "tactical web promotion." According to him, is a component of an integrated marketing plan for the launch of Gucci’s new youth-oriented sunglass collection. As social networking is an important activity for this target demographic today, this component has been the heart of the marketing plan. He also elaborates on the fact that the investment in building and maintaining this site equals to a handful pages in a traditional marketing campaign. Given that this site can be reached internationally, this investment can be highly efficient.

This is another example how companies step away from traditional marketing communication to more conversational marketing. This campaign is entirely build on customer involvement and would not work without customers' willingness to share their personal pictures. I am not sure if this campaign will be a success. What I am sure though is that Gucci will be able to easily track the conversion rate as each site of shows the direct link to the online shop.

I could not hold off myself to test this website and to upload some of my pictures. Let’s see if I get picked by Gucci… I’ll keep you posted!

Found via The New York Times

Monday, November 16, 2009

Digital IQ Rating of Luxury Brands

Trying to find the fashion companies who are doing a good job of exploiting e-commerce and social media opportunities, I have stumbled across a very interesting study done by NYU's Stern School of Business. This study rates the digital competence of 109 luxury brands in 11 categories grouped into four criteria:

1. Search Engine Optimization
2. Brand Translation
3. Leveraging the Medium
4. Social Media

The following table shows how fashion brands were ranked among other luxury brands:

Only Louis Vuitton and Ralph Lauren made it in the Top 10 of luxury brands that were rated in this study. I was not surprised that consumer electronics such as Apple (rank #1) are doing a better job in exploiting the Internet opportunities. But should automotive companies such as BMW (rank #2) and Audi (rank #4) perform better than fashion companies? Would we not expect fashion companies who are supposed to be the masters of image creation to rank higher?

The comment on Marc Jacobs online appearance: “no e-commerce capacity; site is little more than a digital runway show” was relatively brutal. I think that all the low ranked high-end fashion companies should definitely look into this study and try to benchmark and compare themselves with competitors inside and outside the fashion industry.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Marc Jacobs: Viral marketing in Fashion

Marc Jacobs is a highly successful American fashion designer. Being the head designer for Marc Jacobs and the diffusion line Marc by Marc Jacobs, the designer is currently the Creative Director of the French design house Louis Vuitton. Last year Marc Jacobs used social media smartly to launch a viral marketing campaign. He decided to name a bag after a fashion blogger called Bryanboy after the blogger made this amusing documentary about the designer:

Once the bag was lauched, ad for the ostrich bag was built around Bryanboy:

This step has not only helped Bryanboy to become a star, who is now being invited to almost every fashion show but more importantly helped Marc Jacobs to have a free avalanche of publicity in the world of fashion. I think it was a brilliant idea to choose a controversial fashion blogger who is often described as the "gay version of Paris Hilton." I can clearly see a trend where companies tend to choose their best and most influential customers to use them for their ad campaigns. In my post about American Apparel using Chictopia to find models we could see a similar strategy. Social media is really changing the marketing world!