2020 Fashion Marketing: Everything You Need To Know To Get Ahead Of The Curve
Fashion Marketing is my personal passion. We work with fashion brands and multi-brand retailers daily. Therefore, I think it’s our duty to write on this topic more. First of all, we love fashion and luxury marketing for its speed, borderless room for creativity and reach. And that’s why I’ve decided to add my 2 cents to the ocean of content on this topic.
Table of Contents
3 Vital Elements for Building or Sustaining a Successful Modern Fashion Brand:
Let’s start with the basics here. IMHO, Leadership, Marketing, and Finance are three vital parts of any fashion business as it can help a brand to get the products to the right customers profitably if done right. It is the only way a fashion brand can expand its market reach and stay in business.
I’ll elaborate on the Marketing component a bit more. While most people think that fashion marketing is just about modeling new products, it goes deeper than that. What’s more, the industry gets much more competitive with each passing day. Different businesses are pumping loads of capital to find ways they can get the edge and grow their reach, while still solidifying their grip on their current market base.
Fashion marketers have to research on their different target audiences and find innovative ways of getting to them. The global fashion market is noisy, very noisy! As a fashion marketer, you have to resonate with the customer and inspire them to develop an interest in the product and the brand. And not just a random customer, but a micro-targeted customer with a crystal clear set of values, beliefs, habits, expectations. An American woman, 40 to 50 years old with above-average income level as a Persona won’t be good enough of a targeting anymore.
Fashion Marketing is a different kind of animal.
Fashion marketing is very much different from the “normal” marketing for any other business. You can sustain the same marketing campaign for other businesses over an extended period of time. The fashion industry, on the other hand, is very dynamic and keeps changing as new trends come up every day. Marketing campaigns therefore only go for short cycles before fashion marketers are needed to come up with new campaigns for new products. The competition level is INSANE in fashion. This means that fashion marketing campaigns should be able to achieve its objectives as soon as they are launched. A good fashion marketing campaign should be able to balance both short-term gains and long-term goals.
And, just to mention, Fashion Marketing is being destroyed by the PROMO CULTURE. Black Friday, Christmas Sale, Final Liquidation Prices, 90% Off, Buy 1 get 2 Free, and so on and so forth. C’mon! This cannot continue!
Effective Fashion Marketing Tactics for 2020
The top fashion brands did not get to the top of the industry through sheer luck. One of the major components of their success is effective marketing strategies, tactics, and campaigns. Here are some effective fashion marketing moves that have proved tremendously successful for top fashion brands:
Competition doesn’t automatically translate to the enemy. Sometimes, your competition may be the key to your success. In the fashion industry, doing collaborations with your competitions can help you tap into their markets and break new grounds. It has worked for various brands before, the most notable ones being Nike and Off White, and H&M and Karl Lagerfeld among others. The collaborations helped the brands extend their product lines and increase their visibility.
2. Celebrity endorsements
Celebrity endorsements are also about increasing product visibility. Celebrities are usually almost worshipped by their fans and their opinions and choices are the ultimate truth. They are cult heroes.
Celebrity endorsements will not only help a fashion brand get new buyers but also loyal ones. No matter how big a fashion brand is, and a celebrity on its own rights, it can still do with a celebrity endorsement. For example, Rihanna was appointed as a creative director for women’s collection by Puma. Rihanna’s own fashion line, Fenty, has received celebrity endorsements from a number of superstars including Brandy, Cardi B, Ezra Miller, Gabrielle Union, and Karlie Kloss. Kanye West relied on celebrity endorsements from Calvin Harris and Justin Bieber to market his Yeezy Boost collection.
Newsjacking is a marketing strategy used by brands to capitalize on breaking news and trending topics to draw some of the attention to themselves and their products. David Meerman has been given credit for the popularity of newsjacking as a marketing strategy. The practice is quite common in the fashion industry. Fashion brands have often jumped on social media trending topics, especially on Twitter and Instagram, with humorous and sometimes direct marketing for their products. Here are some of the most renowned news jacks:
– Tide and Superbowl blackout: When the Superbowl experienced a blackout during a match, Tide saw an opportunity to market its washing detergent. They made a tweet saying that though they were unable to do anything about blackouts, they could help with getting stains out.
– Snickers and Luis Suarez World Cup bite: When Luis Suarez bite Giorgio Chiellini during a 2014 World Cup match between Italy and Uruguay, Snickers jumped in with a tweet advising the striker to grab a Snickers the next time he wants a bite.
Newsjacking has to be done right or it could backfire on the brand, as Kenneth Cole found out when the brand tried to take advantage of the Syrian Conflict to market their footwear.
4. Live Streaming
A live stream can help a fashion brand reach millions of potential buyers as product launches and other brand events don’t have to be a privilege closed-door moment for the elite. Everyone gets to watch the event in real-time from their devices. Live Streaming helps the fashion house expand visibility and reach new audiences. Instead of relying on livestreams from invited guests on their channels, a fashion brand should establish their own official Livestream channels. Besides YouTube, other platforms that can make for great live streaming include: – Facebook Live – Instagram Live – Periscope – Ustream – Diecast – Vimeo Livestream – Streamshark – Stretch Internet – Brightcove brands such as Louis Vuitton are already capitalizing on Instagram live streams.
5. Social Media Influencers
Insta is still going to be BIG! And if your target audience is older or younger, Pinterest and Snapchat are awesome. Do not ever forget about the second largest search engine in the world – Youtube – that keeps on trying to become a social media network.
Social media influencers can make a huge impact on a brand by simply giving them a mention or a review, or using their products. Influencer marketing is like high school, everyone wants to have what the cool kid has. Fashion brands can leverage on reputable fashion bloggers or vloggers to reach out to new market segments. It can lead to increased leads and sales. They can just generally share products from the brand or work in collaboration with a brand for a product-specific marketing campaign. One of the most common social media influencer campaigns is unboxing- in which the influencer uses a product for the first time and gives it a review on the camera. A classic example of influencer marketing is the unboxing video of Jordan Brand by YouTube vlogger Jacques Slade.
I am not a big fan but Giveaways can be an excellent way for fashion marketers to engage existing customers and acquire new ones for a brand. They can be used to promote new products or celebrate important occasions by the fashion brand. Giveaways help in creating brand awareness and growing the audience base. After a giveaway competition by Catparty on Instagram, the number of their followers increased by 70%.
7. Affiliate marketing
This is a BIG ONE!!!! Paying a commission to the webmasters that already have massive traffic to their digital assets is a BAD DRUG for fashion brands. It’s LOVE/HATE relationship really. On one hand, the revenue skyrockets fast. On the other hand, brand evaporates. So it’s a tough call to start or stop an affiliate marketing campaign.
One of the benefits of affiliate marketing is that the return on investment is almost guaranteed. It is a widely used marketing strategy for increasing online sales outside of your website or an app. The affiliates are usually paid on commission, which is a percentage of the sales made from their sales funnel. Affiliate marketing is a great way for fashion brands to develop brand advocates and work with various publishers for mutual benefit. The costs majorly depend on how the affiliate marketing program is set up.
Some of the best platforms for Fashion Affiliate Marketing include:
- CJ Affiliate (formerly Commission Junction)
- eBay partner network
- Rakuten Marketing
8. Style guides
You can dedicate a section exclusively to style guides and fashion tips. That style guides will give your website visitors ideas on how to dress and accessorize your brand and even incorporate your products with their wardrobe. You can do style guides for different seasons, special occasions, holidays, and topical themes such as a weekend getaway, work, and travel. When your audience is able to visualize how they would look in your products, they are likely to make a purchase.
In spite of the major shift towards digital marketing, traditional marketing platforms such as TV, radio, and newspapers are still relevant and can deliver a return on investment if well utilized. To realize any success with these traditional platforms, your brand should be able to tell a story. Well, the same stands for digital channels really. Just tap into people’s emotions in a positive manner and you’ll get rewarded. This has largely been Nike’s forte with their memorable campaigns. A perfect example was the “Just do it” campaign which also featured Colin Kaepernick.
10. Corporate Social Responsibility And Sustainability
While corporate social responsibility (CSR) and Sustainability may not have a direct impact on sales, it is a great way to establish brand awareness. In the long run, the fashion brand will be able to realize the benefits of CSR. You can never go wrong with giving back to the community.
Some of the notable brands who have realized tremendous growth after doing CSR activities include:
– Converse – The shoe brand set up a studio where New York artists could record their music for free. They do not claim ownership to the songs. Neither do they demand that the artists advertise the brand. This has had a huge impact on their popularity.
– Under Armour’s strategy to give free shirts to the National Football League (NFL) players resulted in shirt deals with more than 2 NFL teams.
– Lululemon offers free yoga classes every weekend in one of its California stores. This has elevated it as a fashion brand that cares about the wellbeing of its customers.
When thought and creativity are injected into a fashion marketing process, then there are higher chances of the fashion brand realizing returns on investment.
2020 Emerging Trends In Fashion Marketing
1. Omnichannel Retailing
Fashion brands are increasingly exploring the option of allowing customers to shop and receive products from channels of their choice. Retail stores can be able to cross-sell items from other stores. One of the fashion designers who are already exploring this is Lyn Evans. All of its stores have iPads which customers can use to order items from the other stores in case they don’t find their favorite item or color in that particular store. Another brand that has embraced omnichannel retailing is Gap.
But wait! If you think Omnichannel is about the channels, you are very much wrong. Omnichannel is all about the Data and Attribution for most fashion brands. Every time I speak with a CMO about the Omnichannel, we have to invite a CFO into the meeting room as well. Omnichannel is a cause for many internal company conflicts for lots of brands. “So who gets the bonus then?” is what makes the omnichannel so difficult for the companies leadership.
2. Product Customization
Fashion brands are increasingly allowing their customers to customize the products to their tastes and preferences. NikeiD on the Nike website gives customers the option of picking the pattern and colors they would want on their shoes. Black Lapel, Indochino, Vans, Ray-Ban, and Adidas among other brands also allow their customers to customize and personalize their orders.
3. Luxury Fashion Online Marketing
Online retail used to be left to fashion brands that were still trying to establish themselves. Not anymore. Luxury fashion brands are finally realizing how much potential online retail has to their business. Does it even make sense to list the luxury companies that sell online? It’s easier to list those who don’t. However, if you ask me how many luxury fashion brands are successful in selling online, I’d say “very few”.
E-Commerce marketing is HARD. It requires so many different expensive skill sets in your company that it barely breaks even. Hiring an internal expert data analyst and an external professional e-commerce marketing agency (may I say, like SONDORA MARKETING?) would be a great idea.
4. Visual Commerce
Visualization plays an important role in attracting customers. Amazon, in a bid to place itself as the top online retailer for fashion items, launched a photography studio with 22 photo bays in 2015. They also later launched a fashion site called Who What Wear aimed at enabling customers to shop for items that are inspired by celebrities. More and more brands are looking to curate photos in order to have a visualization effect on their customers.
Starting from 2019, lots of brands go beyond the standard visuals. Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality are yet quite slow in adoption by Fashion Brands. But I am pretty confident that this is a temporary state of things. AR and VR are going to be MASSIVE.
5. Integration Of Artificial Intelligence In Fashion Marketing
Fashion marketers are incorporating artificial intelligence in their marketing campaigns for greater return on investment all day long. AI has been pivotal in improving customer interactions and gives fashion marketers access to better and more reliable data analytics.
6. Social Shopping
Social media is increasingly becoming a storefront for fashion brands. The brands create links on social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest that redirect customers to their retail sites. Everyone does shopping ads for a good reason. It works beautifully.
But why Ads? You might ask. Why not organic reach on social media platforms? Well, thanks to Facebook’s Executive Team, the organic reach is aimed closer and closer to Zero now. Social Media Platforms have so much value that it wouldn’t be very smart not to monetize it. Would it? So if you want visibility, brand awareness and conversions, run Ads. As simple as that.
Phases Of Strategic Fashion Marketing
Let’s now move to the mechanics of Fashion Marketing.
In order to have in place a powerful roadmap and a successful set of marketing campaigns, fashion marketers usually undertake the following three phases in developing a strategic marketing campaign:
The fashion marketer does a market analysis so as to have a clear picture of the state of the brand. At this phase, the following functions are performed; – Analysis of competition – Research on the brand’s existing and potential customers. – Brand assessment – Industry trends After those functions are completed, the team comes up with a marketing plan.
The marketing plan is put into action. The fashion marketing team organizes resources, designs market organization and develops marketing schedules. The marketing plan developed in the first phase is used as a reference point for marketing tactics.
In this phase, the fashion marketing manager ensures that the results achieved from the marketing program are in line with the business goals that were set in the initial stages. Corrective actions are taken in case any deviations are noted so that the marketing campaign can stay on track. They also seek to maximize the positives. Basically, at this phase, the progress of the marketing campaign is monitored and evaluated.
The evaluation is done in the following ways:
- Looking at the strategy against the tactics;
- Are the actions aimed at achieving the set goals effective?
- Are there milestones that have been set to enable the marketing team knows when then they’ve achieved the goal?
- Can the strategy be interrupted by uncontrollable outside forces?
- Is the marketing strategy backed by a financial plan?
- Is there a contingency plan to deal with any unforeseen problems?
- Are all the factors- political, economic, social, and technical – that may affect the marketing campaign taken care of?
Key Components Of Fashion Marketing
With the cutthroat competition in the fashion industry, designers and fashion marketers cannot afford the luxury of wasting time and resources. They have to get it right the first time as the second chance is basically playing catch up to the competition. They, therefore, need to come up with a sound marketing strategy that guarantees results- leads and conversions. Here are 7 key components of fashion marketing;
1. Market research
The need for market research is even more profound in the fashion industry than any other. You need to understand the market size and its growth or decline, consumer spending habits, and any emerging trends in the industry. Some of the top publications that a fashion marketer can rely on for insights in the industry include Vogue, Elle, Glamour, Vanity Fair, Cosmopolitan, and InStyle among many others.
2. Target market
The marketing strategy should be able to comprehensively capture the target market for fashion products. Besides identifying the type of buyers most likely to purchase the product, it should also segment the target market into at least three levels for effective marketing campaigns and easy penetration.
3. Brand and product positioning
What kind of perception does the market have of the brand and its products? Are they perceived as the go-to brand for fashion items when on a budget? The market perception is an important element to consider when developing marketing campaigns. Once the fashion marketer understands the brands positioning, they will be able to develop effective campaigns that reinforce positive perceptions and change negative perceptions. They can communicate clearly on how they want the brand to be perceived.
4. Competitive Analysis
A brand can only ignore the competition at their own peril. A good fashion marketer will want to know who the competition is, the brand’s products are different from that of the competition, the market segment they operate in, and how they can have an edge over the competition. You have to stand out from your competition.
5. Effective marketing strategy
An effective marketing strategy is the only way to nurture leads and convert those leads to sales. The effectiveness of a marketing strategy is measured in terms of impressions, leads, and sales. The core question the marketing strategy should answer is, “how do I find and attract the target market?” After identifying the target market, they can use various tactics to reach them.
6. Marketing budget
The fashion marketer should be able to forecast how much budget they will need for a marketing campaign. The budget can be planned weekly or monthly. The budget should have a ceiling for each activity such that the marketer doesn’t waste funds on a strategy that is not generating a return on investment.
7. Marketing metrics
From start to the end of the marketing campaign, the fashion marketer should be able to measure the success of the campaign. They should be able to compare the budget spent on the entire campaign versus the actual return on investment. For online marketing campaigns, the marketer can rely on services such as Google Analytics to measure the metrics. This will help them to measure the effectiveness of their marketing strategies.
Do You Need To Be A Design Guru To Be A Great Fashion Marketer?
Obviously, Fashion marketers do not necessarily have to be designers. This does not mean that they do not have a say on the type of products that fashion brands put out to the market. On the contrary, they do have a big influence on the products and their designs. Fashion marketers carry out market research and therefore are in a better position to understand fashion trends and the impact they have on a business. They know which designs would be a hit and which wouldn’t. They therefore also contribute to the design of fashion products. The responsibilities of a fashion marketer include:
– Market Research and analysis:
This helps in decision-making with regards to fashion designs and business processes. They perform both quantitative and qualitative research into fashion trends and consumer behaviors.
– Brand design and development:
Fashion marketers are responsible for placing the brand such that the target audience can relate and feel a personal connection to the brand. They have to create the story behind the brand.
– Development and management of advertising campaigns:
Besides creating compelling advertisements for the products, fashion marketers also have to manage media planning to ensure that the ads are distributed as scheduled. They are responsible for both traditional and digital advertisements.
– Pricing and distribution of fashion products:
Fashion marketers contribute to the decision on how brands price and distribute their products. Through their market research, they can be able to tell which distributions channels are better performing and how to price the products for each channel. This helps the brand to maximize their profits from both retail and online stores.
And now, since you’ve gone through this “long read” and wonder how the hack is one person capable of doing so many things, I have to say that such people work at many fashion companies. They are incredibly talented people.
If you are just beginning your marketing career at a Fashion company, I’d recommend developing many soft and hard skills.
Marketing Skills For A Good Fashion Marketer:
– Good communication skills
– Outstanding Analytical Skills = numbers is everything in modern marketing
– Great taste and sense in Fashion
– Martech knowledge: the more in-depth the better
– Fast Decision-making
– Business acumen
– Ability to work in high-pressure environments
– Creative skills
– Sales skills: the amount of time and effort it takes to sell an idea inside the fashion company is just ridiculous sometimes.
Thanks for your attention. Please comment below and we’ll be happy to address any of your questions.