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.
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 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!
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.
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.
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.
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%.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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;
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
– 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.
Author: Dennis Dubner, CEO of SONDORA MARKETING – a digital marketing agency helping brands with better marketing strategies, revenues, and bottom line.Win Loss Analysis – Best Marketing Practices for 2019
It’s a scenario you probably know well. You’ve finally closed the deal, the immediate future looks great for your business and the entire team is in the mood to celebrate. You’ve hit your targets ahead of time, you’re looking at a decent period with zero uncertainty ahead and your confidence is sky-high.
But here’s the thing – tomorrow is a new day, with new targets to assign and new challenges to face. The question being, what can you do to repeat this all-around success going forwards?
In my experience, this is where many businesses go wrong. They ride the wave of a recent big success, which is fine, but they ride it way too long. Assumptions are made based on immediate successes and insufficient effort is made to encourage history to repeat itself.
The result of which, as you can imagine, tends to be a disappointment.
If you fall on the more proactive side of the spectrum, what should you be doing to make things happen again and again?
The answer – conducting a win/loss analysis could help steer things in the right direction.
Carrying out a win/loss analysis (aka post-decision interviews) gives you the opportunity to replicate your biggest successes indefinitely. It’s also just as important for generating key insights as to why you didn’t hit your targets, helping guide your subsequent decisions and actions accordingly.
Win/loss analysis is one of the many options on the table for repeating your successes, but it’s a highly effective and measurable method.
At its core, a win/loss analysis provides the opportunity to assess your business and its performance from the perspective of your customers. It delivers a detailed overview of your points of appeal, areas for improvement and the reasons why you won or lost. Rather than assuming you know what contributed to your recent success or failure, you go directly to your customers and request their feedback.
Interviews can be carried out via various channels, but I’ve noted the most helpful insights are generated by in-person discussions or telephone conversations. Postal or email surveys are an option but don’t provide the opportunity to dig deeper than the base questions you ask. You can even ask a third-party to handle things on your behalf, but then you can’t be sure they’ll probe as deeply or specifically as you would personally.
By ensuring you (or your team) contact customers directly, you access a number of key benefits such as:
You’ll still produce helpful data through traditional questionnaires and surveys, but I strongly recommend at least some in-person interviews where possible.
The primary benefit of a win/loss analysis is the unique customer-first perspective it provides of your successes and failures. A strong and on-going sales strategy is mandatory for the consistent performance of your organization. A win/loss analysis provides the opportunity to gather, analyze and retain the kind of priceless data that can help improve success rates and identify areas of weakness.
In fact, there’s no more effective way of getting to know your business from the perspective of its customers than through win/loss analysis.
Specifically, win/loss analysis delivers such key insights as:
These are just a few of the insights you’ll gain access to by performing an effective win/loss analysis. Ultimately, the data you collect can be used as the basis for your on-going marketing and PR strategy.
The benefits of win/loss analysis are therefore clear, but what’s the best way of getting started?
It’s worth remembering that the data you collect will only be as useful as the collection method allows. Hence, it’s useful to view the win/loss analysis interview process in three specific stages:
In the wake of success or failure, you’ll first need to pen a robust interview strategy with your sales and marketing team, with the input of your customer service heads. Consider the questions you’ll be asking, who will carry out the interviews and how they will be performed. I recommend planning for interviews that last around 30 minutes, though allow extra time in instances where further probing is necessary. Make things as easy and comfortable as possible for the interviewee, which will encourage their participation and help maintain their interest.
Don’t be afraid to go off-script during the interview if you feel additional or modified questions could prove helpful. It’s also important to conduct the interview as objectively as possible, allowing as little emotion as you can to affect your approach. The customer should be reminded of the importance of their honesty, irrespective of how their thoughts and opinions differ from those of the interviewer. Stick with the timetable you assign as strictly as possible, in order to avoid frustrating the interviewee.
The data collected during each interview should be reviewed and analyzed with equal importance. Rather than searching for findings that correlate with your own beliefs, you need to consider every viewpoint and experience carefully. It’s also important to thank each participant after the event for their contribution to the project.
Post-decision interviews shouldn’t be conducted only in the wake of major wins or losses. Instead, they should form an integral part of your core sales, marketing, and customer service strategy. At least, if you prioritize continuous improvement and customer satisfaction.
There are, however, some ground rules that should be followed to make the most of every win/loss analysis carried out. Looking ahead to the remaining months of 2019, the following represent the most important best-practice guidelines to gain maximum value from your post-decision interviews:
Your findings will be skewed if you speak to a disproportionate number of satisfied or dissatisfied customers. You can only expect to achieve clear and balanced insights if you ensure both sides are represented equally. It’s also worth remembering that every interview represents an invaluable opportunity to get a disenchanted customer back on board with whatever it is you do.
As a general rule of thumb, try to ensure your interviews are carried out no more than two months (or eight weeks) following the event or action. The more time that passes, the more inaccuracies and inconsistencies may find their way into the participants’ accounts. It can also be useful to gauge the emotional responses of your customers to your brand, which will be at their rawest and strongest immediately after the event.
Consider the information you’re most interested in collecting and work backward to establish the questions you’ll need to ask. To what extent did you satisfy the customer? Which of your competitors were also in contention? Why did they choose you? What would it take to keep them coming back? Why didn’t you win their business? What would they change about the experience? What advice could they offer you? What were their perceptions of your representatives? What are your biggest strengths and weaknesses?
If impartiality is to be achieved, the interview must take place in a non-sales environment with zero pressure and with no hint of a sales pitch. Effective post-decision interviews can help get disenchanting customers back on board, but this should never be your priority. Salesmanship and marketing talk has no place in the mix – the same also applying to your own personal feelings and emotions.
If you simply cannot guarantee 100% objectivity and impartiality with your own representatives, you may need to consider hiring a third party. This may be the only way of achieving a true non-sales environment for the interviews, ensuring the results aren’t skewed by your own biased views, opinions, and objectives. Outsourcing can bring its own unique challenges into the mix but does at least guarantee neutrality and objectivity on the part of the interviewer.
Contextual free-form answers should be encouraged to determine how each customer feels about your business and your offer. However, it can also be very difficult (or even impossible) to compile and analyze this kind of data. It’s therefore useful to create fixed metrics for customers’ responses – such as asking them to gauge their satisfaction on a scale of 1 to 10. Or perhaps determine the extent to which an issue is a priority for them – not at all, low, medium, high, very high etc. This will assist with the aggregation and analysis of the data you collect.
Conducting win/loss analysis once every year or so won’t tell you a great deal about your business. By the time your next interviews are carried out, you’ve already lost the opportunity to act on the prior project’s findings. Instead, it’s a good idea to conduct post-decision interviews on a quarterly basis at least. Compare and contrast each project’s findings with the last, taking every opportunity to act on your findings the moment they’re gathered.
As far as your customers are concerned, the thoughts and opinions they share are 100% factual. Hence, they’re the only thoughts and opinions you should be listening to. Irrespective of how the information you gather mar contradict your deepest-set thoughts and beliefs, this is the information you need to trust. However objective you think you are, nobody can provide more honest and objective insights than your customers themselves. Trust their opinions, consider their suggestions and act upon their feedback.
Above all else, you need to get out of the habit of viewing post-decision interviews as an optional extra. Win/loss analysis should be considered mandatory – a key strategy that forms the core of your on-going sales, marketing, and customer satisfaction strategy.
From a digital marketer’s perspective, I personally believe there is a no richer or more valuable source of data than that obtained through strategic win/loss analysis. Whether you succeed or fail, your customers can provide all the information you’ll need to move on with even greater strength and confidence.
Your digital marketing goal may be to enhance your brand’s image, boost your reputation, generate leads, enhance conversion rates, appeal to a new/wider market or any number of combined objectives. Across the board, you can only hope to succeed if you know exactly what’s working and what isn’t from the perspective of your customers. Which digital channels do they prefer? What would they change about the UX or customer journey? What’s their preferred customer support channel? Is your current digital marketing mix working?
Otherwise, you could be basing your decisions on incomplete and potentially flawed information, along with your own non-objective insights. A digital marketing strategy based on factual evidence and honest customer opinions will always perform better than a campaign built around assumptions.
Most businesses have the means and the resources necessary to conduct detailed win/loss analysis. More importantly, going directly to your customers for advice and insights simply makes sense.
Nevertheless, evidence suggests comparatively few show any real priority to post-decision interviews. Which is unfortunate, given their potential to produce invaluable data for near-limitless business-wide benefits.
Irrespective of the time and effort the project may entail, the results can and will justify your investment. It’s simply a case of adopting a carefully structured approach, in accordance with the practices and general guidelines outlined above.
Author: Dennis Dubner, CEO of SONDORA SA