Today’s fashion brands, whether well-established or just arriving onto the scene, frequently share similar concerns. A recent survey of fashion executives found they are struggling to keep up with technology while dealing with tighter budgets and shrinking retail sales. Here, we explore fashion brands’ biggest challenges.
Data & Technology
Marketers have access to increasing amounts of data, but understanding how to interpret it and use the information to inform marketing strategy eludes many. Almost a third of those polled said they weren’t using data enough to track the consumer journey, increase engagement, or more effectively target customers.
“One of the bigger challenges facing fashion brands today is that in-store retail shopping is suffering and Amazon is stepping up its game,” explains John LaPierre, Women’s Marketing’s SVP of Analytics & Digital Operations. “From a measurement/data/analytics perspective, more and more fashion brands will look to improve their visibility into their most profitable customers through a cogent identity resolution strategy. This cross device approach takes time, but can provide critical insight into both short-term campaign ROAS and attribution as well as longer-term customer life cycle management efforts,” says LaPierre. “The key for these brands will be to clearly understand your customers and use cases that will dictate your plans in this area.”
Snapchat may be the fastest-growing social media platform, but it’s also the most difficult for brands to master. Almost a quarter of those surveyed said that “standing out on Snapchat” was an issue for them or they simply “weren’t ready for Snapchat.” On this channel, content reigns supreme and brands must be willing to invest both time and resources into posting snap-worthy content at least 3 times per week.
Jenna Manula, Director, Social Marketing at Women’s Marketing division Flying Point Digital, says that developing a presence on Snapchat requires a significant commitment. “On average, a dedicated team of 4-7 creators is needed to properly run a Snapchat channel and the content it publishes must be unique, branded, engaging, and native to the platform,” says Manula. “Posting subpar content just for the sake of being on Snapchat will damage your brand’s credibility. Every snap should tell a specific story to convey a message to your audience in a way no other social channel can,” she continues. While Snapchat is an exciting and growing platform, Manula recommends weighing the opportunity costs between creating a Snapchat account and investing more heavily in top-performing social channels such as Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.
The Influencer Dilemma
If you’re asking yourself whether influencers are worth the money, you’re not alone. Almost a quarter (22%) of respondents said they are challenged when it comes to understanding how to target the right influencers for their brand, measure their return on investment, and wondering how long influencers will reign.
Although most marketers have some type of influencer program in place, Kathryn Pleines, Director, Social Strategy at Women’s Marketing, says brands won’t see measurable results unless they develop clear objectives and priorities before launching their campaign. “With these in place, it becomes possible to understand what success looks like; for example, do you want to increase reach and awareness of a particular brand/product/event by leveraging celebrity and premium paid influencers or do you simply need to curate beautiful, authentic photography or video to re-use on owned channels? With set goals in place, it becomes less daunting to target the right influencers and understand their value given the budget and needs,” explains Pleines.
Although some speculate that influencer marketing is a fad and wonder when the “influencer bubble” will burst, Pleines believes influencers have found a niche in the fashion and beauty industries. “There have always been ‘influencers’ in the world of fashion—magazine editors were once the only influencers, but social media has opened the doors for a new generation of tastemakers,” Pleines explains. “The way fashion brands work with influencers (payment standardization, expectations, measurement) and the number of paid influencers in the social space will likely evolve, but the fashion influencer is here to stay.”
Among luxury companies, the pervasive belief was that their shoppers would always opt for the tactile and personalized experience that brick-and-mortar stores offer. But as consumers are increasingly researching and shopping for luxury products online, many fashion brands are playing catch-up when it comes to evolving their digital strategy. Among the respondents, 14% say they are still struggling to find an audience and experiencing challenges when working within their own digital integration silos.
Elissa Brown, Media Director & Digital Innovation Specialist, says it will be critical for brands to understand the holistic consumer journey. “Consumers want an experience, value and excitement to purchase,” she explains. “Brands should be open to fluid, test-and-learn strategies when it comes to consumer outreach. That starts with better insights, research, and collaboration with their agency partners on their historical, current, and new potential consumers. Collaboration, transparency, and,ultimately, expectations of measurement will be key to developing successful digital initiatives across all channels, and how that ties into larger marketing objectives of the brand,” Brown continues. “Knowing consumer consumption habits, being open to digital innovation, and trusting the experts in digital space will move fashion brands forward.”
The always-on consumer has completely disrupted the industry’s long-established business model. Fashion shows are now consumer-facing see-now-shop-now affairs, fast-fashion has forced brands to speed up their production cycles, and digital has completely changed the path-to-purchase —this has 18% of fashion marketers wondering what the future of retail will look like.
Some emerging brands have even bypassed retail altogether, opting for a direct-to-consumer model, and Amazon’s aggressive investment in fashion is making marketers question the role the e-tailer will play in the industry. The Women’s Marketing perspective: “We’re excited to see how retailers innovate and create environments that attract experience-not-acquisition driven younger consumers. We’re especially excited to see evidence that the mall is not dead yet! Instead, U.S. malls are undergoing a huge transformation. Understanding how a woman shops each channel, and why, whether it’s Nordstrom, Target, or subscribing to a fashion box, is crucial. Social in particular can play a strong role in connecting her with a specific channel,” explains Marlea Clark, EVP, Marketing & Insights.
Women’s Marketing offers fashion brands strategies that offer solutions to these and other marketing concerns. Contact us to learn how our digital analytics team, social and influencer marketing specialists, and data-driven insights into retail can help your brand grow and thrive.