Social Shopping

Imagine scrolling through your Facebook homepage and coming across a photo posted by one of your favorite clothing brands. You click through to the site to see more pictures of the dress the model is wearing – imagining what you would look like in it. You then scroll down and start seeing sizing and other customer reviews. You may decide not to buy it or make a note to come back to it later, but as you go back on your Facebook feed, more customer reviews or friends who also “like” that brand start to pop up. This explains the phenomenon of social shopping.
Though it is not yet possible to buy products directly through a brand’s social media page, consumers are inspired through their posts to buy their products. Aimia, an analytics company, reported that 56% of consumers who follow brands on social media sites do so to view their products, in lieu of catalogues.In a world where people want instant feedback, brands must stay on top of their social media pages to promote their latest products and promotions.

Facebook is the lead social commerce platform credited with 50% of total social referrals and 64% total social revenue. The advantage brands have with Facebook is its older demographic, making it easier for older generations to engage in online shopping whereas millenials are more savvy to it. Facebook has been a pioneer in the social shopping trend with their “buy” buttons and marketplace feature, where users can “discover, buy and sell items with people in your community.” 

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Facebook relaunched its Marketplace feature in fall 2016, with one of its main goals being to surpass Cragislist as the largest peer-to-peer selling platform.

Jan-Pieter Lips, president of international coalitions at Aimia said, “Social commerce offers a real opportunity for retailers to shorten the path to purchase for customers.” Consumers find reviews very valuable, making them consider if an item is worth their purchase. A study done by Pricewaterhouse Coopers found that nearly half (45%) of digital buyers worldwide said that reading reviews, comments and feedback on social media influenced their digital shopping behavior. Aside from customer reviews on the brand’s website, simply clicking on a hashtag on Instagram with a products name can bring the user to a page with thousands of posts reviewing an item. Marketing teams must use these features to their advantage to stimulate sales.
Though serving as a place for inspiration, brands aren’t generating as much direct sales through social media as you would think. However, as “buy” buttons begin to fill Pinterest and Instagram feeds, they will allow immediate buying opportunities.As seen through Facebook, the algorithm they have created causes users to be constantly exposed to their products pressured to buy. As such features develop, it will be interesting to see the reaction of users as the platforms move away from social networking and more toward social commerce.

InstaSales

Scrolling through my Instagram feed, between all my friends’ posts, I see Topshop posting a slew of images of their new denim collection, Kylie Jenner posing in a mirror selfie using a Fit Tea body detox wrap and Arielle Charnas of Something Navy posting an Instagram Live story of the latest pieces she has received from Bandier.

Once marketing was limited to advertising on print and television, and now it is infiltrating our social media feeds. The nature of advertising is changing as once brands were once paying thousands of dollars for a two-page spread in the latest Vogue or hoping their design is noticed on the red carpet, now an entire collection can be posted to the brand’s Instagram profile or a celebrity or blogger can be paid to incorporate the brand into their everyday posts. Mike Heller, CEO and founder of Talent Resources, reaffirms that based off a data analysis of Instagram feedback, “It doesn’t make sense to do a traditional advertisement anymore.”

Marketing teams are smart to capitalize on social media, particularly Instagram, due to the “constant and inexpensive interaction” with consumers. Instagram allows for a one-on-one connection despite being a method of mass communication because it allows for response and conversation. E-commerce is responsible for creating a visual portfolio and establishing brand awareness. As the fashion industry, designing in particular, has become more and more consumer driven, this type of engagement is key. Brands are rewarded with instant feedback by simplifying scrolling through the comments section and seeing reactions, rather than waiting to see a sales report.

Brand identity is much more than the designs. To have a successful marketing campaign, the company must also promote a certain lifestyle of their ideal customer. For example, if a brand is trying to relate to millennials, they might feature a well-known figure eating a piece of pizza while wearing their design. Free People shows their bohemian vibe by posting quotes and imagery that go along with their brand.

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A recent post on Free People’s Instagram page that embodies their “vibe”

Marketing campaigns are also changing in the fact that instead of picking brand ambassadors based on who best fits the collection, they are looking at candidates that have a strong social media influence. A celebrity with a large following that posts an endorsement that is not an obvious paid-for ad is likely to have a strong influence over their followers because of the trust and bond the celebrity has established with them.

Jo Piazza, author of Celebrity Inc., puts this idea in perspective by sharing this example:

“You are following someone and it’s like you are friends with them. Would you go see your friend’s movie? Of course you would go see your friend’s movie! It’s just another step removed from reading about someone in a magazine. It’s like you actually know this person because you just saw of a picture of what they ate for breakfast.”

The #MyCalvins campaign was conducted in an intimate way with simple photography. When Justin Bieber posted a casual photo with his Calvin Klein underwear peeking over his baggy jeans, the brand gained 3.6 million followers across its social media platforms, and Bieber wasn’t even paid to do the post. Hashtags are particularly important for enagament and interaction, and allows brands to have an organized system of feedback.

How much of these posts are authentic? The art of the game has become so good that it is sometimes hard to differentiate when a public figure is promoting something they genuinely use in their everyday lives versus someone who is promoting for the paycheck. I have a lot of respect for celebrities, particularly fashion bloggers, who turn down offers based on whether or not the product fits their personal brand. Danielle Bernstein of WeWoreWhat, for example, talked about how she is very selective when posting products that are sent to her. She showed how she stayed true to her brand when she was sent a bag that didn’t exactly embody her style, so she wrote back to the designer,”I love this bag, but do you have it in black?”

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Bernstein promoting products she uses through her everyday Instagram posts. Photo Credit: Harper’s Bazaar.

Though proving to be a successful and convenient tool, marketing teams and public figures must be careful that they do not corrupt the platform for sales. Celebrities can quickly lose the trust and following of the public if they stop appearing authentic. Brands must also be careful that they choose the right people to represent their brand, because one slip-up on a unrelated post on the part of their ambassador, and the brand could be facing a PR nightmare. All-in-all, the use of Instagram to drive sales is reinforcing the changing nature of the fashion industry as “instant” and “consumer-driven.”

See Now, Wear Now

Once upon a time, in the magical land of Fashion Week, those who scored a front row seat could be seen waiting with notepads ready to write reviews and posing for the camera, to be featured in Women’s Wear Daily. Now, smartphones have replaced those notepads and cameras, with attendees snapping their favorite looks and selfies with fellow A-listers.

Thanks to a change in the way brands, editors, bloggers, and socialites make use of their social media, one doesn’t even need a ticket to experience a Fashion Week show. Nowadays, being “fashion forward” not only means keeping up with clothing trends, but also keeping up with technological evolutions.

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Sometimes it’s hard to see the face behind the iPhone screen sitting in the front row of the runway show. Photo Credit.

As designers create a collection that is largely consumer-driven, the presentation of said-collections must align with that mindset.  Wes Gordon went literally all in when incorporating digital media into his Fall 2016 show by having people view the collection via Instagram installments. Gordon felt this way of storytelling was refreshing and the best method of presentation for his collection. 

The structure of fashion is changing, as digital media allows clients to instantly buy a design on the runway, instead of the traditional method of setting up personal shopping appointments. The first season of the Tommy x Gigi collection was described as a “digital fairground” as show goers could purchase looks on digital shopping whiles, while at the same time other consumers could purchase on the collection’s website. Tom Ford also made his collection immediately shoppable with the philosophy that, “In a world that has become increasingly immediate, the current way of showing a collection, four months before it is available to customers, is an antiquated idea and one that no longer makes sense.”

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“With Instagram, we gave 4 million people instead of 40 the opportunity to sit front row,” Gordon said. Photo Credit

Brand websites and social media platforms aren’t the sole places broadcasting these shows and collections – attendees are taking to their Instagram Live and Snapchat Stories to give access to all. As mentioned in my previous blogpost, editors are becoming increasingly frustrated with bloggers, as they are posting looks from the collection immediately, making it less likely that the same person will read an article covering the story a few hours after the show.

There is even a new phenomenon called “Digital Fashion Week”that fully embodies the changes that are redefining fashion weeks all around the world. These “runways,” incorporated in Singapore Fashion Week, use technologies such as live streaming and feeding and 360 virtual reality to bring coverage from all aspects of fashion week. This fresh perspective not only covers the show, but also rehearsals and backstage broadcasts. Though predominantly practiced in Asian countries, Digital Fashion Week’s marketing techniques and strategies are spreading to the Western Hemisphere.

Social media and technology have caused a shortened attention span and have created a sense of immediacy that has trickled into the fashion industry, and is revolutionizing the four glamorous weeks that celebrate fashion. With this trend becoming dominant, I would say the catwalk shows are endangered as simple presentations, either completely digital or with digital components, are becoming the norm.

Fashion’s Emerging Leaders: Bloggers

It’s “like going to a strip club looking for romance. Sure, it’s all kind of in the same ballpark, but it’s not even close to the real thing” said Alessandra Codinha, vouge.com fashion editor, when asked about bloggers’ personal styles.  

Many other fashion editors have shared similar statements, as they call “war” on bloggers. Are the queen bees of print getting nervous of a digital takeover of their kingdoms?

Let’s take a look at how bloggers have become leading influencers and revolutionaries of the fashion industry…
Many girls, myself included, have dreamed about holding a career in the fashion industry, especially after growing up watching movies and TV shows such as The Hills and The Devil Wears Prada. The glamorous life of attending fashion weeks, jet setting to fabulous locations for photoshoots, and being surrounded by the season’s latest designs once seemed unattainable unless you were an editor of a leading publication; however, digital media has changed that conception with the emergence of blogging. As the use of digital media has evolved, fashion bloggers have become some of the most influential people in the industry.

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Much blogging is done from one’s home, rather than a traditional office. This allows mobility to meet with different designers and magazines.

Personal blogs have many appealing features, such as easy publication and digital photography, that make it palpable for anyone to share their personal style without being the Editor-in-Chief of Vogue or upheaving their life to New York City.  There are so many websites, such as this one that I am publishing on, that allow for free creation of personal websites with easy editing features. One thing that makes blogging a successful platform is the creation of and vehicle for communication. Bloggers have the opportunity to not only establish relationships with brands and with their readers, but also establish a direct connection between the brands and the readers. Different social media mediums also allow for these conversations to continue and spread beyond the confines of the blog’s URL. “Bloglovin” especially has become a popular site that allows bloggers and the general public to interact with and follow their choice of blogs all in one place.

Now if you are thinking “Wow this sounds so easy. I’m going to be the next Chiara Ferragni!” – I’m sorry to burst your bubble, but it is not that simple. If you are looking to simply share your personal style and network with a small community of people who share the same style, you can do so with minimal work. If you are looking to be on first name basis with Karl Lagerfeld and be the face of brands such as L’Oreal, a great deal of time, money, effort, and even some setbacks, must come first. The first step is getting readers to connect with your “personal brand” through gaining a large following and holding influence over their buying decisions.

Why are brands choosing these ordinary people behind screens to be the face of their products? Successful bloggers bring in a large readership and following, mainly through Instagram accounts. In recent years, many brands have been labeled as going through an “identity crisis” and have turned to bloggers as their solution. The thought process behind brands collaborating with bloggers, according to Tomaso Trussardi, is that the blogger is “telling the brand’s story in a manner which is relevant to our audience – or to reach a new audience.” To brands, these people are more relatable than celebrities and are a “younger and fresher” way to communicate rather than corporate advertising which can seem dull. Blogging is unique in the sense that the blogger, at least authentic ones, will choose whether the collaborations are something that go along with his or her personal brand, despite the pay that might come with the job. (Danielle Bernstein of We Wore What reported making between $5,000 and $15,000 per Instagram post).

So how is the fashion industry changing through bloggers? Brands are reporting that their sales have been going up through Instagram engagement. Photographers are waiting outside Fashion Week shows to snap the perfect street style shots of bloggers, while letting editors pass by. Brands are allowing greater expenditure in their marketing budgets for blogs and less for editorial advertising. Consumers are looking to Instagram to see the latest trends, rather than picking up the latest edition of Marie Claire. Bloggers, such as Aimee Song, are becoming the most coveted career. Move over, Anna Wintour.

Will this last? Many people are skeptical about how long the craze of fashion blogging will last, but with the invention of new technologies and social media platforms, the career will only continue to grow. I personally think the newest trend will involve video blogging on platforms such as YouTube and Snapchat.
For more information on the emergence of fashion blogging and how to start your own, check out this episode in Alexa Chung’s series The Future of Fashion.