business Editor's pick sustainability

We should all take a leaf out of Stockholm Fashion Week’s book

Stockholm Fashion Week‘s decision to cancel this year’s event to focus instead on a more innovative and sustainable alternative, gives the entire industry something to think about.

Due to take place in August, the occasion has been pulled for the foreseeable future as a way of addressing the “major challenges” the industry is facing.  The very role of fashion week is one of those factors, as is how to move towards a more sustainable future.

If we break that down for a moment, there are some key considerations to think about:

Firstly, fashion weeks have undeniably changed at the hands of the digital age. Over the past 10 years they’ve become democratized to the extent that we can question the need for a physical show at all. 

Consumers around the world are now able to see collections in real-time as they‘re revealed, not to mention experience them across all other channels thereafter. On top of that, designers are able to gain awareness in a myriad of other ways for the very same reasons.

The result of this has been heavy debate around moving to a see-now buy-now business model, meaning the show becomes primarily a marketing opportunity aligned with a calendar for real-time consumer purchases as opposed to for industry buyers. This means the trading part of the collection is already done in advance for wholesale.

Alongside this at the same time, mind you, is the broader industry shift we’re witnessing towards a direct-to-consumer model, which negates the need for the third party seller at all. When integrated with innovative manufacturing processes, this can further ensure greater alignment between supply and demand, thus reducing waste.

What that also considers related to fashion weeks under the sustainability header, is a reduction in air miles. As designer Katherine Hamnett said this year at the Copenhagen Fashion Summit, an annual event dedicated to sustainability: “We shouldn’t even be reunited here in Copenhagen when we could have done this digitally. We should all be ashamed of our carbon footprint.”

Under the United Nations’ Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action, is a goal for the industry to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, something that is a long way off at this point in time. While the bigger challenges lie in everything from raw materials to fulfilment, every little shift – including fewer individual flights – helps.

On top of that is the cost savings that removing fashion week brings. Shows can notoriously cost anywhere in the region of $100,000 for a designer, dependent on all manner of variables. Cutting the need for Swedish brands to spend this sort of budget frees up capital for other endeavors, which the Swedish Fashion Council, which runs Stockholm Fashion Week, is seemingly pushing primarily towards sustainability.

In a press release, CEO Jennie Rosén said part of the aim is to support designers towards their sustainability targets and help them adopt new business models such as rental, repairs and subscription services.

It’s worth noting that Sweden as a country is already at the forefront of implementing tangible change aligned with these goals, for instance by reducing VAT rates on repair services by 50% (from 25% to 12%) in 2017. The move was part of the country’s plans to reduce carbon emissions and encourage more people to participate in the sharing economy. The tax breaks apply to shoes, clothes and bicycles, making repairing each of them all the more affordable. 

Much of the commentary compares this fashion week with its larger counterpart in Copenhagen, suggesting competition as a primary reason to cancel the event. But rerouting budget towards circularity, reducing carbon footprint and moving towards more innovative means of marketing and selling in order to capture higher margins and reduce waste, ultimately seems one of the smartest moves we’ve seen in a while for an industry in such desperate need of change.

“We need to change now to steer the industry in the right direction…We need to put the past to rest and to stimulate the development of a platform that is relevant for today’s fashion industry,” Rosen noted. “The Swedish fashion industry is extensive and growing, so it is crucial to support brands in their development of next-generation fashion experiences. By doing this we can adapt to new demands, reach sustainability goals and be able to set new standards for fashion.”

The council is planning to reveal its new strategy later this year. 

How are you thinking about sustainability, innovation and new business approaches? The Current Global is a transformation consultancy driving growth within fashion, luxury and retail. Our mission is to solve challenges and facilitate change. We are thinkers and builders delivering innovative solutions and experiences. Get in touch to learn more. 

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4 findings on the digital habits of Chinese consumers that luxury brands need to know

Domestic luxury e-commerce website - chinese consumers
Domestic luxury e-commerce website

Chinese consumers are ready to buy everything online. That and a few other key findings came to light in a recent report entitled “Digital Lifestyles in China” by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA). The report offers insights and data about the online behaviors of consumers culled from a survey of over 3,000 smartphone users from mainland China.

First released during the association’s annual CES Asia Conference, in Shanghai, China from June 7-9, the report can help luxury brands better understand content consumption as well as the personal networking and buying behaviours of their targeted consumers.

Here are four takeaways for luxury brands operating in China:

1. Social media in China remains more personal than professional

Chinese consumers use social media more to explore and maintain their personal relationships than to further professional development. The data suggests that over 60 percent of those surveyed contact and engage with their friends and families, while only 28 percent of them use it for professional purposes.

“It’s possible that creating reliable firewalls between their personal and professional social networking could help the majority of Chinese express their individuality while still maintaining a professional persona,” Steve Koenig, the senior director of market research at CTA, said in a statement.

2. Chinese consumers are ready to purchase everything online

It is a cliché to elaborate on the importance of online shopping in China, but it is still a surprise to learn that Chinese consumers think “there are very few products they cannot, or will not purchase online”. The data from the report shows that nearly half of the surveyed users have purchased everything they need and want online, meaning that shopping online has become a necessary part of the modern world for them.

In the past, China’s e-commerce sites such as Tmall recruited a number of luxury automakers including Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi to launch digital stores with them. Therefore, luxury brands in China should not be afraid of making the full use of their imagination to creatively think about how they can cater to Chinese consumers digitally.

3. Chinese consumers favour shopping on smartphones

Following up on the previous finding, CTA reveals that smartphones are the main digital device that Chinese consumers use when shopping online due to its convenience and accessibility. Therefore, it is not surprising to find that the surveyed consumers have made almost 90 percent of their past purchases on their smartphones. Compare that to just 33 percent of purchases made on a tablet. Also, half of respondents said that they used a store’s own app to place the order.

The finding confirms the importance for luxury brands to invest in digital channels to maximise its potential for sales. Launching on a major online shopping platform is an absolute must for luxury brands, but they also should improve the functionality of their own apps to make them more localised, user-friendly and accessible to Chinese people.

4. WeChat is where meaningful interaction happens

Even though there is a strong resurgence in the number of active users on Sina Weibo thanks to the recent introduction of video-related content, the platform still lacks the scale and capacity to generate meaningful interaction between luxury brands and their followers when compared to WeChat.

On WeChat, CTA found that almost 90 percent of users they asked check the app multiple times per day, which was twice that of Weibo users, which was 44 percent.

By Yiling Pan @SiennaPan

This article was originally published on Jing Daily, a Fashion & Mash content partner.

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Comment counts: Why we need to protect influencer autonomy

Brands partnering with influencers must ensure to respect their individual voices to guarantee the exchange of natural, relatable and engaging messages says Georgina Rutherford of IMA (Influencer Marketing Agency).

influencer marketing
One of influencer Marta Riumbau’s posts for the #myhavaianassummer campaign

They started out as bloggers; new-age authors dedicated to growing devoted fanbases through their outward-facing publishing platforms marked as favourites in our internet browsers. Then with the rapid rise of social media, they transformed into digital influencers; a tribe of thought leaders with the power to engage interested audiences on a big scale.

What makes this tribe so remarkable? Influencers are a class of their own, a species that continues to evolve. They transform and adapt according to the consumer and that’s why nobody wants to miss out.

Everyone from broadcasting networks to big-name brands want a piece of the action. Influencer-brand collaborations take many forms, and industry players are continually looking to work out how they can claim such individuals as their own.

It’s time to take a step back and leave the power where it belongs: with the influencer.

Why? The beauty of influencer marketing lies in the fact it is online word-of-mouth. People influence people. A Nielsen study confirms that 84% of consumers say recommendations from friends and family are the most influential and trustworthy source.

Influencers have worked hard to earn their followers’ trust so they can be considered as important as friends or family members. It seems the industry forgets this when they expect to be able to acquire influencer power as part of their own brand image.


Good ??? Morning ??? Brasil #myhavaianassummer

A photo posted by Marta Riumbau (@riumbaumarta) on

Take NBC, for example. With the aim of inspiring millennials to tune in to the Olympic Games, the television network enlisted German YouTuber Flula Borg to feature in a series of videos starring US Olympic athletes. The content was to be shared across NBC Olympics’ owned social channels including Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram.

To enlist a popular content creator to connect with this particular target audience is a great idea. Perfect, in fact. However, if the content were to be shared on the influencer’s own social channels, where he has an intimate connection with his following, then they would have utilised the power of the collaboration to much better effect.

What NBC is doing is not ‘wrong’, but is would be advantageous for a brand to capitalise on the direct relationship between an influencer and their following. Without this connection, the influencer loses their most important weapon: authenticity.

Authenticity is the key ingredient to successful influencer marketing. Consumers are now savvy enough to sense dishonest online marketing, so influencers who are true to themselves appeal to an audience who seek a relationship built on trust and credibility.

It also plays a big role in ensuring that brands do not get lost in the noise of the influencer world. Many opt for short-term paid partnerships rather than manifesting long-term relationships with influencers who truly fit their brand, but the reality is that influencer marketing is built on real relationships and honesty. Finding influencers who know and are dedicated to their audiences is the solution to appealing to consumers in the most genuine way.

So why is it that brands seem to overlook the importance of this bond between an influencer and their audience, sharing collaborative content on their owned channels instead? To build their owned audiences. But things have changed and brands have to remember that consumers would rather listen to other consumers. The top ranked accounts on social channels by subscribers are testament to this – there are hardly any brands to be seen. This shift is what Douglas Holt calls “crowdculture” in the Harvard Business Review.

Social media allows individuals to become powerful cultural innovators, creating better content than brands ever could and pushing them out of the picture. For this reason, brands are better off letting the influencers do the talking instead of pushing branded content through their own channels.


Havaianas did this really well with its recent initiative aimed at introducing the iconic brand to a younger teenage audience (as pictured here). A number of European vloggers joined the brand on a trip to Brazil where they immersed themselves in the country’s cultural heritage. Each influencer shared their experience through video content unique to their individual styles with no e-commerce links, minimal product push and the simple hashtag accompaniment: #myhavaianassummer.

By keeping the ball in the influencers’ courts, allowing them the freedom to share original content through their own voices, Havaianas got the most out of influencer marketing. The brand was provided with a diverse range of exciting content that directly targeted a large percentage of its target audience. Furthermore, it also secured a set of strong ambassadors that can grow and develop with the brand.

The industry does not need any more cookie cutter brand-spokespeople or new-era media icons. It needs more content creators. More passion. More dynamism. More individuality. Because let’s face it, influencers still have the freedom to take an angle that most advertisers or journalists can’t.

It all comes back to the fact that people listen to other people, not brands. Brands have to accept that traditional branding models have been flipped on their head. They need to let go and allow influencers to take control, so that the message is conveyed in the best possible way and the influencer can preserve their own voice; the voice the audience connected to in the first place. Want to reach that audience? Trust the influencer.

Georgina Rutherford is marketing manager at IMA (Influencer Marketing Agency). Comment Counts is a series of opinion pieces from experts within the industry. Do you have something to say? Get in touch via

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Comment counts: Why minimising false positive declines is essential with millennial consumers

Retailers are damaging relationships with millennials above any other generation by wrongly rejecting too many of their purchases, writes Andy Freedman of fraud prevention platform Riskified.

mobile commerce fraud riskified
99% of orders placed by millennial consumers via mobile are legitimate (Image: Shutterstock)

Retailers are often too risk-averse when reviewing millennials’ e-commerce orders for fraud. Research by Javelin Strategy shows over 25% of millennial cardholders had a purchase wrongly rejected due to a merchant’s fear of fraud in 2014.

It’s important for retailers to realise this has serious consequences: a staggering 75% of millennials either reduced or entirely stopped their patronage of a merchant after being falsely declined. And this is a market that despite demographically representing only a quarter of the US population, accounts for over 35% of total retail spend. It’s currently estimated millennials are spending over $200bn per year – and that number is expected to double by 2020.

It’s hard to understate therefore the potential effects that being too conservative when approving millennials’ orders has for retailers. The average value of a purchase from a repeat millennial customer is 1.5x the value of their first purchase, making the loss of repeat business very costly in the short term. Over the long term, the cost of losing the lifetime value of three out of every four falsely declined millennials is very high. Considering that the oldest millennials are just turning 35 years old, every single false decline potentially translates into decades of lost revenues.


Mobile and social win

The good news is that understanding how millennials shop online can help retailers accept more of their orders. For starters, a generation raised with ubiquitous technology is very comfortable using it to shop. Millennials place 50% more of their orders via mobile devices compared to consumers of other generations, and 99% of orders placed by millennial consumers via mobile are legitimate. Further underscoring the comfort millennials’ exhibit with technology is the fact that omnichannel sales channels such as ‘buy online, pickup in store’ are increasingly important to them.

Retailers must also consider the fact that millennials are constantly connected to their network of friends via social media. This can be a blessing for retailers who offer an exceptional customer experience to millennial customers. Riskified’s data shows that millennials are 7x more likely to arrive at a retailer’s site via a Facebook referral compared to non-millennials. Moreover, purchases made by millennial customers that arrived at a retailer’s site via Facebook are nearly 30x less likely to be fraudulent that non-millennials who do the same.

However, this propensity for social interaction cuts both ways. Millennial consumers are also more likely to share a negative shopping experience on social networks, and to believe what they read. Research shows that millennials trust user generated content 50% more than media from other sources. Ultimately, that means that retailers who falsely decline millennial customers may quickly find themselves the target of withering criticism online, leading to negative word of mouth that can hurt both brand reputation and ultimately, sales revenues.


Combatting fraud

The best way to prevent fraud without turning away good customers in the process is to collect as much data as possible and strive to understand who the consumer is behind every purchase. Retailers can enrich the information provided by the customer during checkout with data from online directories, white pages, and social networks.

Analysing the customer’s on-site browsing behavior will provide another layer of valuable information. For example, fraudsters are not likely to read your returns policy or use a promo code during checkout, since they are not actually paying for the purchase. Rather than searching for risk indicators or mismatches between data points, best practice is to take into account all the available data and try to construct a potential “good shopping story” and “fraud attempt story”. Given the information at hand, which interpretation of the data makes more sense?

Ultimately, the key to effectively combatting e-commerce fraud is familiarity with the characteristics of both fraudulent and legitimate shopping behaviour. By paying attention to millennial consumers’ shopping patterns retailers can minimise false positive declines and ensure a smooth shopping experience that will keep millennials coming back – and telling their friends about it – for life.

Andy Freedman is the CMO of Riskified, a fraud-prevention platform that takes on the burden of e-commerce risk management; approving and guaranteeing transactions retailers typically reject. Comment Counts is a series of opinion pieces from experts within the industry. Do you have something to say? Get in touch via

Comment Editor's pick mobile technology

Comment counts: Retailers should look to Pokémon Go for location marketing inspiration

Retailers needn’t just jump on Pokémon Go as a sponsorship opportunity, but use it as a starting point to explore all the options around location-based marketing, writes xAd’s Theo Theodorou. 

Pokémon Go
Pokémon Go in-store at Sephora (Image via @BrandiiNycolee on Twitter)

It may have been a time of chokers, bomber jackets, double denim and all things grunge, but the 90s were also the decade that Pokémon was born. For millennials, Japan’s Pokémon was a huge part of growing up. Fast-forward 20 years, and just like those fashion trends, the game is back. Now instead of trading cards, fans are running around the world catching characters in the augmented reality game Pokémon Go.

Released officially on July 6, 2016, the game uses a player’s mobile GPS to show a virtual version of their world populated with Pokémon characters to catch. In less than a week, it reportedly became the number one downloaded app on the app store, gained as many users as Uber and Tinder, topped Twitter’s daily users, and started seeing people spend more time with it than in Facebook. It also caused Nintendo’s share price to increase by more than $7bn.

Aside from realising just how many consumers love games, what can fashion retailers learn from this newest internet craze; one that gamifies our location in the real world, in real-time?

Generation mobile-savvy

Pokémon Go has tapped into the demographic that grew up with its card trading format. Now mobile-savvy and tech obsessed, this generation are demonstrating an immense appetite for a fully online/offline immersed world.

Pokémon Go is essentially the latest poster child for the power of location. Just like all successful location-aware apps like Uber, Tinder and Just Eat, the game delivers a valuable, fully merged experience, and retailers want in on the engagement this connected approach is creating.

Pokémon Go retail
Retailers have jumped on the Pokémon Go phenomenon, even in jest (Image via @Gobobbo on Twitter)

A huge 89% of all retail sales are still happening in brick and mortar stores, yet the world is simultaneously becoming increasingly mobile-first. As a result, it is imperative that retailers link the two worlds. As consumers are influenced by more than one channel now, it is crucial that brands understand how online advertising influences their consumers’ real world actions and vice versa.

Where we go, says a lot about who we are. Just like a player’s location tells us about what character they are looking to catch, location insights allows brands to understand a person’s context and proximity to points of interest, which then influence their experiences and actions in the real world.

Compared to search and social, location speaks the truth about our intentions. Just because I searched for a John Lewis voucher as a present for my niece’s birthday, doesn’t mean that I am the perfect target for future online advertising from them, for instance. However, actions speak louder than words and if, through location-based technology, John Lewis were to know I visited multiple stores on different occasions, it’s far more likely I am a worthwhile consumer to target with personalised advertising.

The power of location

While it’s exciting that Pokémon Go has brought the power of location and its abilities to the forefront by giving them a tangible and obvious consumer use, it is critical that retailers think about the type of relationships they want to build with customers. With brands now interested in investing in ‘lures’ by placing a character outside (or inside) their stores, many are recognising the potential location-technology has in driving store visitations.

However, retailers shouldn’t just jump on Pokémon Go, but explore all the options around location and what it has to offer. The pertinent question to ask is would retailers rather use a bribe essentially unassociated to the brand to get people there, or use location intelligence based on real-world behaviours to meet their needs better? With its ability to drive the right customer to a store, at the right time, brands can use location technology to drive engagement and build long lasting, loyal relationships instead of just visitors who want to ‘Catch em all’.

While the technical ability to map locations has existed for several years its accuracy has significantly improved. Now, through Blueprints technology like xAd’s, brands know whether a person is inside a store or just walking down a street – knowledge that is the difference between delivering messages of value or something of irritation to a potential customer. This level of precision means that brands can be sure impressions are meaningful and made on the right audience.

Ultimately, retailers want to drive revenue by enticing customers into their store to buy their products or services. Location technology enables brands to do this by providing intelligence about a customer based on where they go. This means the retailer can then personalise and enhance the customer experience. In a mobile-first world, where we start our path to purchase journey online and complete in the physical world, it is critical that brands grab the opportunity to join the dots between these two worlds.

Theo Theodorou is the MD of EMEA at location-based mobile advertising technology company, xAd. Comment Counts is a series of opinion pieces from experts within the industry. Do you have something to say? Get in touch via

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Digital snippets: YNAP’s 2020 growth plans, synthetic spider silk, LVMH’s start-ups

Digital snippets - YNAP
Yoox Net-a-Porter Group

We’re back with another round-up of everything you might have missed in fashion, digital comms and technology news over the past week or so. Top of the agenda is an in-depth insight from Yoox Net-a-Porter Group on how it plans to outpace the online luxury market through 2020, while there’s also highlights from LVMH’s start-up showcase in Paris, the role synthetic spider silk might play in the future, not to mention various views from the latest Snapchat campaigns…

  • How Yoox Net-a-Porter Group plans to outpace the online luxury market through 2020 [Fashionista]

  • Synthetic spider silk could be the biggest technological advance in clothing since nylon [QZ]

  • LVMH is looking for start-ups to bring personalisation to its brands [Glossy]

  • Snapchat takes turn at couture [WWD]

  • Early reads on Snapchat lenses show success for Urban Decay and Benefit [WWD]

  • Kate Moss leads line-up of stars in new Calvin Klein campaign [The Industry]

  • Shiseido ups digital game with ‘Rouge Rouge Kiss Me’ [WWD]

  • Meet MikMak, the mobile shopping network that sells via video [WSJ]

  • Beauty and the bot: Artificial intelligence is the key to personalising aesthetic products [The Globe and Mail]

  • How software is reshaping fashion’s back end [BoF]

  • Pinterest for fashion brands: ‘It’s not there yet’ [Glossy]

  • Can new technologies thwart counterfeiters? [BoF]

  • Blippar sets ‘early 2017’ date to hit mass awareness as it tunes ad business for visual search [The Drum]
business Comment data Editor's pick

5 lessons on brand creativity from Uniqlo’s John C Jay

uniqlo john c jay
John C Jay, president of brand creative for Fast Retailing

It’s relatively unique to be the former global executive creative director of an advertising agency (Wieden + Kennedy), turned president of brand creative for a major global retail group (Fast Retailing, owner of Uniqlo) – but that’s exactly what gives John C Jay, who also previously worked at Bloomingdale’s, such distinctive insight.

Speaking at the Cannes Lions International of Festivity last week, he shared some of his learnings on modern day communications in the fashion and retail space. Connecting to culture, choreographing physical spaces, launching collaborations, looking boldly to a future using data and technology, and underpinning it all with authenticity, were all referenced.

“Brands need to be worthy. We’re so busy today; there’s so much noise that no brand is going to be a part of your life if it’s not worthwhile,” was one of his key messages. Read on for the rest…

On connecting ideas to culture

“I focus not on campaigns, but connections,” Jay said with relation to finding the relevancy in local culture, or indeed current day pop culture, for any given brand he’s worked on. He emphasised how important it is to really do this properly. “Agencies are notorious for skimming the surface of culture: taking picture research of a neighborhood, sharing that in a conference room and feeling like they’ve tapped into [it],” he explained to the largely advertising crowd. “You’ve got to put the effort in and really really get to know the culture.”

On narrative spaces

This view of culture also carried over to the physical spaces a retailer owns. Jay explained how Uniqlo is turning its stores into rich playgrounds for cultural exchanges. Its latest London store has two floors dedicated to bringing the creative culture of the British capital to customers, for instance. “Agencies need to be choreographers for brands in physical spaces,” he explained in a call for the industry not just to focus on creating impacts via communications, but becoming designers of narrative in the retail environment. “This philosophy – collaboration with local communities – is more and more a part of our strategy going forward,” he added.


On valuable collaborations

“With our collaborations, we don’t choose by fame or how many hits [the individual] has, or friends they have; it’s really about values. It has to be true to them and true to us. We have to agree on what the values are. A lot of people we choose are not the most famous brands in the world,” Jay explained. Uniqlo has recently worked with graffiti artist Kaws, for instance, launching a line of t-shirts that Jay referred to as “extraordinary in terms of sales”. It has also had two very successful collections with Christophe Lemaire, former artistic director of Hermès. That partnership felt so true, Jay said, that they were “finishing each other’s sentences”. Lemaire has recently been announced as the new artistic director of Uniqlo’s R+D centre in Paris and the new Uniqlo U line, as a result.

On a tech-enabled future

Jay put any retail tech naysayers to rest with a bold statement on the importance of data and technology looking ahead. “Get on the boat or you’re never going to be a part of the future,” he said. “Data [particularly] is another way to be creative – it’s another way of finding insight. We have to adjust our mindsets to accepting there’s no foe part to it.” The new Uniqlo R+D centres will be very much dealing with technology, he added. “We’ll be looking at the issue of how to bring the physical and virtual together into one storytelling space.” A campaign run by Uniqlo in Australia called UMood, was also referenced. This neural project saw consumers wear a headset that could read their brain activity and help them choose suitable t-shirts as a result.

On authenticity at scale

Underpinning all of these lessons came authenticity. It’s this, said Jay, that has to be at the heart of everything a brand is trying to do, particularly when looking to growth. “I would argue that authenticity is the only way to scale, because brands will change and evolve, but [with authenticity] values will stay the same. It takes a lot of effort, but you just have to enjoy it.”

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Bushy eyebrows and $50k per day on Facebook ads: How a small beauty brand blew up


If you’re female, aged anywhere between 25 and 60, and based in the UK or perhaps the US, it’s entirely likely you may have been targeted on Facebook by an eyebrow product called Wunderbrow of late.

If not there, perhaps you’ve read an online editorial about it, spotted it on the London Underground, seen it in various print magazines, or even watched it on television. You may additionally have noticed it popping to the top of the best-seller lists in its category on Amazon.

Riding the crest of a key beauty trend for prominent eyebrows (driven largely by celebrities like Cara Delevingne and her own bushy pair) this small, relatively unknown brand has been steadily and consistently maximising paid media in a bid to drive user acquisition for just over a year.

Head over to Forbes to read the full story about how a $50,000 per day Facebook spend, coupled with savvy native advertising, has helped it grow 30-fold as a business in just over a year.

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Farfetch on the impact of millennials as employees and as social media consumers


Andrew Robb, COO at online fashion marketplace Farfetch took to the Millennial 20/20 Summit stage in London yesterday to talk about the role of the millennial audience on both workplace culture and social media trends.

Here are six recaps of key things he said:

  • On company culture: “Farfetch doesn’t have a tech culture, as such, but certainly a ‘newer’ company culture. We fit into the mould of being more open… What makes us unique is that we’re in this space of fashion and technology merging, which is very specific, but also the fact we’re global. We started global. We had two companies in London and Portugal, boutiques in five countries and we were selling worldwide. If you look at the staff we have, we’re young and very international. In our London office, we have at least 30 nationalities.”

  • On employee attitudes: “We used to hear people complaining about millennials from a workforce standpoint, but… I actually think what they’re asking for makes sense. Why would it not be a good idea to have access to the CEO? Or to have them listen to your ideas? In general this generation is very demanding, but if we listen to them it’s about the fact they want challenges, and we’re very open to giving them challenges. If you give them autonomy to do something, give them ownership of something, they learn whether they’re actually ready for it.”


  • On Snapchat: “Millennials, on average, are using one extra social platform than older generations. Snapchat is the eighth most important for those over 35 years old, while for millennials it’s third [behind Instagram and Facebook]… Those younger say Snapchat is more important than Instagram. So we think it will increasingly become a really important channel for fashion consumers over time.”

  • On social commerce: “For a long time there’s been this idea in e-commerce that Facebook was going to become a dominant sales driver. It’s not. Social is an amazing brand engagement tool but it’s not been for driving sales. Instagram is going to change that. Millennials use Instagram for fashion inspiration and Facebook to connect with friends. It’s much easier to convert someone looking at fashion than it is chatting to friends. You’re just much closer to the customer need, at that time.”

  • On Instagram advertising: “What I’m also excited about with Instagram is the advertising. Their model will allow brands to spend very significant sums in positive ways to connect with that audience. It’s also very measurable and has much higher ROI because consumers are in the right frame of mind. The targeting is so strong, where on many other channels that is just not the case.”

  • On what’s up next: “Last year we opened six new websites and offices [including Japan, China and Russia]. We launched our ‘Store of the Future’ business, and Farfetch Black & White, which offers brands white labeled e-commerce solutions. And lastly we acquired iconic retailer Browns. The reason we wanted to do that was to really understand how consumers are interacting in this online and offline mix. We’re focusing on all these things heavily for the year ahead.”
e-commerce mobile social media technology

Brave new tech world: Shoppers want it all and soon

Rebecca Minkoff's in-store digital mirror
Rebecca Minkoff’s in-store digital mirror

We’ll all be using augmented reality (AR) and Bitcoin to buy products by 2020. Really? Well, that’s what some people in a 1,000-plus-person survey of UK consumers seem to think.

Not that the numbers were that huge but they were big enough to take note of. So, by 2020, 20% expect to see contactless digital payments extending from their current form to take in digital currencies like Bitcoin, 16% expect to be able to download products and 3D print them, 15% would like to use AR to try before they buy and 14% are hoping drone deliveries can get off the ground (pun intended).

So just who are these digital optimists? Infomentum’s new Beyond Digital, What’s Next for Businesses in 2020 report spoke to a sample of office workers – those permanently connected individuals collectively (and annoyingly) referred to as Generation C.

What the survey found is a quantifiable level of expectation that technology would continue to impact their work lives and their shopping lives in a relatively short time frame.

What it also found is that for the present, we’re all online a lot, we expect a good experience at the very least and if we don’t get it we’ll bitch endlessly on social media.

The report revealed that 83% of those Infomentum spoke to use smartphones to access the internet, 75% use laptops (but for less than five hours a day) and 65% use tablets. The dear old desktop computer doesn’t even seem to get a look-in.

Of course, what those figures don’t tell us is the kind of browsing they’re doing. But while the chances a lot of smartphone browsing sessions are as much about on-the-spot research as serious buying, the fact that this research was done largely to look at people’s working lives shows just how far the smartphone has come. The fact is, a lot of people are using their phones for business-related browsing too.

Retail dilemmas

When we’re researching online, we’re often looking not at retailer sites but at free content sites and that’s where retailers often try to reach potential customers with banner ads. But one thing we don’t want to see when we’re browsing content is… yes, you guessed it, banner ads. The number objecting to such ads is increasing and now stands at 62%.

The report also offered up are some scary (and enlightening) figures for those retailers not getting the online experience right:

  • 77% of people would leave a website immediately if they struggle to access it
  • 89% will talk about negative experiences on social media, although 96% would share positive experiences
  • 55% don’t bother speaking to customer service staff if they have problems
  • 76% say clear navigation is a key web feature
  • 60% are impressed by overall speed and loading times (so anyone with very ‘heavy’ pages should be thinking twice there)
  • 51% are impressed by effective search functionality

This post first appeared on, a style-meets-business blog by journalist, trends specialist and business analyst, Sandra Halliday