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Editor's pick Retail sustainability

Levi’s announces ambitious climate action target for 2025

Levi's
Levi’s

Levi Strauss & Co. has announced a new climate action strategy that has set an ambitious target of significantly reducing its carbon emissions by 2025.

The San Francisco-based company has pledged to cut down its greenhouse gas (GHG) by 90% in all its owned-and-operated facilities, and by 40% in its supply chain.

The targets were developed in partnership with Science Based Targets, an organization that helps businesses define and execute science-based target-setting in order to fight climate change.

“We believe that business has the opportunity and the responsibility to be a force for positive change in the world,” explains Chip Bergh, president and chief executive officer at Levi’s.

The initiative of reducing carbon emissions throughout the entirety of the company’s operations also aims to set an industry standard and hopefully inspire other brands to follow suit.

Levi’s has long positioned itself as a leader in sustainable innovation, and the announcement joins a series of commitments that reinforce its ambitions to become increasingly environmentally responsible.

In February 2018, the brand announced the launch of Project F.L.X., a new operating model which reinvents the denim finishing process by introducing technology in order to reduce the use of chemicals, as well as shorten production times.

Back in 1991, the brand established one of the industry’s first supplier codes of conduct, called ‘terms of engagement’. Championed by Paul Dillinger, now head of global product innovation at the company, it ensured that ethical considerations were paid to the company’s employees and the planet. To mark its 25th anniversary in 2016, Levi’s announced it would be expanding its Worker Well-Being initiative both within and outside the company.

Meanwhile in 2017, it announced it would be joining over 2,800 American organizations in the “We Are Still In” initiative, showing continued support for the Paris Climate Agreement.

To learn more about how Levi’s is approaching innovation – in this case, through smart clothing technology – listen to our TheCurrent Innovators podcast episode with Dillinger.

Catch up with all of our episodes of TheCurrent Innovators here. The series is a weekly conversation with visionaries, executives and entrepreneurs. It’s backed by TheCurrent, a consultancy transforming how consumer retail brands intersect with technology. We deliver innovative integrations and experiences, powered by a network of top technologies and startups. Get in touch to learn more.

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Campaigns Editor's pick social media

SXSW 2018: How Kate Spade balances strategy and creative in its storytelling

Kate Spade sxsw
Kate Spade

Strategy and creative shouldn’t be opposing forces, said the marketing team from Kate Spade at SXSW this week, highlighting how they balance both for every initiative they put out.

Mary Beech, executive VP and CMO, Kristen Naiman, SVP of brand creative, and Krista Neuhaus, senior director of digital brand marketing, spoke about how every digital initiative the brand embarks on involves understanding the symbiotic relationship between strategy, the story they want to tell, and the channel they want to tell it on.

The team finds balance between being strategic about what platform to invest their time and budget on, and what they should jump in early and learn along the way. They gave numerous examples of the way in which they have done this.

When Facebook Live came out, for instance, they developed a fully-fledged campaign shot professionally and hosted by a celebrity influencer, which quickly became resource-intensive and logistically tough, and made the brand realise that bigger is not always better. Eventually, the content was scaled back to feature in-the-moment footage often shot by the brand’s team.

Kate Spade on Instagram Stories
Kate Spade on Instagram Stories

Kate Spade had only recently decided Snapchat wasn’t the best platform for the brand when Instagram Stories came out, and rather than applying the same behind-the-scenes content plan to the feature, it began by engaging with fans via a series of quotes and questions to the audience – thus allowing them to plan content ahead and understand what stuck.

A new fragrance launch was the perfect opportunity for the brand to engage and potentially acquire a younger audience, the team said. YouTube was an easy choice for the campaign as the beauty category performs particularly well among the Gen Z audience in that space. Rather than pushing pre-roll ads based on basic demographics such as gender and age, Kate Spade uncovered queries that were high volume for their target demographic on YouTube – such as what love is, and how to become successful – and put paid media against it.

The result was a series of discovery-based ads featuring notable women aged 51, 31 and 21 (such as actress Laura Dern, as seen above) talking about a selection of topics in a very personal and honest tone of voice. In doing so, the brand targeted a woman who was looking for guidance or often solace, and aimed to provide a more meaningful brand interaction, even if short.

Working with influencers and quirky brand ambassadors is at the heart of Kate Spade’s engagement strategy otherwise, as with its #MissAdventure series. Its influencer strategy is split two-fold, said CMO Beech: long-time fans who speak to a very engaged audience and whose style and aesthetic is ‘on-brand’; and influencers who at first might seem like an odd choice for the brand, but help them acquire a new customer base. Man Repeller’s Leandra Medine is an example of the latter.

Kate Spade is a brand deeply rooted in America, so it has to fundamentally streamline its strategy for its global audience, Beech said. She highlighted the need to understand what is fundamentally only relevant in their home country, and what is universal. As a result, communications are ‘cleaner’ and simplified internationally, focused on non-verbal elements that are easier to digest in any territory or language. Its comedy series was deemed too regional, for instance, while elements such as color, the idea of joy, and even animals and a lot of product visuals are brought to the forefront worldwide.

The brand’s main intention, the team concluded, is to take an intent-rich customer and serve them a more narrative-driven and dynamic service over time.

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social media

How brands used Instagram Stories during New York Fashion Week

Ralph Lauren on Instagram Stories
Ralph Lauren on Instagram Stories

Instagram Stories is the current darling of the fashion world, or so it seemed in New York this past week as each and every designer brand took to the platform alongside their runway shows.

Fashion week has long been a central part of the social media strategy for these businesses – a ripe opportunity to capture what’s being putting out into the world with their new collections and build noise around their brands accordingly.

Providing fans with a “first look” or a step “behind-the-scenes” is somewhat par for the course these days, however. Much like live-streaming is no longer newsworthy (though Instagram Live was also in heavy use this season), neither really is a glimpse backstage or front row – more par for the course.

What Instagram Stories has provided however is an opportunity to do all of that at a rapid pace, without having to worry about the quality of the content. As with Snapchat before it, it’s the fact this content disappears 24-hours later that’s so appealing to these brands. Blink-and-you-miss-it as standard provides the exclusivity they appreciate, while not compromising on the beautiful feeds they are otherwise curating on their main accounts.

What’s more, this is a space that can generate big numbers – of the 700 million users on Instagram worldwide, 250 million are viewing the Stories feature everyday. What’s interesting to look at then, is how exactly brands are taking things a step further and playing with content in this environment. Head over to Forbes to read the highlights straight from Instagram Stories this season, including from Ralph Lauren, Marc Jacobs and Michael Kors.

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business e-commerce Editor's pick

Style.com folds as Condé Nast takes e-commerce to Farfetch

Style.com now automatically redirects to Farfetch after the announced partnership with Condé Nast
Style.com now automatically redirects to Farfetch after the announced partnership with Condé Nast

The big news on the content and commerce front today comes from Condé Nast and Farfetch, who have announced a strategic partnership to create a seamless editorial shopping experience.

The result will see Style.com discontinue operations effective immediately and redirect instead to Farfetch.com. There is no news as to what will happen to the 75 employees working for the site currently, nor details revealed on the terms of the deal, though Farfetch has acquired Style.com’s trademark, intellectual property and customer database.

The partnership comes following challenges for the Style.com brand to make headway as a serious e-commerce contender. It launched in the UK last autumn after several delays, and never made it to the US market. Now, Condé Nast aims to commercialise its content in a different way, by linking directly to Farfetch’s brands and boutiques around the world.

“As an early investor in Farfetch, this partnership is the next step in our evolving business relationship. It further unites two leaders in their respective sectors, combining best-in-class content with the world’s leading online luxury shopping destination,” said Jonathan Newhouse, chairman and chief executive of Condé Nast International and newly appointed board member of Farfetch.

Natalie Massenet, co-chairman of Farfetch, added: “Since 1999 I have believed in the importance of combining content and commerce in order to elevate the digital shopping experience. Content educates, entertains, and inspires purchases, which is crucial in the customer journey of discovery. We have long admired the depth, breath and sophistication of Condé Nast’s international reach and are excited for Farfetch to partner closely with Condé Nast. For the consumer this will be a joy to move from inspiration to transaction at any time and any place. And for the brands and international boutiques that have always partnered with Condé Nast this will further enhance their presence in Conde Nast’s media.”

The content-to-commerce experience will see shopping guides created by Condé Nast publications as well as the distribution of shoppable content across Condé Nast digital and social platforms. It will start with Vogue and GQ in the US, with plans for further expansion throughout the Condé Nast portfolio thereafter.

Categories
business e-commerce

Alibaba’s “new retail” model: a better omnichannel experience for luxury Consumers?

Luxury brands in China may have opportunities for better online to offline integration under Alibaba's "new retail" model (Shutterstock)
Luxury brands in China may have opportunities for better online to offline integration under Alibaba’s “new retail” model (Image: Shutterstock)

In just a few years, the explosive development of the e-commerce industry in China has led to the revolutionary transformation of the ways in which luxury brands do business there. Alibaba group has played a crucial role in shaking up the traditional retail sector, but now, the e-commerce giant is bucking the trend by buying up brick-and-mortar stores. With what it calls the “new retail” model, Alibaba is likely to bring big changes to the country’s retail landscape yet again, signalling an opportunity for luxury brands to consider what this can mean for their customer experience.

Last week, Alibaba announced its strategic partnership with Bailian Group, the largest brick-and-mortar retailer by store numbers in China. The deal is the latest move by the company to develop its “new retail” model—a concept first put forward by Jack Ma in 2016. By combining its e-commerce platform with traditional retail physical infrastructure, the new model attempts to create a brand new shopping experience for customers and disrupt the traditional logistics operations of brands by using the latest technologies, such as big data and artificial intelligence.

Over the past year, Alibaba has aggressively acquired sizable Chinese retailers of different types. It has formed partnerships with supermarket retailer Bailian Group, high-end retailer Yintai Group (owner of Intime Department Stores), electronics retailer Suning Commercial Group, and several others.

Alibaba’s “new retail” model could entirely transform the retail landscape in China if it succeeds. Luxury brands could potentially benefit as this new model can provide them an opportunity to offer better omnichannel experiences to consumers. China has seen a wave of store closures by veteran players such as Louis Vuitton and Gucci over the past two years as more luxury retailers now embrace digital channels to sell goods. However, the importance of an in-store experience that distinguishes a luxury brand from its competition is still critical.

A 2016 study by Boston Consulting Group (BCG) revealed that omnichannel retailing is demanded by more than 80 percent of luxury shoppers, and a joint study by ContactLab and Exane BNP Paribas pointed out that brick and mortar department stores on average deliver a better omnichannel retailing experience in comparison with stores featuring a single designer.

Luxury brands today need to become capable of taking care of both the digital and brick and mortar aspects of retail, but the financial constraints and the current social and economic outlook in China can make it difficult to emphasise both adequately.

It’s worth noting also that the process of online/offline integration in China is different from the West, where the retailer or brand is the main operator of its e-commerce platforms. But there are certain e-commerce platforms in China that are more forward-looking than others.

5lux.com is a Chinese luxury e-commerce site that pioneers in integrating online and offline channels
5lux.com is a Chinese luxury e-commerce site that pioneers in integrating online and offline channels

For instance, 5lux.com, a Chinese luxury e-commerce site, has, since 2016, aggressively promoted what it describes as an “online to offline (O2O)” business model. Having business relations with luxury brands including Dior, Gucci, and Bvlgari among others, 5lux.com offers its customers options to order products online and collect their purchases in store, or alternatively, buy products in stores and have them delivered. A 2016 report by the accounting firm PwC noted that the availability of different options is helpful for improving the business-to-customer interaction, which can turn into an opportunity to understand customers’ preferences. The transparency provided by this digital platform can also help brands optimise their inventory management.

Alibaba’s ambitions go far beyond the 5lux.com model. “Our partnership is not to strengthen the existing retailing pattern that people are familiar with,” Daniel Zhang, Alibaba’s chief executive officer said at a press conference. “We hope to see chemical reactions. If we can incubate a type of business model that others have never seen, then we are on the right track.”

Luca Solca, the head of luxury goods at Exane BNP Paribas, takes a more cautious stance on Alibaba’s latest moves. “I do think it is a must for incumbent retail companies—of which luxury goods brands are a subset—to integrate legacy assets with digital developments,” he said. “Having said that, I find that digital champions moving the other way is peculiar—especially if this involved material capital expenditure investments, as it would dilute return on invested capital (ROIC).”

By Yiling Pan @SiennaPan

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

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Editor's pick fashmash social media

10 tips and tricks for getting the most out of your Snapchat strategy

Snapchat
Snapchat is gaining serious traction in the fashion industry

With 150 million active daily users worldwide and 25-34 years olds as its fastest growing demographic, Snapchat is increasingly an appealing and pivotal part of social media strategy for fashion brands.

The problem is, with a severe lack of discoverability on the platform (there’s no search nor content surfacing), gaining traction isn’t the easiest task unless you’re spending money on ad products with the company. The same goes for the lack of metrics on hand; meaning building out what that content plan should look like isn’t a terribly straightforward one.

A paid-for strategy might well be for you, of course, and is in fact all that Snapchat itself will support. Burberry, ASOS, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, John Lewis and more, have all done so, working across the three ad products available (Snap Ads, which appear between Stories and Discover content, Sponsored Geofilters, which are location-specific overlays on images and videos taken, and Sponsored Lenses, which are augmented reality additions to selfies taken by users).

But underpinning that, needs to be a strong organic content plan – an understanding of the ways in which to get the most out of the platform year round, and use your other channels as a basis to push followers to it. At our recent #FashMash Bootcamp, a masterclass dedicated to Snapchat, we put forward 10 tips and tricks to get the most out of it, as well as lots of examples of brands to learn from within the fashion industry already doing it well.

Snapchat
Our Snapchat-themed #FashMash Bootcamp underway and documented on… Snapchat

1/ Tell stories

The key thing to recognise with Snapchat is how transient the content is. Arguably that affords you the ability to throw bits and pieces up and not worry too much. But more to the point, it means you need to make a big impact in a short amount of time to convince users to return. Storytelling is critical therefore. This is a storytelling platform. You need to think about what you’re creating along those lines accordingly. Even if your content is a basic behind-the-scenes view, does it have a beginning, middle and end? Storyboard out what that looks like before you start in order to capitalise on it to its greatest extent.

In terms of what the content should be, think around providing some seriously unique access – exclusivity beyond what you offer on other channels. Burberry has done this well, so has Agent Provocateur; both of them recognising this is not a place to copy and paste the same assets. The other critical consideration is around humour. Snapchat is all about entertainment. It’s playful, funny and whimsical, which may be an entirely different direction for your brand, but it’s a critical way to think in order to win on this platform. You want your content to have an “I would screenshot that” moment and being emotionally engaging is the secret sauce to making that happen.


2/ Get creative

Use the tools on hand within the Snapchat platform. The very heart of this app is the fun and frivolous nature of its messages sitting hand-in-hand with that humorous storytelling vibe – from the quirky illustrations you can add to the emojis, bitmojis, lenses and filters. Be native to the platform by integrating them into what you send. It will instantly lift your work to be more in line with what users expect to see. Gucci is a great example of a brand that has played with it in this way, thanks largely to its partnership with street artist GucciGhost, aka Trouble Andrew, last fashion week. But also check out the likes of Sophia Webster, ASOS and Primark.

If you’re up for advertising spend, your next best move is indeed a Sponsored Lens or Geofilter. The former tends to drive engagement, the latter is good for reach. Fashion has heavily experimented with both, the likes of Chanel through to Ugg creating entertaining and quite unexpected lenses, while River Island introduced filters to 280 of its stores.

Snapchat
Gucci on Snapchat

3/ Don’t overproduce it

If there’s one thing that Snapchat isn’t about, it’s a polished, beautiful, laboured-over image. Forget that. It’s raw, candid and in the moment. It’s effortless, but rough around the edges. Again, if you want to feel like you organically fit alongside what a user is viewing from their friends, you don’t want your content to feel like an advert. Amateur is the aim.

Valentino is a great brand in this space, sharing real and regular insights into what all goes on in its showrooms, without feeling too stuffy or produced. Art direction is fine, but it needs to feel native to the platform. Remember it’s shot on a smartphone, which almost instinctively leads to an insider view and a fly-on-the-wall style, so embrace it.


4/ Pick your personality

Another part of treating the platform natively, comes in thinking about how your content is presented. It almost goes without saying that video is critical, but where Snapchat sits differently to most other channels is that success is frequently found in having someone’s face on show within that. Users are used to a very personal view from the interactions and the selfies they have from friends; the augmented reality Lenses only push this further. If you’re approaching this as a brand therefore, it’s about hiring people that can achieve this for you. Are you working with an influencer (see point 7) or can your own team step up as personalities?

Everlane is the prime example here. It uses the platform as its primary social media channel, anchoring each and every post with insights from its candid and personable team members, Red Gaskell and Isadora Sales. They have come to represent the brand, making their stories and what they talk about, must-view content. It works within a feed of friends otherwise, and makes you feel as though you do indeed, know them yourself.


5/ Mix it up

The beauty of Snapchat is indeed the fact that it’s content so readily disappears, giving you the ability to experiment and see what works for you. Such ease of creation also provides the ability to mix up the type of content you produce, however. As with any channel, too much of the same thing gets repetitive. Think about how you can ensure a variety of content to keep it interesting for your team to produce and your viewers to watch – from the subject of them particularly, to whether they are stills or videos, and indeed include any of the creative tools in point 2.

Warby Parker is a particularly strong example of a brand posting regular and very varied types of posts. At this point in time, the industry at large, is leaning most heavily towards posting about product, followed by lifestyle and events, as per the below chart from L2. Can you think outside the box on this and lean towards ever-greater storytelling compared to your competitors, weaving in that piece around humour from point 1?

Snapchat
L2’s view on Snapchat content type by fashion brands

6/ Engage your community

To truly embrace the candidness of Snapchat, it’s important to engage your community. This isn’t a one-way channel, but rather an opportunity for authentic conversation. It’s about messaging far more than broadcasting. Encourage followers to send you Snaps by asking them questions in your story, invite them to screengrab certain posts you put up, and of course take that view into the real world with on-the-ground activations tied to your Snapchat feed.

Bloomingdale’s for instance ran a scavenger hunt with different geofilters placed around their stores that users had to send selfies of themselves with to win certain prizes. On an even simpler basis, rumour has it the team at Everlane send at least a selfie back to every Snap they receive.


7/ Work with influencers

As with so many other platform, working with influencers is a sure-fire way of authentically gaining traction and relevance with new audiences. It’s more important than ever with Snapchat however, where discovery is distinctly limited, as noted. For users to find you, they either need to know your exact username or have taken a picture of your Snapcode. Using influencers is therefore a smart route of enabling wider reach as well as engagement.

This is something the likes of Rimmel has done with Cara Delevingne and Tommy Hilfiger with Gigi Hadid. The latter has posted about the brand on her own account to drive new traffic to it, as well as hosted the occasional takeover on the Hilfiger channel around key events like fashion week. Treat those partnerships as you would on any other social network – make decisions based around what and who aligns with your brand, not just how many numbers they might extend to.

Snapchat
Gigi Hadid on Tommy Hilfiger’s Snapchat

8/ Think about timing

Ensure you create a rhythm of posting. The whole purpose of Snapchat is to foster FOMO (fear of missing out), meaning you need to give your viewers a reason to return on a regular basis so they feel like they really are missing something if they’re not there. The ephemeral and transient nature of this platform provides the perfect opportunity to do so. Consider having weekly segments like Everlane does with its #TransparencyTuesday campaign and Chubbies does with its True Thighs fictionalised series – both go-to campaigns that viewers know to tune in for.

At this point in time, the fashion industry is otherwise largely focused on delivering content around fashion weeks or other events. Given there’s no back catalogue for users to flick through, that’s often a wasted opportunity. That’s not to say it’s essential to post everyday, but it’s only by regularly being present that you get seen here.


9/ Connect to commerce

All the aforementioned tips around storytelling, personalities and dialogue still stand, but on Snapchat, product reveals and showcases also have a big part to play. Consumers reportedly want to see your stuff, but the question then stands as to how you connect that engagement through to conversion? There is of course no direct route for links to e-commerce pages, nor any metrics around anything you’re putting out (unless you’re paying for ad products, as explained), but there are ways to start seeing uplift if you approach it creatively.

Think outside the box with your content strategy if conversion is a key objective. Can you drive codes through Stories that shoppers can bring into stores, giving you an anecdotal mode of ROI at least? Or could you share direct product codes within your posts, as Ann Taylor LOFT and Revolve have both done? Everlane has even experimented with Snapchat Discover publisher Sweet recently to test the idea of shoppable content via screenshots and emails.


10/ Spread the fun

As noted, discovery on Snapchat is really hard. There’s also no way to know how many followers you have or have gained with a campaign, unless it’s a paid one. Your number one job with any content strategy on the channel is therefore to look at broader means of getting people on board. You should be pushing your Snapcode out to further social platforms, as well as the real world, but more than that, cross promoting what you produce in order to drive awareness around the content itself.

Everything you post can be saved, reuploaded and shared elsewhere; teased and pushed accordingly. Fendi has even used its Snapchat Tour campaign as an opportunity to create an entire series on its own website, letting something that was once 24 hours long, live on long thereafter. Influencers come in again here too in order to help push numbers, but if you have a big following on the likes of Facebook, you might also want to think around some paid promotion on mobile using the “snapchat.com/add/username” link to drive awareness and direct click-throughs to the app and your account.

These tips and tricks were compiled with the help of Karinna Nobbs – our partner in crime for #FashMash Bootcamp. Head over to Forbes for further insight into 10 fashion brands particularly nailing their Snapchat strategy.

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business digital snippets e-commerce film social media Startups technology

What you missed: Snapchat’s spectacles, driving see-now buy-now sales, Cartier’s sponsored content

Snapchat spectacles
Snapchat spectacles

It might have been Milan Fashion Week, but the majority of musing worth knowing about in the digital space this past week surrounds the launch of Snapchat’s (now Snap Inc’s) new camera glasses. On top of that has been everything from whether see-now, buy-now fashion week shows are actually driving sales, the fact McQueen and Chanel top a new CoolBrands list, and why LVMH’s digital drive is taking time despite its big Apple hire. Read on for a breakdown of everything you need to know…


TOP STORIES
  • Why Snapchat’s spectacles can succeed where Google Glass failed [AdAge]
  • Are ‘see now, buy now’ shows driving sales? [BoF]
  • Neiman Marcus is encouraging brands to adopt ‘see-now, buy-now’ strategy [Fashionista]
  • Alexander McQueen and Chanel make top 20 global CoolBrands list [The Industry]
  • Inside Cartier’s sponsored content strategy [Glossy]

BUSINESS
  • LVMH’s digital drive takes time despite Apple hire [Reuters]
  • Adidas and Under Armour are challenging Nike like never before [Business Insider]
  • Tiffany proposes growth through engagement in the digital age [BrandChannel]

SOCIAL MEDIA
  • YSL Beauté reveals first ever UK Snapchat lens [The Industry]
  • Adidas claims retention on Snapchat is ‘insane’ compared to YouTube [The Drum]
  • Teens talk Instagram beauty influencers and what makes them buy [Racked]
  • Here’s how much engagement brands got from back-to-school social posts [AdWeek]
  • Google launches messaging app with chatbot [Campaign]
  • Branded emojis coming to messaging apps [WSJ]

MARKETING
  • Gap teams up with Mr Black to raise awareness for denim care [Fashion United]
  • Bobbi Brown initiates mobile makeovers with Uber [WWD]

RETAIL
  • How designer Rebecca Minkoff uses technology to create a better shopping experience [The Street]
  • BHS to launch online a month after last store closed [Guardian]
  • Zara fashions an expanded online growth strategy [BrandChannel]

TECHNOLOGY
  • The secret lab where Nike invented the power-lacing shoe of our dreams [Wired]
  • No. 21 Sends shoes that glow in the dark down the Milan Fashion Week runway [Footwear News]

START-UPS
  • Carmen Busquets, fashion e-commerce’s fairy godmother [NY Times]
  • Where is the Uber of fashion? [Forbes]
Categories
business e-commerce Editor's pick

Burberry leads see-now, buy-now fashion week charge amid tiered industry strategy

Burberry's see-now, buy-now collection at London Fashion Week
Burberry’s see-now, buy-now collection at London Fashion Week

When the Burberry show walked out at London Fashion Week last night, absolutely everything was available to buy for the first time. The womenswear and menswear apparel, the accessories, even the make-up was shoppable. That’s a total of 83 looks, comprising over 250 pieces. They’re being sold through Burberry’s physical and digital retail network, shipping to over 100 countries.

This shift is what’s being called “see-now, buy-now”, a lengthy phrase for what is essentially the showing of current season stock over the traditional six month timelag.

As perhaps the brand making the biggest move in terms of sheer volume of stock already produced, it was a notable occasion that had to be geared around relevancy – showcasing things one not only wanted to buy, but actually wear right away as the weather starts to draw in. For those of us seeing the collection for the first time, it worked; offering an experience that enabled us to view it as though through the eyes of the excitable consumer (heavily aided by the live orchestra and incredible Makers House setup, which is open to the public for the rest of the week). Many of us, of course, then did become the consumer too.

For others, including long-lead press, it wasn’t of course their initial viewing having had access ahead of time to see the collection in its developmental stages. Many of them commented so during the evening – noting that in some instances they’d even already shot it. And there we have a little hint as to the future of what fashion week is going to look like – an elaborate showcase, a series of consumer events, a collection instantly available to buy, and a trade audience still willing to attend even if they’ve been privy to the line during its creation process beforehand.

If you’re Burberry that is…

Burberry's see-now, buy-now collection at London Fashion Week
Burberry’s see-now, buy-now collection at London Fashion Week

Or perhaps if you’re Tom Ford too. Speaking ahead of his show in New York, he told Vogue: “It’s [all ready to go] at Bergdorf’s, it’s at Neiman’s. They’ve photographed it for their catalogs, they had to sign non-disclosure agreements, they couldn’t leak any pictures. So it’s done. It’s all over the world ready to go into our stores.”

Ralph Lauren, Rebecca Minkoff and Topshop Unique are all also playing with full collections available immediately, albeit largely through their own distribution channels (and in some cases, like Tom Ford, a handful of select retail partners).

The entire strategy raises concerns for many businesses otherwise – especially those who are significantly smaller, either without the budget for such extensive showcases, or heavily reliant on winning numerous wholesale partners, making the close-to-season launch less feasible. The outcome of the CFDA’s commissioned report with the Boston Consulting Group into all of this, essentially said every brand would need to look at their own situation differently and try to define where they sit within it accordingly.

Speaking at a pre-fashion week breakfast hosted by Fashion & Mash in partnership with Soho House, Clara Mercer, communications director for the British Fashion Council, largely agreed, suggesting that what we’ll see is varying strategies over the next few seasons before some kind of shape and order is pulled together to make everything clearer.

As Tom Ford said: “I don’t know if this will be sustainable. We’ll have to see. I’ll have to see how it works; see how our customers respond to it.”

Experimentation is what’s been evident throughout both New York and London so far, with many brands trying see-now, buy-now in different ways, several of them releasing just a handful of exclusive products for sale.

Tommy Hilfiger see-now, buy-now
Tommy Hilfiger teamed up with Gigi Hadid for New York Fashion Week and its version of see-now, buy-now

Take Tommy Hilfiger for instance. Hosting what was undoubtedly the most extravagant of shows during New York, complete with full-fledged carnival, it showcased a capsule collection designed in partnership with supermodel Gigi Hadid. In that instance, the Hilfiger brand is capitalising on a big name collaboration in order to shift not only this limited edition stock, but the significantly broader lines it has in place all around the world. It’s not so much about numerous wholesale partnerships for this particular collection therefore, but a broader marketing move.

Michael Kors meanwhile made around a dozen products available to purchase straight away, noting ahead of the show: “We’re finding that a hybrid blend is really what works for us.”

Then there’s Alexander Wang, who previously said he wouldn’t participate in see-now, buy-now, but instead surprised his audience by introducing a collaboration with adidas Originals live at the end of the show. Nine items from that 84-piece line were immediately available to purchase the next day via trucks across New York City, and following that in London and Tokyo. The rest goes on sale, as per usual, in spring 2017.

On a smaller scale, Temperley London sold just three pieces from her new collection – a printed dress, embellished jumpsuit and embroidered top. In doing so exclusively via social app Vero, she became one of the first brands to tie together the idea of see-now, buy-now as a fashion week strategy with the trend for social commerce. (Others including Burberry again are selling pieces immediately on channels like WeChat).

And then there’s Hugo Boss, which unveiled just a single bag, the Boss Bespoke Soft, in four colours for sale immediately after its New York show. This is much in line with what Prada did in February – jumping in to the see-now, buy-now world, but only via the delivery of two handbags. And that from one of the slowest brands to the e-commerce game, having literally only launched online via Net-a-Porter this July.

Vero see-now, buy-now London Fashion Week
Blanca Padilla, Isabeli Fontana and Ana Beatriz Barros pose with Alice Temperley in the three exclusive Temperley London see-now, buy-now pieces available only on Vero

Katie Baron, head of retail, innovation and insights at Stylus, calls these variances in approach part of an understanding that a tiered system might be the outcome of such experimentation. Of note of course is the fact Burberry has long sold the odd item for immediate purchase or at least pre-order from its catwalk.

“The first wave of see-now, buy-now generated a major panic within the luxury sector because it was largely taken as read that it would force luxury businesses anchored in long lead-time, high craft to whip their collections into being at high speed, pulling them uncomfortably close to the mass market. What we’re now seeing is an understanding that see-now, buy-now needn’t be so all-encompassing, as shrewd brands release either selected, controllably limited edition pieces (see Prada) or spin-off collaborations tacked onto the main show (see Alexander Wang X adidas),” Baron explains.

“It’s effectively creating a kind of tiered system to satisfy both the need for instant gratification and possibly younger consumers looking for a way into an otherwise prohibitively expensive world. This notion of ‘tiering’ is only going to become more important as retail, overall, becomes less one-size-fits-all.”

At the other end of the scale therefore are also the brands that have changed tack entirely, opting to forego wholesale models in the main to rather sell direct-to-consumer in the right season, and thus do so at greater speed and flexibility – not to mention regularity.

In London, Matthew Williamson is one of them. Net-a-Porter remains its only retail partner, meaning that team see the line in advance, but for everyone else, it happens in real-time. The latest “Calypso” collection, for instance, went on sale just ahead of London Fashion Week this season, launching with a digital influencer event, coverage on Vogue Runway, and instant pushes to relevant e-commerce pages. For them, this is a no-brainer. Ask Rosanna Falconer, business director at the brand, as to why, and the answer is incredibly simple: consumers have never been happier.

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business

BoF moves to walled content model, intros monthly and annual subscriptions

 

BoF Professional
BoF Professional

The Business of Fashion is introducing a paywall in front of much of its content in a bid to move forward with monetisation, it announced today.

From October 25, BoF Professional, as the subscription setup has been dubbed, will be the only way to get unlimited access to its content as well as exclusive analysis, special briefings and networking events. There are both monthly and annual payment plans available.

“For almost a decade, The Business of Fashion has been a trusted source of independent, authoritative analysis on the global fashion industry, arming fashion professionals all over the world with a powerful competitive advantage in today’s turbulent times. Now, it’s time for BoF to take the next step in our journey as a business,” founder Imran Amed wrote in his post about the plans.

Students and occasional readers will continue to have access to five articles per month free of charge, as well as unlimited access to the site’s Daily Digest Newsletter, BoF Fashion Week galleries, the BoF 500 and BoF Careers.

There will also be a special discount to students who wish to upgrade to BoF Professional, as well as special group rates to companies and other organisations of 10 people or more.

BoF has been steadily moving towards more of a revenue-driven model over the past couple of years, with services including a careers site, education platform and offline events under the header BoF Voices all bringing in money to the growing company.

The team raised £1.3m in seed funding from a group of investors in 2013, including Index Ventures, LVMH, Carmen Busquets and Felix Capital. This was followed by a Series A round in 2015.

For those looking to subscribe, the team is offering a 50% early bird discount to the annual subscription of £9 per month. The monthly subscription is £18 per month.

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business e-commerce mobile

Luxury brands are relatively primitive in the world of email marketing – report

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Despite the fact email is one of the most cost effective forms of digital marketing, and a proven route to drive traffic, only 30% of luxury brands are using it to its full potential, says customer engagement specialists ContactLab.

Its new report, conducted in conjunction with Exane BNP Paribas, suggests email marketing practice is relatively primitive in the sector, and reveals an opportunity gap surrounding better segmentation and personalisation of content, as well as integration with other channels.

It highlights brands including Burberry, Cartier and Armani as leading on its “Email Competitive Map”, comparative to others such as Cèline, Prada and Givenchy who are dragging behind. Unsurprisingly, such email performance seems to align with overall digital competency, according to the research.

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Other negative factors specific to email strategy include excessive frequency and an overwhelming commercial bias. But it’s brands who do not exploit data collection to achieve full segmentation that create the largest impression of complacency, it suggests.

Marco Pozzi, author of the research, says: “Achieving customer segmentation will always be a challenge but there remains a lot of room for luxury brands to differentiate in their emails and create more personalised campaigns. Simply sending generic content and treating all customers as one does not build a relationship with customers. Customer shopping habits have changed and they expect an integration of different channels as part of the omnichannel experience. ”

It’s not all bad news however, there are a few luxury brands who do already distribute personalised messages. Of those, Dolce and Gabbana is leading, followed by Armani, which addresses recipients according to gender/title, building a strong relationship with customers in the process.

Continuing on a positive note, ContactLab pointed out that, across the board there is good performance on email localisation (key languages) and structure (composition, visualisation).

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“With the modern customers having an overload of content and often bombarded with emails, brands need to ensure the emails they distribute are relevant and thus capturing the attention of the consumer,” Pozzi adds. ContactLab’s study suggests customers prefer a varied mix of content that isn’t too commercial. Hermès leads the way with a balanced mix of branding, commercial and store-focused content, it highlights.

The report outlines the fact email marketing offers opportunities for brands to receive large amounts of traffic via smartphones and tablets particularly. Time spent browsing on such devices is notoriously short, so targeted emails that stand out from the crowd are essential.

So what does the future look like for email marketing? Luxury brands need to review the different services they offer and integrate cross-channel communication. A small number of brands ask for ZIP codes and postcodes, which could be used in conjunction with store locators. Elements like ‘buy now’ buttons and links to shoppable apps should also be introduced. Right now, only Cartier includes a “Book an Appointment” tab and only Burberry offers a “Collect in Store” option. Technology to incorporate cross-channel communication through email is already available, so expect to see more of this sometime soon.

It’s worth remembering that although email is only one aspect of the ecosystem, the impact of effective digital marketing can result in a 40% increase in revenue. A separate study by McKinsey also shows that 75% of luxury consumers interact with at least one digital touchpoint before making a sale in the offline world. A strategic use of email that caters to the user’s needs must be implemented.