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Eileen Fisher on sustainability being key to long-term customer loyalty

Customers care about fit and style, but sustainability is an important added bonus that leads to loyalty, said Amy Hall, VP of social consciousness at Eileen Fisher at NRF’s Big Show in New York yesterday.

“If it’s not beautiful and it doesn’t fit them well, we’re not going to make the sale,” adds Hall, who has been with the womenswear label for 25 years. For its clientele, finding out products are made with eco materials in ethical factories is the icing on the cake and helps them attach a much more long lasting value to the brand.

Hall was speaking on a panel about sustainability’s new surge in popularity alongside Eileen Mockus, president and CEO of sustainable home textiles brand Coyuchi and Jason Wachob, founder and CEO of wellness platform mindbodygreen. Mockus agrees that customers are still initially drawn to a great product, and if there is a good story attached to it, it creates a longer term relationship.

The panel also touched on the importance of helping customers create an emotional connection with environmental issues. Customers don’t respond emotionally to a big, abstract issue like climate change, for example, but rather operate from a ‘me first’ mentality, says Wachob. Showing how their consumption habits may impact other human beings down the supply chain, for example, can be much more effective, adds Hall.

Sustainability is having a moment because it not only creates very positive brand associations for the consumer, but from an innovation standpoint, it is leading the charge in the fashion industry. But there are plenty of pitfalls to this booming industry, the panel argues. Hall highlights the certification system, for example, wherein there is a lot of confusion and fraud, which she believes is leading to up to half of certifications being fake or inaccurate.

In an environment where a select group of players are making strides but a much larger group is simply making noise, it is important to know how to focus. Hall suggests that brands should start with one thing, such as changing how a product is shipped, and tick it off their list before working their way up. As consumers become increasingly informed on the issue, so will their demands on how every step of the journey can play an important part in ensuring a more sustainable future.

How are you thinking about sustainability? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners to do so. TheCurrent Global is a consultancy transforming how fashion, beauty and 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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business Campaigns

3 ways fashion brands weighed in on the US midterm elections

Tory Burch
Tory Burch

Fashion companies used to avoid dipping into politics, but with society facing greater polarisation than ever, consumers are expecting their favorite brands to speak up.

More than half of US consumers (52%) said a brand’s position on social or environmental issues would impact their holiday buying decisions this year, up three points from 2017, according to research published this week by The NPD Group.

“In this midterm election year, political polarization and activism is on the rise in this country, and it’s bleeding into the upcoming holiday season, especially among younger consumers,” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry advisor of The NPD Group.

With customers becoming more aware of what they support with their dollars, retailers don’t want to look like another callous corporation, but getting activism-based association right, is a challenge of authenticity.

Check out these three initiatives major brands took in the run-up to the US midterm elections:
 

Political backing from Patagonia

Patagonia
Patagonia

Known for its environmental activism, outdoor brand Patagonia took a step further this election. Not only did it join the Time to Vote campaign by closing stores nationwide to give employees the opportunity to get to their local polling stations, but it also made its first political endorsements in the brand’s history, supporting Democratic candidates Jackie Rosen and Jon Tester.

“The company is endorsing candidates for the first time this year because of the urgent and unprecedented threats to our public lands and waters. Nevada and Montana are two states where Patagonia has significant company history and a long record of conservation accomplishments, and where the stakes are too high to stay silent,” the company said in a statement.

In addition, the brand launched an entire section of its website to help customers “make a voting plan”, with links to information about candidates and polling places.
 

T-shirt endorsement from Moda Operandi, Tory Burch and Carbon 38

Moda Operandi
Moda Operandi

Limited-edition tees with “Vote” signs were on sale at numerous retailers to drive awareness around increased voter turnout. Moda Operandi even created a trunk show called “Vote 2018” dedicated to selling them. Tory Burch’s tee was among those featured on the luxury e-commerce site, with the proceeds going to Yara Shahidi’s Eighteen x 18. Prabal Gurung’s bamboo-cotton tee was also on sale, and sold out, with proceeds supporting Rock the Vote.

Activewear brand Carbon38 created 300 tanks emblazoned with “I Am a Voter”, producing a second run after selling out. All of the proceeds support groups including Democracy Works, Headcount, Nonprofit Vote, Rock the Vote, Vote.org, #VoteTogether, Voto Latino and When We All Vote.

“We noticed heavier-than-usual traffic on our site and likely reached a broader demographic than just our core customer since so many people are proud and compassionate about this,” said Carbon38 co-founder and CEO, Katie Warner Johnson, to WWD.
 

Voting booths at Levi’s

Levi's
Levi’s

Another participant in the Time to Vote campaign, Levi Strauss & Co also went above and beyond to encourage turnout. The brand worked with Rock the Vote to install 40 voter registration booths in Levi’s stores.

According to the brand’s president and CEO, Chip Bergh, the current divided political climate and government’s failure to provide for society are pushing companies to weigh in. “We are a $5 billion company. I have a platform that would be wasted if we are not taking advantage to make a difference in this world”, he said at the Fast Company Innovation Festival in New York last week.

Bergh explained the business operates with a concept called “profits through principles”: every year it gives a certain percentage of its profits as a company to its foundation. “Through the foundation, we execute a lot of goodwill towards the communities and the society.”

With so many different social issues to choose from, brands have a responsibility to pick causes that align with their values. As Bergh puts it: “If you stand for everything, you stand for nothing. We’ve had to be deliberate about the spots we’re going to weigh in on.”

Are you thinking innovatively enough in your brand messaging? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners to do so. TheCurrent is a consultancy transforming how fashion, beauty and 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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Bjo?rn Borg disrupts World Cup with blockchain and AR LGBTQ experiences

Bjo?rn Borg AR experience at the World Cup 2018

Swedish underwear label Bjo?rn Borg is taking a stand on LGBTQ rights, including marriage equality, with two digital initiatives that coincide with the start of the World Cup 2018 in Russia.

During the first match of the football championship, Russia versus Saudi Arabia, brand fans were encouraged to place an augmented reality “tifo” – the word for large organised visuals displayed by football crowds – via an online platform. Upon visiting the platform, users could place a visual of a gay couple kissing above the crowd, either on their desktop, or pointing their phones towards a TV playing the match. In the illustration, the couple is sporting painted stripes that represent each country’s flags, with a strapline that reads, “Love Will Win Tonight.”

Users can then share the visuals on social media, while the brand has developed web ads with similar messaging. The launch during the first match is particularly symbolic as in Russia, promoting homosexuality is considered propaganda, while in Saudi Arabia being gay is considered a crime that can be punished by death.

Although the AR experience will only be available throughout the football championship, it lives under a larger digital platform where the brand is further cementing its stance through the use of blockchain technology. Marriage Unblocked allows any user to propose, exchange vows and get married digitally by storing their information on a blockchain ledger, which can either be made public or remain anonymous. Users who participate, many of which are from countries where gay marriage is not legal, get a certificate for their digital marriage. Although not legal, the symbolic feature creates an emotional experience that allows those who have been denied the right to marriage to express their love for one another.

Bjo?rn Borg has long used the conversation around love to promote a more inclusive society, as well as tying the topic to their brand messaging in general. In 2011, a TV spot featured a traditional wedding ceremony with a twist; and 2015, it launched an online game where weapons included holographic kisses and heart-shaped soap bubbles, showcasing that love conquers all. The brand, much like cross-industry counterparts like Lush, has long understood that taking a stand on a major topic that matters to them is a pivotal strategy when engaging with younger customers who wear their values on their sleeves.