The influence of social media on our lives is not news — but do these platforms have much impact on individual industries? In years gone by, fashion was presented to us through glossy magazines and catwalk shows. Through these controlled channels, fashion was kept exclusive, determined by designers and magazine editors. Fast-forward to 2018 and it’s a very different story.
Social media lets us share trends instantly. While catwalks and glossies remain a part of today’s fashion sphere, fashion is more fluid and interactive than ever before — so how is social media changing the way fashion brands connect with their audience? QUIZ — leading retailer of plus-size clothing — investigates…
How do we consume our fashion?
Forget Vogue, there are so many different ways to get your fashion fix in 2018. It’s all about social media — what products are online retailers pushing this season and what’re the bloggers and influencers on your news feed into this month?
The millennial generation reportedly finds traditional advertising — like magazines — less trustworthy than newer forms. In the world of fashion, this means that magazines and advertising campaigns don’t have the influence that they once did — they’re now seen as quite distant from the reader as many are aware of the editing that goes on behind one shot. Instead, peer recommendations are more valuable and accessible than they once used to be. Of course, we’ve all heard of the power of word-of-mouth, but with social media and its ability to spread at a rapid speed across countries, it’s more important than ever before. Of Instagram’s total audience, 200 million users follow at least one fashion account. 45% of Instagram users in Britain say they follow these fashion accounts to gain inspiration for looks they can buy or create themselves. Sharing their own looks is a part of this process too, with #fashion mentioned a huge 13 million times a month and #ootd (outfit of the day) featuring in 140 million posts to date.
Peer validation also plays a part in how we engage with fashion in 2018, as many of us strive for more ‘likes’ and ‘followers’. So, do we really care that much about what other people think? Research found that 71% of people are more likely to make an online purchase if the product or service has been recommended by others. In addition to this, 84% of millennials are likely to be influenced into making a purchase based on the user-generated content by strangers who have experienced the product or service.
Clearly, fashion brands can boost their sales and awareness rates by utilising social media. Even luxury brands — that once shunned social media for fear of it cheapening their image — are jumping on the digital bandwagon. While 72% of luxury fashion brands’ marketing spend is still attributed to print marketing, digital is quickly gaining pace — reaching a total digital ad spend of $100 billion in 2016.
Influencers and what they can do for fashion
Now, fashion firms can really connect with their target audience and forge a relationship with their consumers. Founder and editor in chief of independent publication, the Business of Fashion, Imran Amed, says: “The one thing that has changed dramatically in recent years is the direct relationship brands now have with their consumers. In this new hierarchy, the consumer has the ability to amplify or negatively impact on business, through sharing positive or negative responses.”
Take the catwalk, for example. Fashion shows were once exclusively for the top names in fashion, but now, we can all watch them online. Access to the designers’ latest fashion lines was often something that we could only hear about through magazines and the press. Now however, we can keep up with the latest through monitoring the content attached to a hashtag.
Fashion brands are also learning to not limit themselves by incorporating multiple platforms, not just Facebook and Twitter. But, now there’s a new player on the scene — and it’s taking over. Instagram reached 800 million monthly active users in September 2017 and these users have the highest level of engagement (time spent using the app) compared to other social media sites.
With Instagram, a fashion company can create an almost instant connection with their consumer. This encourages brands to think more about ‘real’ people, with different bodies, skin tones and fashion preferences — it’s opened a whole new world for fashion marketers.
Have you heard of Instagram shopping? Now, brands are able to tag products in their posts which can then lead users to a point-of-sale. Early adopters of this, such as Natori and Magnolia Boutique, have already found that traffic and sales from Instagram have increased after implementing the shopping service.
People are also encouraged to post images of themselves wearing their outfits on social media. This is another form of user-generated content and it allows others to see what the outfit looks like on real people. In some cases, users are given the chance to feature on the main social media page.
What is an influencer?
Starting a conversation is key in marketing for fashion brands. The influencer economy of Instagram alone is valued at $1 billion and 94% of businesses said influencer marketing was an effective campaign strategy.
But what is influencer marketing? This involves working with influential personas — for example, a blogger or user with a high social following — to boost awareness of a brand or promote a product. For example, Adidas recently unveiled supermodel Kendall Jenner as its new Adidas Ambassador. With a total Instagram following of 89.2 million compared to Adidas’ 19.2 million, the partnership will significantly increase Adidas’ social reach and position the brand in front of Jenner’s younger fashion following.
Think about it like getting a tip or recommendation from a friend. Seeing people we admire or look up to wearing a particular outfit or using a certain product is a vote of confidence in a brand that makes us more likely to purchase the particular product or interact with the brand in the future. This sense of community is something that brand accounts struggle to deliver; a third-party is needed to validate the products for consumers.
Celebrities offer high exposure, so they’re effective when it comes to influencer marketing — but influencers aren’t always famous. It can involve any profile that can add value to a brand but generally, this value is measured in terms of volume of followers.
Essentially, an influencer should have the same target demographic as the brand they are collaborating with. Influencer relationships can be expensive, so the associated spend needs to be justifiable — yet doing so can be problematic for fashion brands, when you consider the difficulty surrounding success measurement.
Research found that 5% of the influencers that were offering product recommendations were driving 45% of social influence — clearly, influencer marketing is working.
Fashion is not the same industry as it was even ten years ago. We’re now more connected with our brands than ever before and are proud to publicly post about the names we love. With the implementation of Instagram shopping already changing the process of fashion retailing, who knows what the future holds?