Social advocates – the dedicated followers of fashion

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With Bread and Butter looming next week ‘The Bold and Brave’ fashion brands will be demonstrating their latest creations to trade – but are they demonstrating the same creativity to their digital consumer?


A recent report from think tank L2 suggests that fashion in digital has two major challenges; ecommerce, and social advocacy.


Surprisingly, less than half of the fashion brands analysed had an ecommerce solution for the UK, despite ‘apparel’ being the second largest ecommerce market behind electronics.


The way we see it, fashion brands generally sit in one of two camps when it comes to digital. Those that have an ecommerce platform, but have been tainted from inflexible systems they signed up to years ago; and those that don’t have ecommerce, who now resort to knee-jerk digital campaigns as an attempt to keep up with the digital consumer. This is clearly shown in fashion brands recent high adoption of social platforms like pinterest and instagram.


We’ve seen this before in music, publishing and other industries who have suffered from the idea that their industry is ‘exclusive’. It would seem fashion is teetering on a similar dichotic precipice – do they ignore social, or do they embrace it?


Getting social doesn’t necessarily mean losing exclusivity. The brand can remain exclusive, whilst users can volunteer to take on brand advocate status, sharing their love for your brand and (lets hope) driving even more customers to you. Only a few years ago, when email was the new DM, we called this member-get-member.


But there is a price to pay for being social – it could be considered an ‘advocacy transaction’ between the brand and the consumer. If you want social advocates; if you want people to share their brand experiences through social media, then you better make sure you deliver good experiences. Fashion has multiple challenges in this area – not only do they need to offer a great user experience in terms of the ecommerce platform, but they must branch out further than this and offer a great holistic experience – this means a responsive customer support system, fast and reliable delivery, instore-pickup, a painless returns policy and of course targeted ongoing digital marketing and CRM.


All these elements need to work seamlessly – almost silently – that’s what the digital consumer expects – that’s how they will convert from browsing to purchase to social advocate. This will only be achieved with a well-planned multi-channel digital strategy that is user-centric in its approach and uses the benefits of exclusivity to its advantage – not to its detriment.


Finally, no conversation about consumer and digital can be completed without a note about devices. Understanding how your customer accesses digital content, not how you ‘want’ them to access it is one of the main elements that will see your digital strategy succeed. L2’s research demonstrates that 22% of searches for fashion brands come from non-PC devices.  iPad conversion rates are now showing as twice that of desktop or laptop computers. The digital consumer is device agnostic, digitally connected and mobile. We’re not saying that consumer are turning into the Borg, but we are saying that resistance to this is futile.*


*terrible Star Trek reference – not very fashion we know and for that we apologise.