Forbes has published a report, “Social Media Is Fashion’s Newest Muse,” with several examples of how fashion brands are using social media strategies to improve their bottom line. Retailers and designers are tapping into Facebook, Twitter and other platforms to get instant customer feedback, spot trends, and drive design and merchandising decisions.
Among the strategies and examples cited in the article:
1. Use social media feedback to drive design direction
- Ann Taylor has expanded its petite offerings and its shoe collection, both based on customer feedback, most of which is now coming from social media channels.
- Sense of Fashion merchant Francesca Audelo, who sells a line of vintage- inspired hair accessories called FancyThat, regularly uses social media to poll her customers on everything from feather colors to favorite styles, and has even used customer feedback to change her pricing strategies.
2. Use social media to manage decisions about sizes
- Athletic wear retailer Lululemon says ommunication and dialogue via social media have become central to the Vancouver-based company, whose first-quarter operating profits more than tripled since the same period last year. The company encourages customer suggestions, and comments on the Lululemon Facebook page (183,000 fans and via Twitter (40,000 followers) almost always get a response. The company has adjusted everything from where pockets sit on pants to the placement of waistbands on running shorts, and even learned that it needed to stock more small sizes, based on online customer feedback.
- Marc Jacobs CEO Robert Duffy, responding to Twitter feedback from customers who wanted plus sizes, tweeted “We gotta do larger sizes,” to the company’s more than 26,000 followers.
3. Use social media to create custom products
- Handbag designer Dareen Hakim uses her connections to customers to keep up with rapidly changing trends about colors and materials. By the end of the year Hakim hopes to offer customized designs suggested by customers for sale.
4. Use social media to drive marketing decisions
- Earlier this summer LOFT, which is owned by Ann Taylor, posted photos on its Facebook page of a new pair of pants worn by a skinny model. Many commenters complained, saying that the clothes would look great only on the super-skinny. The retailer responded the next day, posting several new photos of employees wearing the same pants in sizes ranging from 2 to 12, a response that received almost 100 comments, most positive. Ann Taylor saw a 16% rise in same-store sales for the second quarter of 2010–and many analysts are pointing to the company’s aggressive use of social media for helping to lure new customers.