INSTAGRAM: TOP 3 BRANDS’ MARKETING STRATEGY

The likes of Valentino, Louis Vuitton, Dior, and Moschino, among many others are using Instagram to communicate with their consumers on the daily through storytelling images that represent the world of these fashion houses. It’s during various fashion weeks that competition arises between these brands. Instagram is unofficially the fashion industry’s preferred social platform and brands are becoming savvier on how to use the app to provide consumers with a highly constructed peephole into the brand’s luxurious world.

Now more than ever, luxury shoppers are connected to a digital universe and consumers seek brand interaction before they shop your brand online or even leave their homes to go into a store. A brand without an online presence can no longer be successful, as the “window shopping” aspect of real life has become almost entirely online, done from the consumers’ own living room. Without an online presence, consumers aren’t able to interact with the brand, experience it, and browse the collections. Even Chanel, who is considered a late bloomer to the digital universe finally cave in on October 2014 while its competitors such as Dior and Louis Vuitton had existed online since 2013.

L2 reports that 95% of fashion luxury houses as of July 2015 are on Instagram. Magazine and TV ads can cost from thousands to millions of dollars and do not receive merely as much user engagement and attention as a seemingly “free” Instagram post. According to L2, Instagram posts generate 15x more engagement than traditional advertising and other social media platforms such as Facebook.

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Luxury houses’ Instagram profiles are essentially museums, carefully curated in a manner that brings the brand alive, and allows the consumer to experience the brand through extremely attractive and alluring visual imagery, both photo and video. These brands’ digital universe makes the fashion house both extravagant, exclusive, and aspirational, but also accessible to anyone anywhere in the world. The digital universe invites both consumers and aspirational ones to like, share, and ultimately, spend. Brands are now understanding that you have to be connected with everyone who touches your brand.

Marketing and PR Manager at Joe’s Jeans, Aimee, says that “[t]he challenge that remains is how to showcase the quality of the products while telling the full story behind them. You can’t feel or try them on, so we have to relay through images why they’re worth every penny. Our strategy is to create an aspirational lifestyle in 75% of our posts, to give our product an environment to be seen in by our followers. We want our followers to relate to our brand and want to be an advocate for the [brand]’s lifestyle, which is why we feature so many fashion influencers wearing our brand.”

Let’s examine the top 3 luxury fashion houses’ Instagram accounts to see what makes them so visually addicting:

Louis Vuitton @LouisVuitton 10.4m followers

One of the first luxury brands to stream a fashion show online (as early as 2009!!!). Their Instagram gallery consists of celebrity first row at their fashion shows, lookbooks, ad campaigns, and street fashion shots. Their Instagram feed is anything but boring. Louis Vuitton’s feed shows you how their products are a way of demonstrating success. Louis Vuitton’s feed really embraces the new-ish video feature of Instagram and features a lot of 15-second videos on their feed, mainly from their recent “Volez, Voguez, Voyagez” exhibition at the Grand Palais in Paris, their fashion shows, and their new CSR campaign “Louis Vuitton for UNICEF #MAKEAPROMISE” to help children in urgent need.

Dior @Dior 9.3m followers

Dior arrived fashionably late to Instagram, announcing its Instagram debut on other social media platforms a month early, to ensure that they accumulate a fan base from the start; ensuring that their consumers anticipate content that will be engaging to them. This created a buzz around the brand and warranted popularity and engagement once the Instagram account launched. Compared to Louboutin and Louis Vuitton, Dior’s Instagram feed is a bit more commercial. They feature multiple ad campaigns on their feed, such as Charlize Theron’s ad for J’adore Eau de Toilette, The New Eau Lumière, Jennifer Lawrence’s campaign for the latest ‘Diorama’ bag, and Lawrence’s second campaign for the new Dior Addict Ultra-Gloss. Dior is also one of the limited few that uses Instagram paid marketing ads that show up as ‘Sponsored’ ads on people’s newsfeed, whether or not they are following the brand.

 

Christian Louboutin @Louboutinworld 7.4m followers

The Red Sole is Instagram’s most glamorous foot-candy. Louboutin’s account tops with user engagement and share-ability. Being as exclusive and splurge-worthy as it is, it has arguably one of the most user-generated content with almost anyone owning a pair posting a photo and tagging the brand. Louboutin, and other luxury brands, connect with people’s passions, which creates an emotional bond between the consumer and the brand. Christian Louboutin’s page is potentially the most artistic of the three, showcasing the classic Red soles as pieces of art. Their images are very colorful, creative, and most of all aspirational. When looking through Christian Louboutin’s Louboutin World, you really feel transported into an other universe that is so exclusive, only those who possess the shoe can be a part of.

What we can see from all three brands, which are representative of other luxury fashion brands, is that their Instagram feeds are anything but spontaneous. And though posting images and videos on Instagram is free, the editorials, shoots, and video production of these visuals can cost thousands of dollars. To be successful, brands cannot only rely on showcasing their lookbooks and products; they need to stress the importance and invest in visual storytelling that will communicate the vision of the brand and showcase a world of elegance, quality, class and style. In the end, luxury brands fulfill wants, not needs. When luxury brands utilize Instagram, their main and only goal should be to market their products to create desire and want.

References

  1. http://www.luxurydaily.com/fashion-brands-increase-instagram-interactions-by-77pc-report/
  2. http://www.paceco.com/luxury-fashion-brands-use-social-media/
  3. https://www.shopify.in/blog/14288561-how-to-build-a-massive-following-on-instagram

 

 

INSTAGRAM: THE MAKING OF A FASHION BLOGGERS

With the rise of Instagram, came the rise of social media influencers. Instead of turning to the pages of magazines, the Millenials now look to Instagram to find their inspiration and idols.

The social media influencers are bloggers, brand ambassadors, and models, amongst other things, who have come to fame often without agents, simply from attracting a huge amount of followers. Social media influencers, specifically fashion bloggers, have become the new “It girls” with huge cult followers. They set trends, agendas, and show us often orchestrated snippets of their life within the fashion industry.

Their huge liking and influence among their followers have become of value to fashion houses. Though fashion bloggers are certainly not paid the astonishing sums of $300,000 per post like Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid, fashion bloggers are still remunerated in one form or another.

So you might wonder, how does one become a famous fashion blogger? Well it’s easy actually; accumulate and maintain an immense network of followers and keep them interested. Though it might sound easy in theory, successful fashion bloggers need a sense of humor, a point of view, and to showcase their followers with parts of the fashion world that they do not have access to. Although both popular, Emily Skye and Leandra Medine take their influence in completely different directions – Emily Skye, a gorgeous fitness and swimwear model vs. Leandra Medine of The Man Repeller blog. After establishing a follower base, consistency becomes key. Followers are more likely to become loyal when the blogger uses specific and repetitive hashtags, which will keep their followers glued from week to week.

Instagram has allowed these fashion bloggers are lifestyle influencers to become famous without the help of agencies. It is also the platform where models are being discovered by talent scouts. Brands are keen for exposure and earned media, and so the more followers you have, the more influential you are, the more likely to be picked up by an agency or by a brand to become a brand ambassador. The tagging of brands and being reposted increases influencers’ follower base, with people flocking to these influencers for creative and aspirational content that isn’t labelled as a sales ad.

How is it that these influencers are making money? Influencers are cashing in when they promote brands in their posts. The amount of money one receives per post, depends on the level of value and influence that the blogger has, and how valuable their follower outreach is valuable to the brand. Bigger follower base does not mean bigger money. The key factor that makes an influencer valuable is the level of engagement that they receive from their followers. So for example, some influencers may have 300,000 followers but only 1,500 people engage with their posts. Brands are looking at the follower/engagement ratio, instead of follower count.

Sponsored Instagram posts are often seen as indirect earned media, as the influencers are being paid, whether monetarily or through products and services, but their posts are not perceived as advertisement. Thus, it is crucial for brands to critically select the influencers that are most capable of turning follower engagement into actual sales. The fashion bloggers’ feeds consists of various kinds of images: those that are obvious advertisements, to editorial posts, to completely candid and personal photos. Although some followers claim that bloggers deceive people with the product placement in their images, those are actually the most effective images that a blogger can have. This shows that the influencer has been so carefully selected by the brand that the blogger’s sponsorship of a product makes the product seem as a natural part of the blogger’s day.

What makes a fashion blogger successful is having a sense of authenticity. We go back to re-examine the idea of authenticity in the digital realm and we find that the most successful digital influencers are those that remain authentic, or work very very hard to stage authenticity within their posts. A trend that I have noticed among fashion bloggers is their attempt to seem absolutely normal, to show their followers normal parts of their day, to make themselves relatable to their followers. Eva Chen, fashion chief at Instagram says that “finding the things that are your signature moves sort of speak and posting them in different ways over and over again.”

As there are always two sides to a story, former Instagram model Essena O’Neill “came out” and said that her images did not represent real life and authentic pictures and that her photos were staged. This lead to others following in her footsteps and addressing the authenticity lines within the digital world.

As Instagram celebrities, fashion bloggers and digital influencers are changing the routes to fame, we ask ourselves, do we really hate the staged authenticity or have we become so accustomed to it that it’s almost impossible to click the “unfollow” button? Are fashion bloggers famous or infamous in today’s society?

INSTAGRAM: DEMOCRATIZING FASHION

Instagram is now overcrowded with fashion labels, aspirational accounts, models, and bloggers. Fashion houses are exploiting every level of the marketplace as an image library, a showcase, and a platform on which to set trends, but most importantly, an entryway into the consumer’s head. With half the users under the age of 25, and its candid visual identity, Instagram is making fashion and trends more accessible. What used to be a very closed and exclusive world has now become democratized and open to the public as a result of Instagram. There is a growing movement in the discourse on fashion, in terms of the application of democratic values to the ways in which we view and consume fashion.

Luxury fashion houses, though exclusive and limited, have always offered entry-level consumer products for the aspirational clients. This shows that in fashion, even luxury brands, need to be mass consumer brands in order to maximize revenue – as being really exclusive limits the opportunity for business growth. Today, luxury brands have adapted to mass media and globalization and have become more accessible than ever. Most, if not all, luxury brands, including Chanel are now active on social media, creating fast-fashion collaborations such as Balmain x H&M, public exhibitions such as Louis Vuitton “Volez, Voguez, Voyagez” and present in airports such as Hermès. Fashion’s luxury brands have mastered the balance between exclusivity and accessibility. Critics fear that this is upsetting what made these brands desirable and that perhaps, fashion has become too mass.

Luxury brands were skeptical of adopting social media into their brands at first. Just as some brands still refuse to sell their products online, they feared that being visible on the internet would take away from their mystique. In the past, aspirational consumers incapable of travel and closed off to information did not have access to luxury megahouses. For example, prices were never shown for luxury items, whereas now, blogs such as PurseBlog have forums where consumers and fans have access to almost anything relating to luxury brands. A community formed around the sharing of information that was not available and accessible before. Through social media, aspirational consumers are able to access these brands and digitally experience them.  The global consumer is online and connected and luxury brands cannot afford not being online.

Beyond their online presence, the biggest step that fashion luxury brands have taken towards democratizing the fashion industry is by opening up access to fashion shows during PFW, LFW, MFW, and NYFW.As we know, fashion shows have always been a crucial consumer-marketing tool, and are now so more than ever through Instagram. These shows were perhaps the most exclusive, closed off, and private part of the fashion industry. Only select editors, journalists and clients had access to these events. Today, partly, if not mainly due to the rise of Instagram and other social media platforms, which led rise to fashion bloggers, these shows have become almost completely a public showcase of the brand. There are many examples of this.

Websites like NowFashion are streaming live videos and photos to give the public insight into what the bloggers and editors are seeing at the shows. The likes of Elie Saab and Valentino are beginning to stream their shows online, even giving access to certain bloggers to live stream the show on their blogs. In 2015’s Fall NYFW, Riccardo Tisci of Givenchy opened the show to the general public, where approximately 1200 “real people” — mostly non-industry, non-celebrity civilians as well as students and faculty from local fashion schools — attended the show.

Following in his direction was Kanye West’s collection for Adidas is further disrupting the fashion industry. Just last month, West secured the world’s most famous arean, NY’s Madison Square Garden to host the Yeezy Season 3 show. Tickets were sold to both an industry and non-industry audience. With almost 20,000 people in attendance, including Naomi Campbell, The Kardashians, Anna Wintour, Olivier Rousteing of Maison Balmain and model Karlie Kloss amongst others, the show was almost streamed in cinemas worldwide, opening up the show to an audience of millions.

On the other hand, designer Tom Ford, known for his exclusivity, has decided to completely cancel this season’s fashion show in favor of one-on-one appointments with the press and buyers. As other luxury fashion brands are becoming more democratic and inclusive, Ford resorts to alternative ways of showcasing his collection to a select number of people, as he seeks demanding and sophisticated high-end consumers only.

Though some brands choose to remain closed off, shows are still by invitation only to the actual shows, but they are being streamed online by almost anyone from anywhere. If the shows are not streamed, the invitees to the shows are constantly updating their Instagram feeds, disclosing the show to their audience. After the shows, some brands choose to also display photos and videos from the show on their social media accounts. In the past, one would have had to wait for fashion magazines such as Vogue and Vanity Fair to release their issues for the normal consumer to have access to what happened during the show.

Not only are the shows being opened up to the public, fashion bloggers and even the brands themselves are giving the public access to footage of backstage and private after-parties events. This further allows the consumer to experience the brand as well as the brand culture and potentially connect with the brand, leading to brand loyalty by the consumer. Fashion luxury brands’ fast-fashion collaborations and exhibitions are manifestations of luxury brands’ testing their positions within the mass market. Will luxury megabrands begin putting on fashion shows more than twice a year? Will tickets be sold openly to the public, the way it is done with concerts? Will brands try to capitalize on the mass-market consumer by letting them experience than brand without owning their iconic and exclusive products? And lastly, has Instagram changed the fashion narrative?

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/11/fashion/new-york-fashion-week-smartphones-killing-off-runway-show.html?_r=0

http://wwd.com/fashion-news/retail-business/tom-ford-quits-the-catwalk-as-industry-targets-consumers-10300029/

INSTAGRAM: SETTING THE NEW FASHION AGENDA

Before the digitalization of our world, fashion magazines were considered the bible; where all fashion enthusiasts went to find out the latest trends in the industry. Today, fashion magazines are replaced by Instagram, the new fashion bible. Instagram, which started in 2010, is an online mobile app that allows users to share Polaroid-style images and 15-second videos, with a network of more than 400 million users worldwide.

Instagram is now overcrowded with fashion labels, aspirational accounts, models, and bloggers. Fashion houses are exploiting every level of the marketplace as an image library, a showcase, and a platform on which to set trends, but most importantly, an entryway into the consumer’s head. With half the users under the age of 25, and its candid visual identity, Instagram is making fashion and trends more accessible. What used to be a very closed and exclusive world has now become democratized and open to the public as a result of Instagram. This topic will be further explored in a following blog post.

It is no longer PFW, NYFW, LFW or the red carpets that set the trends; Instagram is now fashion’s new trendsetter. Brands are seeking out models with a large follower base on social medias, specifically Instagram, and are selecting models with personalities that match the brand’s identity in order for the consumers and followers base to find the brand more relatable.  Models such as Cara Delevingne, Kendall Jenner, Gigi Hadid, Karlie Kloss and Joan Smalls are some of the best examples of this.

Instagram has almost become a brand extension, which invites the interactions of consumers, which directly influence designs and brands’ collections. It is the spontaneous images that give brands insights into the consumer’s lives and allows for a two-way interaction where the consumer is also able to view more of the company values and cultures that they choose to consume. According to a Forrester Research study, Instagram remains the preferred social media platform onto which users interact with brands. In terms of competition, Instagram is more popular than Facebook, YouTube and Pinterest. An L2 study in the New York Times further reinforces this point by showing that Instagram generates 25 times the level of engagement of other social media platforms.

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On Instagram, people are drawn in by eye-catching or seducing images, which are often different than the things they will purchase. Imagery is one of the most crucial part to online shopping and with Instagram’s visual platform, consumers are enticed to purchase what they see. Instagram creates desire; often showing people things they either cannot afford, or have never thought of or seen before. With the slow introduction of “buy now” options and ads, Instagram is a social marketplace that persuades customers to purchase the items they see. For these reasons, brands are now more than ever, investing and interested in their social media presence as it is what creates sales.

To think of it, Instagram is what people used to call ‘window shopping;’ where consumers used to physically go to shopping malls and stores to view collections before deciding to purchase. Now, this is done from the comfort of their homes, on their smartphones, and specifically on Instagram, where they are able to browse virtually any brand they would like. Not only will they find owned media, but also bloggers and aspirational accounts that might further persuade the consumer into turning their ‘window shopping’ to actual sales.

L2 reports that 99% of their top fashion brands are on Instagram, up from 75% in 2013. Luxury brands are predominately the ones with the purchasing power to ad buy on Instagram, as the average monthly cost is between $100,000 and $500,000, according to Digiday Media Company. However, this is quickly changing with the new advertisement options that Instagram has recently introduced. This is a topic that will further be explored in a following blog post.

Now that Instagram has allowed for a dialogue between the brands and the consumers, designers are tuning in to what the consumers is asking for by browsing the immense image library of aspirational content created by the consumers that brands want to use and consumers want to purchase. In an interview in the New York Times, Rebecca Minkoff, one of the most digital-savvy brands is listening to consumer demands made on Instagram, “If a customer tells me, ‘I like a bag with gunmetal hardware, can you include it?’ I might,” Ms. Minkoff said. “If I can get 25 girls to request it, I will do the production.” Minkoff further adds that she wants to make girls feel as though they are part of the creative process; which in turn creates brand loyalty. She further notes that brands want to be where the consumers are and those consumers love Instagram because of its visual and easy-to-consume nature.

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Other brands are also following this trend; high-end fashion brand Christian Louboutin launched#louboutinworld, an image library found on its website that links directly to its Instagram page.

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Instagram’s biggest problem remains the lack of direct path to purchase, but it is being addressed by the company. They have recently introduced clickable ads that link to brands’ e-commerce websites, as an aim to create a direct path to sales. Rumors have it that a ‘buy now’ option will soon follow. For now, Instagram remains a platform for the creation of aspirational content and consumer-brand engagement. Premium brands such as Burberry and Michael Kors are already purchasing ads, but other designers are slow to follow. Internal Marketing Service, Curalate, found that in 2015, only 5 months after fall 2014’s NYFW, there was an increase of 193% in photos shared on Instagram during that week. This is an expression of just how valuable Instagram is to fashion fans.

Brands and fashion houses need to be paying attention and taking advantage of their social media platforms, especially Instagram, or they will most likely be missing out on more than just social engagement. Since Instagram is the major source direction consumers to e-commerce websites, brands may lose out on revenue if they do not have an active and effective social media presence. Instagram is a progressive platform that is a gateway to unique experiences that can be shared to a global audience. Instagram is a global fashion mood board that everyone, anywhere in the world, can contribute to.

References

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/15/fashion/fashions-latest-muse-instagram.html?ref=global-home&_r=1

http://digiday.com/brands/fashion-beauty-brands-instagram/

http://blog.curalate.com/2015/09/21/4-ways-instagram-has-changed-fashion-marketing/