Fashion Marketing: how to do it successfully through digital

Fashion Marketing: a constantly developing professional field that today represents a great challenge. It is a decline of Fashion Marketing among the most fascinating for those who aspire to become a Web Marketing Specialist in this sector. It also has another, inestimable, merit: it produces professional figures that are in great demand on the job market.

What is Fashion Marketing?

There are channels and specificities of approach to the fashion industry that I will address schematically in this article: I will draw an evolutionary map of the Digital market for Fashion, outlining skills, knowledge, and potential roles to navigate and choose from. A necessary premise: the terms fashion and luxury are often mistakenly used as adjacent or even synonymous fields.

In this article I will use the term fashion to describe the entire sector linked to specific personal goods (clothing, leather goods, eyewear, perfumery, etc.), oriented towards innovation in design from season to season (an important difference from the continuity of luxury) and which makes the brand a sign of recognition of specific creativity and production. All this with a medium-high and high positioning.

To give a comprehensive overview of the broad concept of Fashion Marketing, we find it useful to break it down as follows:

  • Start with a quick and well-structured indication of how the fashion market (seen from both the consumer and the workers’ side) is decisively exploiting digital marketing.
  • continue by analyzing a typical Fashion Business Marketing Strategy scheme. It is an alchemic recipe that I will reveal to you straight from the secrets of those who already work in fashion.
  • conclude with a map to be used as both work orientation (highlighting opportunities for specialization) and operational orientation (a kind of Digital Marketing Plan to be filled in when needed).

Fashion Marketing and Digital

Until yesterday, a few years ago, insiders (including the media) almost opposed the combination of digital and fashion, in the light of the typical purchasing process for a good that, if not entirely voluptuary, is in any case highly emotional.

It seemed almost nonsensical to propose oneself online by disavowing the “ritual of the senses” (sight, smell, touch, hearing, and sometimes even taste) typical of fashion, therefore:

  • without direct customer and product contact
  • without a visit by the brand’s fans to its places of worship (the shops)
  • without a human relationship between a boutique guest and sales consultants.

Today we are at the culmination of the process of revolutionizing these steps, in favor of the digitalization of the fashion world, on the basis of certain contextual changes that no business could oppose, lest it is swept away by the market.

fashion marketing skills

Let us analyse these steps together, which obviously apply not only to the sector we are considering, and which we must therefore all the more understand in order to then be able to implement an effective digital fashion marketing strategy.

Here are the highlights to consider today:

1. web marketing has now become the gateway to the new decision-making phase of the end customer: Today, more than 80 percent of shoppers inquire online before completing a purchase (Google´s ZMOT: the Zero Moment of Truth); 2. web marketing represents a new holistic approach to selling, in which both the website and the actual e-commerce have overtaken the online versus the offline competition, becoming one with the physical sales areas. 3. web marketing is now a winning alternative to traditional communication plans, initially only for cost reasons, but now also for contact skills and refined yet precise segmentation techniques.

For tomorrow, the world of Fashion is already in great turmoil, looking for new narrative and commercial opportunities, to enhance products and brands, to fascinate people all over the world, and face the pressures on costs and margins in order to defend its own positions of prestige and wealth. Fashion Marketing devoted to Digital is and will increasingly be a reality to be reckoned with.

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Fashion Marketing and Human Satisfaction

In the coherent and solid construction of a Digital Fashion Marketing activity, in addition to all the rules and considerations typical of the specific subject and of Marketing more generally, the uniqueness of the sector also comes into play.

A company that positions itself in the medium and medium-high segment must skilfully blend many very different ingredients, which can be summarised in the model of human satisfaction, which has surpassed the traditional model of customer satisfaction and which, through the symbolic charge and narrative capacity of fashion, finds excellent exemplification.

The customer becomes a human being tout court with three dimensions that, in fashion, are of equal importance:

1. the emotional dimension: I take as an example the purchase of a high jewelry product from a fashion brand. Often the price positioning of these creations competes with that of unbranded precious metal jewelry. How can such an unbalanced value for money be justified? The value of the mix of Brand, design, stylist, and worlds of reference, should enhance the emotions of the person, have the ability to kidnap the potential buyer from his reasoning, and take him beyond the naked assessment of the real value of the good compared to the purchase price.

2. the social dimension: driven by an emotion shared by one’s peers (friends, family, colleagues…) or people of reference (fashion bloggers, celebrities, journalists, media…) it is vital for a fashion brand to arouse sociality in the broadest sense of the term. Without going back to the offline world, the desire to wear an outfit or accessory and post a photo of oneself on social networks can be exhibited. The likes, shares, and web reputation become concrete methods of measuring brand strength.

3. the rational dimension: it remains, in any case, inevitable that a person, with certain spending power and life experience, taste, and passion for what he or she is choosing, have high expectations of what he or she is buying both offline (e.g. the product must have minimum quality characteristics in terms of materials, style ..) and online (consistency of image, tone of voice in the narrative, channels, and ways of presiding over them ..).

It is therefore indispensable for a brand to start from in-depth knowledge and self-awareness, before being able to approach a large digital audience. This will make it possible to avoid flops and inconsistencies that, in the fashion world, become difficult if not impossible to recover from.

A typical fashion marketing recipe that many christen “Brand Identity Card” comes to the rescue. That is, a formal document that clearly and realistically describes the company in all it’s identifying aspects:

  • brand
  • product sold
  • type of distribution
  • stylistic positioning
  • reference market.

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Which Digital Strategy for Fashion Marketing?

Having described the brand in all its traits, we now open the real phase of Fashion Marketing, by building a strategy and planning the right mix of channels and tools for a successful Digital Strategy.

Doing Web Strategy involves seeking maximum coherence between brand identity and the authenticity of how the brand itself is conveyed to all its audiences. One must, without compromise, trace the online identity that one wants to design. The starting dimension is positioning. Wanting to simplify, the most correct representation of the brand in terms of DNA has these three alternatives:

  • Product excellence (e.g. Swarovski: the brand name identifies the very material from which jewelry, clothes, shoes, and watches are actually made).
  • Brand value (e.g. Salvatore Ferragamo, a brand that ensures craftsmanship and quality in the manufacture of any product bearing that label).
  • Ability to suggest possible worlds, a true lifestyle (e.g. Diesel: wherever this name appears, everything takes on a unique and identifying meaning).

From this point on, storytelling, the backbone of digital fashion marketing, must unfold naturally, inherently consistent, and credibly passionate.

mix of channels

The mix of channels and tools, through which to disseminate the brand narrative, must thus be constructed accordingly with the attention and relevance necessary to evolve the customer/offering relationship into a fan/waite. This means:

  • Recruit new contacts by investigating and exploring the web for new audience possibilities.
  • Search for motivation to win contacts to be retained aimed at serial or quasi-serial buyers who are not yet familiar with the brand.
  • Working on loyal contacts, continuing to pamper them and confirming expectations and expectations, surprising them with new improvements and involvement.

I would like to explain all the channels and tools of digital fashion marketing in detail.

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CRM and Email marketing

According to “E-commerce Pulse” (Custora) research, the inbox accounted for 19.8% of online orders worldwide in the third quarter of this year, compared to 14.2% in the same period last year. Organic search by brand accounted for a slightly higher share but with flat growth.

Social media contributed 2.1% to web purchases, compared to 1.5% last year. Although not have the allure of the much-vaunted and supported Facebook or Instagram, Fashion Digital Marketing has in email Marketing a channel to achieve important results at low costs.

To do structured, numerically relevant, and customized email marketing on diversified profiles (man, woman, style, etc.) requires a rich database in terms of the number of registered profiles, master data, and correctly correlated purchase data.

This derives from the indispensable contribution of the offline world (in the shop) which is added to the online. The typical steps to build a database are:

  1. Introduction of a profiling system, with a quantitative focus: you need to create a collection of the highest number of customers to start having an adequate population of profiles with respect to your volume of business and buyers.
  2. Quality profile enhancement, with an email address and mobile phone number data.
  3. Use of a real CRM with all kinds of data, ranging from standard recalls, e.g. brand newsletters, to highly segmented communications.

Social Media

Today, social media are to all intents and purposes a must in fashion marketing strategy. The most followed brands on the web are often those belonging to the fashion sector, precisely because of their ability to engage emotionally, narratively, and visually. Moreover, the speed with which creative and marketing managers have made social rules their own has supported brands by giving them better visibility and sharing.

There have been many success stories in recent years, especially in the area of Social Commerce Fashion. I will now explain the support of individual social media in fashion marketing:

Facebook

If in the offline world TV remains the queen of channels, online Facebook is the ideal tool to achieve the numbers essential to the ambitious spread of one’s Fashion Digital Strategy. The evolution that started with the mix of copy and photos (still today the appreciated and unique point of social), today has delighted the minds of Fashion Marketing teams with videos and live broadcasts. Invaluable and irreplaceable.

Facebook remains the first among socials in terms of popularity and marketing budget to be invested, considering all the possibilities of hypersegmented advertising.

Instagram and Pinterest

These are the most “fashionable social media in fashion” of all. Centered in fact on the immediacy and expressiveness of images, with the formats they allow iconicity to be added to the worlds suggested by brands.

Doing Fashion Web Marketing means knowing how to govern Instagram and Pinterest with flair (directness and stories on the one hand, quality and coherence on the other) but also commercial lucidity (the two socials in their shoppable functionality open up excellent hints and opportunities for additional sales that have not yet been expressed).

Snapchat

Fashion is the creative industry of the new. This is embodied in the fact that the youngest customer targets remain the most pampered, studied, and taken up by brands in order to accredit themselves as the trend of the moment, desirable design, and the best buying proposition for lovers of timeless style.

Snapchat is an all-millennial territory: knowing how to be on it and successfully is an indispensable pedigree for the Web Marketing of a Fashion Brand.

Youtube

If the visual dimension in the fashion industry is undoubtedly the crucial one for telling the product and its storytelling, video is its ultimate expression. Youtube has in fact realized the dream of many brands: the construction of their own exclusive visual channel in which they can fully express their values and enchant surfers.

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Digital PR

A seemingly frivolous and poorly measurable item of Fashion Web Marketing finds instead dimension and measurement in the State of Influencer Marketing research report that surveyed over 5,000 marketing, communication, and PR experts in North America and Europe since 2017.

Here are some numbers from the year 2021, to be analyzed bearing in mind that as much as 25% comes from the fashion sector:

  • 90 percent of the respondents consider influencer marketing to be a real form of marketing, which is particularly popular in the fashion industry.
  • 67% of respondents measure the ROI from their Influencer Marketing campaigns
  • 83% of companies take the resources for Influencer Marketing campaigns right out of their marketing budget
  • 67% of respondents prefer their Influencer Marketing to work on specific campaigns rather than in a continuous flow

SEO and SEM

Being able to enjoy well-known and desired brands transforms the disciplines of SEO and SEM in a very peculiar way. Essentially, one starts with the logic of presiding over the best positions if one is a leader in a given field.

Branded searches are certainly important, and there are also very particular ones typical of those in the fashion industry: the most important global events (Fashion Week, prestigious trade fairs, or particular happenings), the name of the designer, celebrities and influencers become keywords to be exploited in order to correlate in an important and winning manner. In a way an extension of the work of Digital PR.

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Other Digital Tools at the Service of Fashion Marketing

There are further levers in fashion web marketing that will increasingly develop considering the trend of the personalized relationship that the contemporary personal customer increasingly demands as a crucial motivation to purchase:

Chat

Apps such as Whatsapp are everyday tools for the private individual, which are gradually finding their way into the business sphere as well. The watchword: relationship.

Thanks to the appropriate WhatsApp business version, interesting declinations of Whatsapp as direct contact, for example, between Brand and/or Boutique versus customer for direct contact and immediate feedback for any kind of assistance or ad hoc request are now the order of the day.

Suffice it to think in this sense of a personal shopping service or after-sales assistance. An interesting way of segmenting is to create chat groups, with different colored labels, to manage events or activities tailored to that group of people.

Online services

At the same time, web marketing has expanded not only the avenues of communication but also the service and product attributes of fashion companies by providing new opportunities and motivations for use and thus purchase.

From the comfort of home, being able to customize your favorite trainers? It only seems like a nice purchase option, but for giants such as Adidas or Nike, it represents an important lever of turnover and visibility that is now more strategic and commercial than ever.

Online/offline services

The integration of the real world and the digital world is the solution to a dichotomy that has always been on the table of modern Fashion Marketing Managers. In an omnichannel business perspective, the checkout where one pays becomes ideally unique while the contact points between brands with their offer and people with their desires multiply.

For example, pick and pay (order online and pick up and pay in the physical shop) is now a concrete and widespread example of the expanded options this merger brings to potential buyers. In addition to undoubted advantages for brands: not least sustaining in-store traffic of new or digitally oriented customers.

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