Fashion. It’s a passion, it’s an addiction – and it’s a $1.3 trillion global industry. And the share of online spending on fashion is now outpacing overall digital sales.
To make a dent in this highly competitive and noisy industry, it can be tempting to blast your customers and audiences constantly with sales and discounts in an attempt to lure them away from the other guys.
But slow down a minute. Racing your competitors on price, and price only, is racing them to the bottom. Fashion consumers want the things they wear to reflect their values, lifestyles, and sense of individuality.
We’re working in a time where cutting-edge technology, combined with smart strategy, can help fashion brands forge true relationships with their customers. And create a sense of trust and loyalty that keeps them coming back to see what you can offer them next.
To turn your customers—and would-be customers—into a “tribe” of loyal followers and repeat purchasers, make sure your brand is doing at least SOME of the following:
Today’s consumer wants to feel like their favorite brands “get” them. And to create that feeling, you just can’t trumpet price messages at them all day long. Content marketing helps fashion brands sell more than just products. It helps them sell an overall lifestyle that appeals to customers … and where the products naturally live.
Non-clothing related blog posts and articles about activities and social issues your customers care about help create a sense of buy-in. A feeling that, “these guys get me.”
Anthropologie, for example, offers recipes and stories that go deeper into themes around fashion and design. And Forever 21 talks to its millennial audience with plenty of hashtags, and even provides helpful workout tips.
You can even extend the lifestyle experience into the real world. Converse set up recording studios in major markets like Brooklyn, Boston, San Francisco and Los Angeles, where musicians can apply to record their music for free … and document the process. What does it have to do with shoes? A lot of Converse sneaker wearers are young and passionate about music—either as players or fans. And you can’t get much deeper into that world than opening up a recording studio.
Making the effort to build that extra trust, camaraderie and understanding with your customer may make the difference between them buying your item … and waiting for the cheaper knockoff.
Encourage customers to talk to you. AND LISTEN.
Content is a two-way street. Today’s (largely millennial) shopper doesn’t just want to be talked at. They want to share their stories, too. And inside their stories is a wealth of content your other consumers will enjoy. There’s also valuable clues and information that — if you use them – could help you develop new products and target new audiences. (Know what Converse’s recording studios are doing … besides helping musicians achieve their dreams? Cranking out tons of user content.)
And while you’re listening, listen to how your customers want to be treated.
If you know your friend never answers her email … you don’t email her. Same should go for your customers. Give them the opportunity somewhere in your checkout process or other communications to let you know the way they prefer to be messaged to—and how frequently. Then, don’t deviate from the script they’ve set up for you. The extra level of respect and thoughtfulness will translate into greater loyalty and appreciation from your customers—and better sales.
Offer a Great Loyalty Program
Today’s apparel shopper likes—no, expects—to be recognized and rewarded for spending their money with you. And while more casual or fast-fashion brands have always known the value of Loyalty Programs, luxury brands are catching on, realizing that loyalty programs don’t make them, or their customers look cheap. The high-end outdoor apparel brand KUIU already thought their customers were as loyal as they could possibly be. After all, they could point to plenty of repeat customers. But once they instituted their loyalty program, the value of their repeat customers who joined shot up 38 percent … and they shopped 17 percent more!
Turn Lookbooks, Style Guides, and Videos into Shopping Vehicles
You’ve already spent the time, money and effort creating beautiful imagery in the form of lookbooks and style guides. When you have the technology to connect those images to the SKUs contained therein, you can do all kinds of fun and profitable things. Like making the items clickable so people are tempted to buy them when they see them in relation to each other. Or offering limited-time extra loyalty points to people who respond to an Instagram post.
And to really have some fun, associate those SKUs with a video. Hire an influencer to give a tutorial using a few of your items and offer double loyalty points or special deals on the items only used in that video.
Make Smart Recos…Just Like a Friend Would
Sure, it’s easy for a fashion company to know that a customer bought something from them. That’s enough to get a customer on a mailing list and shoot them a catalog a couple of times a year. But when you use smarter technology to capture and exploit more product-specific purchase data, that’s when you can kick a relationship into high gear:
- At the very minimum, you won’t annoy customers by trying to sell them items that they’ve already bought.
- But when you can understand your customer at the category level, you can do things like encourage a frequent t-shirt buyer to try another product line like accessories or shoes.
- And understanding buyer behavior at the SKU level allows you to send even more relevant messages, like recommending the perfect belt to go with a newly purchased pair of pants—just in time for the weekend!
Turn your Customers into Salespeople with Referral Programs
You’ve got customers who love you, and your products. And they love to talk about you. Referral programs are an easy way to reward customers for turning their friends into buyers. Once a customer buys something, ask them to email or text a friend about that or a related item. If the friend buys, the original customer gets points! Birchbox has just such a program for its beauty products … and it’s helped them grow from 200 to over 1 million subscribers and 4 million total customers.
Help Customers feel like they’re Making a Difference
Today’s fashion consumer is more socially aware than ever. They care about the impact their purchase choices make on the environment and their places of origin. And they want to know that the companies they buy from have a conscious. Helping them feel like they’re “doing good” when they buy from you will keep them coming back. Just remember, when you institute a social responsibility program, you need to follow two important steps. First: come up with a great idea. Second, make it EASY for customers to participate.
The Honest Company’s Social Goodness initiative supports a variety of charitable causes, assuring shoppers that their purchases help “fund access to safe products and advances research and education that ultimately drives positive social impact we all can be proud of.” And Nike has a revolutionary sneaker recycling program. Worn-out sneakers dropped off at their stores get ground up and turned into a material that goes into surfaces for running tracks—and even gets repurposed into parts of new Nike products!