In today’s fast paced social media age, fashion is in a constant flux. High fashion labels are constantly facing the pressure to present something new each season, something that will ensure that they are ‘seen’, and not lost amidst the crowd. Today, it is not enough that a fashion label just creates clothes and showcases it on the runway or in stores, it has to compete to be seen and faces tough competition from other up and coming labels. Today’s consumer wants to see things instantly, and if not, they move on quickly.
This means investing in huge amounts in marketing alone, raising the starting capita of fashion start ups to a higher amount today than ever before. Failing to do so and remaining relevant in the consumer’s eyes can result in the demise of your company.
So how do traditional fashion houses adapt and cope with social media and e-commerce today?
Born decades before social media, brands like Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, have fostered an image of exclusivity in their marketing campaigns. Social media and its inclusivity, on hindsight, does not seem to bode well for such brands.
Some, as with Chanel, initially were resistant to the change, but were eventually convinced that social media and the internet was going nowhere. Some failed to pick it up quick enough, such as BCBG Maxria, who relied mostly on brick-and-mortar sales, and eventually went bankrupt, or Ralph Lauren, who has recognised its need to refocus its e-commerce operations after announcing it will close its retail store on Fifth ave., New York due to dismal sales.
Some labels are thriving better than others. Gucci is a prime example of a fashion label that has adapted well to the currents of social media.
But this wasn’t always the case. In the early 2015s, Italian luxury brand Gucci, born in 1921, suffered from poor sales, under Frida Giannini, struggling with the new reality of the internet and social media. Furthermore, Gucci was associated with bad taste — it was associated with gawdyness and outdatedness, and ultimately unrelatable. No one wanted to buy Gucci, and the company faced near brankruptcy
But fast forward to today, Gucci has experienced a quick turnabout, with 30% increase in profits since 2016, and has even been named the top luxury brand in 2017. It is also named the top brand in the study of social media influencers in 2016.
February 2017 Top 10 Luxury Brands, Year-Over-Year Growth, Earned Media Value
Gucci: 115 percent, $61,798,514
Chanel: -1 percent, $46,082,425
Dior: 49 percent, $42,288,157
Saint Laurent: -12 percent, $33,483,712
Dolce & Gabbana: 130 percent, $28,277,158
Under Alessandro Michele, Gucci’s appointed creative director since mid-2015s, Gucci embraced its maximalist, romantic aesthetic that created covetable, iconic “subversive geek chic” pieces, bringing it back to the spotlight.
But its not just the clothes that account for its success. Gucci experienced a revamp in terms of style, imagery, and embraced a more tech-savvy approach towards their marketing. Indeed, a major component of its success today is attributed to its innovative digital strategy and marketing.
Gucci’s social media analytics
With data using the Talkwalker social media analytics platform
Gucci’s primary platform of interest is instagram, followed by Twitter, and online news. Currently, it has 13.7M followers on instagram
Brand engagement is close to 900k for the GucciSS16 collection
Today’s millennials — people who have grown up with cellphones and the internet — care more about experiences rather than buying things. Thus, as a brand today, one needs to have meaningful engagement with their audience, and how you advertise to them must resonate. (source)
Gucci has very innovative social media campaigns, and has expertly weaved different social media platforms to craft a strong brand presence.
Its success it largely due to the creation of a lifestyle that people want to emulate. It marries editorial content with e-commerce, evident through the numerous campaigns and collaborations with many contemporary artists of today.
It has also con solidified its cool factor through its numerous collaborations, namely photographer-model-it-girl Petra Collins who’s dreamy aesthetic has shaped many of Gucci’s campaigns.
Gucci was one of the first brands to engage on Flipboard, a social network and social news aggregator, and completely revamped their website to make it more user friendly and suitable across multiple platforms. This digital tailoring, which favours visuals over functionality, resulted in a 150% increase in traffic.
It understands and cleverly utilises the visual nature of such platforms.
Across all channels, it posts content regularly, which generates constant engagement. It also posts relevant content, such as behind the scenes shoots, which most consumers would not get a chance to see.
Facebook Live has also been used as a live stream for their fashion shows. For instance, on the day they shared their live stream on September 21, there was a marked growth in page fans on their facebook.
Gucci’s social media campaigns
In its latest campaign, Gucci teamed up with GQ to produce a film series with up and coming male artists and actors of today. The full film series is available on Gucci’s website, and short snippets were posted on Gucci’s instagram and instagram stories. There is even a function of “swipe up to see more” on instagram stories that directs the user to their website to watch the entire film.
#tfwgucci: a collaborative meme project
This was a recent meme-inspired campaign to launch the new collection of luxury watches under the brand. Gucci collaborated with some of the internet’s most celebrated meme artists such as @youvegotmale, @textsfromyourexistentialist, @scariestbugever and visual artists like Olaf Breuning, and posted these memes on their social media platforms. This sparked some controversy over the internet — was gucci trying too hard? IT was certainly a risky move for such an established luxury brand. Either way, it produced for hugely entertaining content due to the different perspectives in content and the artists that produced it.
This also resonated with a younger fan base on instagram, many who would not be able to afford the brand, but see it as aspirational. This builds a bond with the younger audience as future consumers, also positively differentiating itself from other brands.
How did it perform? Well, 2 of the posts became the top performing posts of all time, with a high engagement rate. Clearly, Gucci is doing something right.
#24hourace — Video project SS16
Artists, including Sue de Beer, James Kerr, were asked to produce 60 second videos inspired by Gucci’s Ace sneakers, to be posted on Gucci’s instagram account. There was also a 24 hour takeover on snapchat by the artists from around the world to illustrate and explain how they collaborated with Gucci, and a micro-site to showcase all the work here. Starting in NY and ending in Tokyo, the snapchat takeover was truly a full day and global experience.
another insta-initiative, Photographer-It-girl-model Petra Collins took over the its Snapchat while shooting the Fall 2016 campaign in Japan.
These a just a few examples of the collaborations and partnerships that Gucci has undertaken in the past 2 years alone. Through such partnerships, Gucci has been able to expand its reach (for instance, I only took notice of Gucci when one of my favourite photographers, Petra Collins, started collaborating with them and producing amazing work). Furthermore, it has ensured that it stays relevant in today’s fast paced world.
The digital strategies are able to weave a cohesive story around Gucci and its numerous ad campaigns.
Such campaigns are effectively solidifying its cool factor, showing that Gucci isn’t afraid to be innovative. With a unified content strategy, it ensures that its content and posts feel native to each platform but are also instantly recognisable across all of them. Such careful curating ensures the distinct brand presence not only online, but offline as well.