The So­cial Net­work

So­cial me­dia is revo­lu­tion­is­ing the ways in which ap­parel brands are con­nect­ing with cus­tomers, both old and new. Anurima Das of­fers a glimpse of this e-trend.

Apparel - - Contents -

Ex­plor­ing so­cial me­dia mar­ket­ing, which is chang­ing the ways in which fash­ion brands con­nect with cus­tomers

A few decades ago, the idea of shop­ping was lim­ited to tak­ing a trip to the mar­ket and then se­lect­ing clothes af­ter lengthy rounds of trial. The tra­di­tional shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ence in In­dia was first al­tered with the ar­rival of malls and multi-brand out­lets, where you could shop for all your favourite brands, un­der one roof. In sub­se­quent years, the shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ence now be­came as easy as plac­ing an or­der in just one click.

SO­CIAL ME­DIA HAS OPENED A NEW ROAD FOR BRANDS TO THINK CRE­ATIVELY, SO THAT THEY COULD REACH A WHOLE NEW HITHERTO UN­TOUCHED SEG­MENT OF CON­SUMERS, AND WIDEN THEIR REACH.

A fairly mod­ern and re­cent phe­nom­e­non, on­line shop­ping was given a fur­ther boost by a fel­low dig­i­tal ally - So­cial Me­dia. Var­i­ous so­cial me­dia plat­forms have made di­rect con­tact with con­sumers and brought the world closer in ev­ery way. Fash­ion and ap­parel brands have utilised these on­line plat­forms to their ad­van­tage to mar­ket, pro­mote, con­nect, and sell their prod­ucts. So­cial me­dia has opened a new road for brands to think cre­atively, so that they could reach a whole new hitherto un­touched seg­ment of con­sumers, and widen their reach.

SIGN­ING UP

“I started with my col­lab­o­ra­tions a year back when I first launched my blog page. Even when I was look­ing to reach out to brands and con­sumers us­ing my blog, In­sta­gram and Face­book have been my first pri­or­ity. Af­ter ev­ery brand pro­mo­tion, I gain fol­low­ers along with cus­tomer queries, which I hap­pily pass on to the brands. So­cial me­dia does help in cross pro­mo­tion, to a great ex­tent. It can't bring a 100 per cent con­ver­sion and we can surely not com­pletely ex­pect it to do so, be­cause ul­ti­mately it's a ‘so­cial’ plat­form and peo­ple gen­er­ally don't come with the mind­set to buy all the time. How­ever, so­cial me­dia is very re­lat­able and thus it helps the brand to tar­get the right au­di­ence,” ex­plains stylist and blog­ger, In­gela Biswas of Pretcurry fame. In­gela fur­ther adds. “For me, it has just been a lit­tle over a year, so it’s hard to give you a proper suc­cess or con­ver­sion graph. But, so far, things have been only look­ing up. I have suc­cess­fully col­lab­o­rated with brands such as Lat­a­sita, Mi­crone­sium, Okhai, Suta, and RiniSeal, etc., to name a few and these are some of my favourites too. I have brands such as Nic­co­bar, Dood­lage, to name a few, on my wish list. I have def­i­nitely learnt a lot. From my per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence, In­sta­gram is one of the best plat­forms for a new brand/page to show­case their col­lec­tions to the world. One more thing that I would like to add here is that man­ag­ing a so­cial me­dia pres­ence is not easy. It re­quires lots of fol­low up work and good strat­egy to tar­get the cor­rect au­di­ence and spread aware­ness. But so­cial me­dia is def­i­nitely a very good plat­form to con­nect with prospec­tive clients.” Much like In­gela, many blog­gers to­day col­lab­o­rate with brands on so­cial me­dia to show­case their new col­lec­tions. This is a fresher way of giv­ing the cus­tomers and brand loy­als a real view of the prod­uct and how it will look on real peo­ple. You can pick and choose based on pho­to­graphs of real mo­ments. This in­flu­ences buy­ing de­ci­sions and helps us gain aware­ness about brands that we may not have re­ally known.

An­other in­ter­est­ing phe­nom­e­non is the use of so­cial me­dia by brands that are less ac­ces­si­ble to the mid­dle to lower in­come cat­e­gories of con­sumers. In­ter­na­tional and de­signer brands have taken the so­cial me­dia route through celebri­ties and in­flu­ence buy­ing choices by ap­peal­ing to peo­ple’s ad­mi­ra­tion of pub­lic fig­ures, and by po­si­tion­ing even reg­u­lar fash­ion mo­ments into ‘spe­cial at­tire’ mo­ments.

DE­SIGNED FOR SUC­CESS

Mar­ket­ing us­ing the con­ven­tional route is ex­pen­sive and fo­cus­ing ads to a par­tic­u­lar tar­get group can some­times se­verely back­fire, too. But with so­cial me­dia, your tar­get nar­rows down to the right peo­ple brows­ing and fol­low­ing the pages, brands, blog­gers, stylists, and celebri­ties of their choice. Plac­ing your brand at these points of con­tact will surely in­crease vis­i­bil­ity, if not ac­count for a di­rect sale. “We have been ac­tive on so­cial me­dia since the last six years, and we are con­nected with the world on In­sta­gram, Face­book and Pin­ter­est,” says de­signer Nilesh Parashar of Nau­tanky fame. “Over the years, so­cial me­dia has helped our brand to reach out to a global au­di­ence. Our prod­uct images are avail­able on­line on each plat­form, and are viewed by ac­tive users. These po­ten­tial clients can ask ques­tions re­gard­ing the fab­ric, de­tail­ing on cloth, and the price, etc., So­cial me­dia makes us highly ac­ces­si­ble to our global clien­tele, and not only does it help them to place or­ders with ease, but they can also in­stantly re­solve their doubts us­ing these plat­forms, be­fore mak­ing a buy­ing de­ci­sion. Our ac­tive pres­ence has in­creased our sales by up to 30 per cent over the years,” says Parashar.

Like Parashar, many de­sign­ers rang­ing from Sabyasachi Mukher­jee, Masaba Gupta, Ritu Ku­mar, Ro­hit Bal, to the gen next league of de­sign­ers, are all a part of the so­cial me­dia mar­ket­ing rev­o­lu­tion. They reg­u­larly re­lease teaser cam­paigns of their new col­lec­tions, post at­trac­tive of­fers on their sea­son’s best, and show­case celebri­ties wear­ing their out­fits to dif­fer­ent events and oc­ca­sions to let the world know their brand is in vogue and trendy. RISE OF THE UN­DER­DOGS Apart from the big­ger brands com­ing to promi­nence, there are the lesser known bou­tiques and home busi­nesses that have re­cently gained promi­nence and vis­i­bil­ity, thanks to so­cial me­dia.

So­cial me­dia plat­forms are not ex­clu­sive – they of­fer a demo­cratic space to ev­ery­one look­ing to con­nect with an­other – all it re­quires for a brand to de­mand a place in this e-mar­ket is a sta­ble in­ter­net con­nec­tion. Us­ing clever tac­tics to grab at­ten­tion, brands can cre­ate a pos­i­tive buzz around their name, even if they are lesser known or rel­a­tively new or niche. One such ex­clu­sive brand cater­ing to a very par­tic­u­lar seg­ment is a sari brand on In­sta­gram and Face­book called Sa­ree Haat. The owner of this brand, Mayu­rak­shi Chat­ter­jee had re­cently put up a post ex­plain­ing why she would al­ways want to con­tinue build­ing her base us­ing so­cial me­dia. She said that she feels that the en­tire on­line com­mu­nity she has built a con­nec­tion with through her brand is like a small fam­ily. She adds, “Like I tell ev­ery­one in my fam­ily, I have an­other vir­tual fam­ily. I know some of the pain points in their lives, their achieve­ments, etc. They too know what I like as a per­son, what I’m go­ing through, etc. For ex­am­ple, I re­cently shifted to Ban­ga­lore. There were mul­ti­ple mes­sages sent to me say­ing ‘Wel­come, tell us if you need help, let’s meet’, etc. Isn’t that beau­ti­ful? Imag­ine, you have not met each other, but are still so con­nected. It also re­flects in terms of busi­ness. There’s a bond, un­der­stand­ing and com­mit­ment that if a prod­uct is bought from Sa­ree Haat, it will be of a good stan­dard or pric­ing. I started this busi­ness with the thought that there were peo­ple sell­ing sim­ple saris at an unimag­in­able higher price point, and that I wanted to of­fer the same piece at a rea­son­able price. I am happy that to­day peo­ple come to my page as re­peat cus­tomers just be­cause they value my choice of saris, their qual­ity and, of course, the pric­ing. I am avail­able on both In­sta­gram and Face­book. But I fo­cus more on In­sta­gram, be­cause the re­sponse rate is higher here. Also, the kinds of saris I have cho­sen to sell (hand­loom, hand­work) en­joy more ex­clu­siv­ity and tak­ers on this plat­form. My busi­ness solely runs through these two chan­nels.”

Whether your brand be­longs to the cat­e­gory of lux­ury, de­signer, niche or nor­mal, there is no deny­ing that so­cial me­dia of­fers any cloth­ing brand with plenty of op­por­tu­nity to reach and con­nect – to build a so­cial net­work of con­sumers across so­ci­eties.

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