Just about the first thing I think of when I hear ‘digital fashion’ I think of online shopping. It has become the norm in everyday life.
Burberry has begun to capitalize on this mindset and quickly became a trailblazer for marketing in the digital realm. One essential way they have developed their online presence and capitalize on their known branding of the legendary trench coat, they began an art gallery titled “Art of the Trench“.
The gallery is an array all of the latest photos of people wearing the infamous Burberry trench coat.
In the general sense of the concept, this seems mediocre at best. But it’s a smart digital move because it creates a brand on equal ground with every other digital user. This strategy utilizes the Instagram-esque viewing format of “the latest photos featuring men and women in any colour, any style trench coats in ALL weather” to market their product but keep the interest of the viewer by the different settings and coats.
If I’m being honest, I spent about 15 minutes just scrolling through the gallery because those trench coats are BEAUTIFUL.
I mean seriously, look at that trench coat on the right – who doesn’t want to just sit and admire it.
Because of this experience, people don’t have to look at the photos and be like “oh, this is advertising”. Instead, they look through the photography and admire the street style of all of the different individuals.
You can also find it on their YouTube channel.
Although this is a more quiet digital presences, this feature nonetheless offers a user experience from the brand itself that not many other brands do – literally looking at photos without the pressure to shop/buy something like Cartier.
However, not every venture has been successful. In an attempt to capitalize on the complete customization mentality like how salad chains have that basically mirror the process of getting a sandwich at Subway, Burberry offers customization WITH THEIR TRENCH COATS. Insane, right?
About a half of a decade ago, they released Bespoke, a built-in system for consumers to completely customize their own trench coat. This includes the style, fabric, length, and color.
Above is a picture of the program, where you can see the customization options. If anyone is thinking this seems a lot like NIKEiD, you’re not wrong.
I mean you can literally choose the buttons and belts.
A caveat of this program is the lack of complete and utter customization because Burberry won’t put their name on just anything. Instead, they take away certain options depending on the choice made for material or color.
However, like all unpredictable things in life and the digital world, this program was a flop. Unlike NIKEiD’s lasting presence on the Internet, Burberry quietly shut down Bespoke and instead has taken a much safer, high-end route.
So, why can something that works seamlessly for companies like Nike cannot translate to the luxury sector? This is a question I’m sure Burberry is still asking themselves.
For some consumers, like Justin L Jeffers, this comes as a blessing.
Now, for a mere $150 extra dollars (I say mere because if you’re spending $3,000 already, it isn’t much more) Burberry offers monogramming as their Bespoke program rather than complete customization.
Yes, you can wear your own initials on top of the Burberry name around the city.
However, this quiet change goes to show how unpredictable the digital world is, especially when it comes to the fashion industry. It is also interesting because customization and one-of-a-kind clothing should be highly sought after through luxury, but it wasn’t.
Since this minor setback, Burberry has made much more successful moves, like to Snapchat as a marketing platform for their “Mr. Burberry” fragrance. This isn’t the standard new ‘discovery’ or ‘sponsored’ tab, but rather Burberry chose to make the marketing channel of Snapchat the product of their marketing, not the marketing itself.
By this I mean the bottles of Mr. Burberry fragrance have a code to scan for Snapchat, unlocking even more Snapchat content. To make the product segue to the marketing is pretty revolutionary, especially because it targets an actual customer of Burberry who they know will be more likely to enjoy the content.
In addition to this, they do also offer the standard live stream featuring behind-the-scenes footage of the photoshoot for the 2016 Spring collection.
As Christopher Bailey, Burberry’s chief creative and chief executive officer, puts it:
Creatively this is incredibly exciting as we are totally focused on capturing the energy and the rawness of the shoot and sharing it the moment it happens.
This new move to the Snapchat platform is just another way the brand is continuing to innovate and capitalize on the technological capabilities to market to the younger digital generations.
The graphic to the right shows just how smart of a strategy this is.
According to Snapchat, 60% of smartphone owners aged 13-34 years old use Snapchat. Snapchat also get 8+ billion video views EVERY DAY.
… and I think 80 people watching my Snapchat stories is a big number, so that number is impressive.
They are leading the way in the fashion industry and truly evolving with their customer.
However, not everyone thinks so. Although I might not agree, some think other luxury brands like Cartier have done a better job enforcing their brand with digital marketing.
(I don’t agree because I would much rather customize a trench coat with my monogram than watch a history video on how Cartier came to be.)
With that said, this is all important because this changes how we see a brand and their product. No longer does the consumer purchase a product because they liked what they saw in that moment at a store. Now people (like myself) are looking for a brand with a noticeable name and a great presence within their social media feeds to ignite their desire for the product.
No one ever says “I bought Ray Bans because they looked great in my family photo”. Instead, people buy Ray Bans so the logo is obvious in their Instagram photo and helps their personal brand.
In fact, 40% of Millennials from ages 18-24 say they’ll pay extra for a brand that reflects the image they would like to convey about themselves.
To examine just HOW impactful this type of marketing has been on fashion, I interviewed a few girls around the University of Michigan campus.
Elaine (ED) and Jenna (JF) are two girls I found willing to let me briefly talk to them about their social media habits.
Are you a daily user of the Snapchat “discovery” tab? If so, in what circumstances do you use it?
ED: Yes, I love it! I usually use it when I’m bored in class or to take a study break. It seems so stupid, but sometimes when you’re studying, you just want to take a quick break and the little videos and memes in the discovery channel take about 3 minutes to click through.
JF: It’s basically my morning ritual. I wake up early for nursing, so I like to sit in bed before leaving to just get me into the groove of the day. Personally, I love looking at Cosmopolitan‘s discover page.
Because the discover tab features so much photography of celebs, especially one’s like Cosmopolitan that you mentioned, do you use this to keep up with trends and/or to find inspiration?
ED: I don’t really actively use it for that reason, but I guess it helps me stay in-the-know for what people are wearing and the new trends.
JF: I never really thought of it as a way to keep up with trends, but I guess I like seeing what people like Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid are wearing because I love their personal styles. So in a way, I guess I do use it to keep up with fashion.
Do you ever use Instagram to find fashion?
ED: I like scrolling through to see what people are wearing. It sounds pointless considering I could ask my friends but it gives me “going out” help because sometimes I just don’t know what clothes to wear. It’s also nice to scroll through it at the beginning of a new season. More often than not, I end up thinking “wow that’s really cute, I want something like that” and go buy it.
JF: I LOVE using the discover tab. I usually just go through my feed really quickly, then I go to my discover tab to see what everyone is wearing. One of my friends has a fashion blog, so I like to see based on those posts that I like what the trends are going on. That’s usually my inspiration to put outfits together.
With all of these strategies, Burberry is truly capitalizing on the social media marketing by maintaining their name’s reputation of luxury but truly interacting on social media.
According to this marketing article, since more Millennials are interacting with their
friends and other individuals online rather than offline, it’s important for brands to develop a brand that’s easy to ‘befriend’. They also love word-of-mouth online more so than other generations.
This is why Instagram and it’s affordances are imperative for a brand to provide the customer with exclusive information/footage, but to appeal to their general visual senses as well.
The future of fashion is no longer up to just the designs, but how well the brand can communicate their identity on social medias and online by becoming an ‘individual’.
This effectively makes fashion marketing another realm of journalism. No, I’m not saying fashion marketing is following journalism ethics or by any means reporting news – after all, marketing is about getting people to buy the merchandise.
But the personification of a brand is no longer just for journalists to capitalize on within their outlets: it now translates to sales and new design inspiration from the consumer. And Burberry is paving the way by example for the rest of the fashion industry’s digital future.
Your style or brand name in Kendall Jenner or the most popular girl on campus’s Instagram? Your designers find inspiration and the next trendy outfit.
Cartier, take notes.
*Disclaimer: first photo featured of University of Michigan student was not posed, but rather an unsuspecting person. The other two photos were, and thus should be considered portraiture.