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Lilly Pulitzer brightens fan loyalty via private announcement on Instagram

Although Lilly Pulitzer’s mcommerce application rollout may be behind the times, the brand made up for its lateness by rewarding loyal social media followers with an exclusive chance to hear the announcement first.

The brand, which is known for its colorful resort wear and beach wear for women, took to its Instagram account to caution its more than half-million followers that it would be making its account private overnight in preparation for a major announcement, which later unveiled the shopping app. This move effectively leveraged Lilly Pulitzer’s passionate fan base by proving the brand’s loyalty to them in allowing them to hear the news first, a social media strategy that more marketers are beginning to employ.

“While it is surprising that Lilly Pulitzer didn’t introduce a mobile app sooner, it is a smart move to provide its loyal customers another avenue to interact and shop with the brand,” said Ken Morris, principal, Boston Retail Partners, Boston, MA. “Consumers have unique preferences on how and when they like to shop and offering them another choice in how they interact with Lilly will broaden the brand audience.”

Social media lockdown
To promote its upcoming announcement, Lilly Pulitzer posted an image of one of its summery wallpapers on its Instagram account, with the tagline “Follow NOW, We’re Going Private” running atop the post.

Its caption informed social media users that the brand would be making a secret announcement the following day, and encouraged fans to tag their friends to hear the scoop first before the account went private overnight.

This strategy offers a loyalty-based approach to exciting consumers, as the brand’s loyal followers were given the opportunity to hear the news regarding the new mobile app first. As Lilly Pulitzer strives to create long-lasting customer relationships with all individuals who don its bright prints and classic shift dresses, this tactic resonated positively with many Instagram fans.

“Making a private Instagram announcement to launch the Lilly Pulitzer mobile app was a clever way to reward its more than half a million Instagram followers and make them feel exclusive,” Mr. Morris said.

“These loyal Lilly Instagram followers are prime candidates to download the mobile app to receive other exclusive messages and deals. The exclusivity of private messages and announcements is a great way to enhance customer loyalty.”

The retailer also tagged the post announcement with the hashtag #LillySpillTheJuice, a play on the inception of the brand, which began after its namesake, a Palm Beach socialite, designed colorful shift dresses to mask juice stains incurred while she worked at a juice stand during the day.

The following morning, Lilly Pulitzer debuted an Instagram video showcasing the app and its features, with a link in its account profile to download the application, which is currently only available for iOS devices.

This social media lockdown strategy is gaining traction from other marketers as well who aim to return some of their consumers’ loyalty.

Several weeks ago, E!’s new drama series, The Royals, implemented a similar social media marketing experience on Twitter and locked down its account to provide loyal fans with behind-the-scenes content, sneak peeks, conversations with actors and exclusive material while generating hype for its season finale (see story).

App features
Lilly Pulitzer fans will now be able to make purchases directly within the app, powered by Prolific Interactive, which provides customers with streamlined checkout and faster shipping.

Consumers waiting to wear the products to a special occasion can track their orders in the app, as well as receive access to brand secrets and their favorite prints on demand, which can also double as wallpapers.

Customers may additionally read through item reviews, and opt in to receive push notifications, which would likely serve to be useful for rollouts of new prints, products or sales.

“Mobile apps typically appeal to the very frequent shoppers of brands, as it requires extra steps to download the app and it adds to consumers’ growing/crowded inventory of mobile apps,” Mr. Morris said. “Frequent and loyal shoppers of Lilly will download the new app and enjoy the daily tips and appreciate how much easier it is to shop on their phone.

“According to the 90-10 rule, 10 percent of the customers account for 90 percent of sales and the Lilly app is an effective way to stimulate sales from the 10 percent who are most loyal and likely to buy.”

Final Take
Alex Samuely is an editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York