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Mobile grabs bigger share of fashion brands’ fall media mixes

J.Crew, Oscar de la Renta and Gap are all fashion brands that are relying on mobile and social platforms this year to guarantee that consumers see collections and content before it hits print or television.

Historically, fashion brands have relied on traditional media buys with print, television and out-of-home to debut their fall campaigns. However, with the increase in user-generated mobile video and photos, it seems many marketers are betting bigger on digital as a way to tease upcoming collections and scale bigger multichannel marketing pushes.

“If you look at the development of fashion, this is the next logical step with the evolving nature of fashion shows and the diminishing importance of the actual fashion show for these brands,” said Steven Fischer, lecturer of image, style and design at Northwestern University, Evanston, IL.

Reaching a wider audience
Over the past year, Instagram has become the go-to platform for fashion brands since it has an image-heavy focus and is an application that consumers are already using to share pictures with their friends and family.

Oscar de la Renta decided to tap into its base of 210,000 Instagram followers this year to give consumers the first look at the seven stills that make up the fall 2013 ad campaign (see story).

J. Crew is another brand that launched its fall collection on Pinterest before hitting traditional media. J. Crew uploaded 55 images of its fall 2013 collection on Pinterest with links that direct consumers back to the product pages on the retailer’s site where they can shop the items.

Mobile traffic continues to grow on Pinterest, and J. Crew’s Pinterest posts automatically direct consumers to the retailer’s mobile-optimized pages when accessed via the Pinterest app.

Given that social and mobile are increasingly blurring together into one medium, Pinterest is another tech-savvy platform that fashion brands should be eyeing this year to reach consumers on smartphones and tablets.

Launching digital campaigns is also a way for brands to test low-cost marketing and refine a collection before it hits a massive number of consumers.

For some of the brands that have a solid presence at fashion week, some of these digital-first campaigns also point to the growing need for brands to embrace what attendees are already doing at shows, which is likely taking pictures and videos from their mobile devices.

“The challenge from the brand is that if you have people taking pictures during the show, you may lose some control over how the photos are seen since the catwalk is a consistent way to present the clothes, but it does add a level of authenticity around the brand,” Mr. Fischer said.

Mobile-first advertising
In addition to using mobile and digital to push out new looks at collections this year, there is also a growing interest from fashion brands to buy mobile inventory on social sites.

For example, Gap made Tumblr a big part of the marketing for its fall collection with a sweepstakes that encourages consumers to upload content that expresses what the brand’s signature blue color means to them.

Gap will then pick four winning pieces of content that will be transformed into a takeover ad campaign on Tumblr’s recently launched mobile ad products. Gap claims that it will be the first takeover campaign of Tumblr’s mobile ads (see story).

According to Todd Herrold, senior director of product marketing at Kenshoo Social, San Francisco, fashion brands are following in the same steps as other retailers this year with social and mobile marketing on platforms such as Facebook.

The difference with fashion brands though is a focus on creative that is visually impactful to show off new collections.

Additionally, fashion brands are particularly interested in using ad units to drive app downloads.

“Mobile usage has increased dramatically over 2013 and is quickly becoming the default means of accessing content online,” Mr. Herrold said.

“Fashion brands and retailers have taken notice and are learning how to leverage mobile as a brand and product discovery channel,” he said. “A prospective customer’s first experience with a brand might be in store or out of doors and be immediately followed by mobile searches and social sharing about apparel they find interesting.”

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York