The state of retail
We are witnessing a large and somewhat disturbing move in physical fashion retail right now. Despite stock markets all-time highs, booming consumer confidence and the lowest unemployment rates in a decade, there are far more retail closures and fashion businesses going bust in the US than during the financial crisis in 2008. And we have not yet seen the bottom; Credit Suisse expects the number of retail centers to decline by at least 25 percent over the next 10 years
For further detailed info, read more at Business of Fashion
We saw it coming
However, there are no surprises in this. We have seen it coming, it just hit us quite abruptly. Consumer trend research have during the last 15 years indicated that 1. a substantial part of retail consumption would move online, 2. consumers love the hunting and gathering kick and therefore cast their love on on-trend discount retailers, whereas they don’t relate to the traditional brands that don’t offer delight and entertainment in-store and online in addition to their products (think ‘experience economy’), and 3. that we have increased our investment in technology and experiences, which enrich our everyday lives in a conscious way (the movement from conspicuous to conscious consumption).
The next era
We also know that the next era includes the ‘feeling good is the new looking good’ movement with an even stronger focus on sustainability paired with a healthy lifestyle than today, where athleisure dressing becomes the new norm, and where we will see a huge rise in mind-balancing activities such as meditation and mind-fullness.
Actually, we already acknowledge that the distinguishing factor of the retail disruptors of the future will be the strength of the communities that they are able to build. Making likes, shares and comments as important as traditional retail metrics like footfall and hitrates. Or as Li Edelkoort puts it: ‘Individualism is long over. We live in a world created for interaction, dealing with an economy of exchange and a strong sense of extended family, where working and playing together has become more important than individual gain’. So being part of a community is of major significance. This will also be true for fashion communities – just look at how Patagonia, Nike Running, Tory Burch Foundation, or Emily Weiss’s social brand building is paving the way.
So what do we do while we get our bearings on how to leverage the above insights? I have gathered 3 steps (in the Spring colour of 2017), which we are acting upon: 1. The store, 2. The store personnel, 3. The brand
1. The store of the future
2. The store personnel of the future
3. The brand of the future
Needless to say, this is the time to think omnichannel. Physical stores are influenced by what consumers do online. If you are not relevant and authentic in the digital space, and especially on social media where consumers spend on average 2 hours a day, then they won’t even think of looking at you in real life.
So how do you ensure that consumers notice you and your stores? We are back to ‘a new reality for marketing and branding’ as the paradigm shift in launching a product or collection has gone from being a sprint to a marathon. So apart from moving from 2 times print advertising a year to storytelling 2 times a day, having content marketing, events, bloggers and influencers as part of your marketing mix, local influencer marketing is also becoming a hugely important part of the strategy.
Local Influencer Marketing makes the store known and relevant
We know that consumers value their communities highly, they trust their friends more than brands, and they are influenced by the coolest guys and girls in their local community. If the local influencers have posted from your latest store event, it becomes interesting. That’s why identifying and connecting these local influencers to your brand is paramount.
Furthermore, we know that social media is increasingly important, because that’s where consumers are. We can see it in the advertising numbers: ad prices are increasing between 70-200% every year (especially now with consumers migrating to mobile devises where there is no room for banner advertising), but the ad reach and impact is declining with 170% per year. So how do you secure authentic brand space on social media? You make sure that your products are featured in an authentic way on the local influencers who resonate with your brand message – making it even stronger and more relevant, because these local influencers are already in the feeds and walls of your consumers. A bonus is that you get great content and a growing number of hashtags as well.
Look to Brandheroes for more inspiration on local influencer marketing, and check out Decoded Fashion Summit in London on the 16-17th May to hear more about local influencer marketing where a local influencer from Århus, Denmark Linnea Funks will share cases from her By Malene Birger relationship.