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In the increasingly competitive world of fashion ecommerce, one thing is certain — the industry is set for meteoric growth.
Despite the coronavirus impacting global supply chains, the online fashion e-commerce market is still slated to grow at a CAGR of 11.5 percent for the next three years, largely due to an increase in online spending and improved consumer choice.
This represents an opportunity for ecommerce fashion brands to knuckle-down and ramp up marketing to capitalize on this growth and enter 2021 in a position of strength.
Focus on a clear mission and vision
Let’s face it. The vast majority of fashion brands look to achieve mass-market appeal by offering a large product range that targets a wide range of customers. However, though this is certainly possible for large brands with well-established design, manufacturing and distribution pipelines, it is easier said than done for smaller brands.
Instead, developing a unique vision and mission is often the key for young companies to break through the incredibly loud noise of the clothing industry. This can usually be achieved by focusing on a specific niche and positioning yourself clearly around specific goals that you and your brand aspire to. These goals can relate to quality, the environment, your employees and many other aspects.
When founding the young fashion brand Ossesso, the two Swiss entrepreneurs Rolf Hess and Thomas Stieger, who for the past 30 years have operated successful resources, consumer and luxury goods companies under the management of Hess Group International, decided to take a different path than most young apparel brands. “This space is extremely competitive and to enter it, you must radically differentiate from the rest,” Stieger says.
“What sets Ossesso apart is the fact that it is charity oriented,” he continues. “When you buy Ossesso, you are not buying a product, you are wearing your principles. It is less about buying the products and more about the expression of social and societal responsibility, because a percent is dedicated to charity from every single sale.”
Think about how your brand can improve the world we live in and what your customers really need to live a better life. As Hess adds, “It’s not just about improving trust, health and restoring willpower, but ultimately about getting rid of the habits that have left us behind.”
Once you determine what your brand stands for, it’s time to get your products in front of the right people. This involves performing extensive research on your target niche and formulating a strategy that puts these insights to work — helping you get to know your ideal customer and identify potential points of interaction to build your niche marketing funnel.
Develop your partnership network
As soon as your first marketing efforts are starting to attract early customers to your business, it’s time to scale your operation. To achieve this, many ecommerce fashion brands are forging partnerships with non-competing and synergistic firms — helping to leverage their expertise customer base, and resources for a combined net positive effect for both firms.
Take Adidas, for example. Though Adidas is renowned for its running shoes and sportswear, it has been able to appeal to a wider customer base through its partnerships with a variety of non-competing brands, including Prada, Dragon Ball Z Colnago, and more. By doing this, both Adidas and its partners benefited from extensive cross-promotion and media coverage, helping to drive sales and boost brand recognition for all parties involved.
More often than not, start-ups in niches such as fashion and lifestyle also rely on external financing in order to scale their production and marketing efforts. In this day and age, many founders decide to trade a stake in their company in exchange for funding from a venture capital firm. However, some investment firms have begun to support their clients beyond financing, for instance by taking on various marketing and sales tasks.
One company that fulfills the role of a hybrid between a VC firm and an agency is DRVE. The company claims to have made more than 100 investments in a variety of ecommerce start-ups, mainly in the lifestyle, fashion, beauty and technology sectors. Rather than simply pouring capital into a start-up, DRVE’s experts take care of a client’s entire paid marketing strategy and invest up to $50,000 per day in the client’s online advertising.
“The numbers are clear: Three out of five VC dollars go to Facebook and Google,” DRVE CEO Oliver Mauss says. “So founders are basically diluting in order to pay them. If we can get that out of the way of founders, including taking the risk of paid marketing away, companies can come up to speed and grow at the rate they need to. In addition, if they keep raising capital, all funding rounds in the future will look like a way better deal.”
Although your brand might not score partnerships on the scale of household names, carefully selected partnerships can be both lucrative in the short term and highly strategic in the long term. This is particularly beneficial for newer and growing fashion brands, because it can be a way to one-up the competition and quickly solidify their market positions.
Become your own influencer
Influencer marketing is rapidly becoming one of the go-to methods for many fashion brands looking to market their products, build awareness and drive customer engagement.
As an increasing number of fashion brands look to leverage the benefits of influencers as part of their social strategy, the market is becoming somewhat saturated, while most successful influencers with the best engagement rates and analytics are inundated with requests — with this competition driving up the cost and barrier to entry. Moreover, with influencer fraud now on the rise and more than 60 percent of influencers now using artificial methods to grow their followings and other metrics, firms now need to remain extra vigilant when allocating their influencer budget.
However, while it is certainly possible to turn a positive return on investment (ROI) by hiring influencers to promote your products, you can optimize your spending by forming your own influencer channels by growing a substantial following on relevant social media platforms and offering genuine value to viewers and followers.
This is typically achieved in one of two main ways. The first is to simply boost your brand’s social media presence to influencer status directly. This has the benefit of forming a more direct relationship with your customers, helping to both retain users and maximize view time for your fashion products and services.
The second option is to build a more general channel covering related topics, such as beauty and fashion advice, trends and style or fashion news, and then position your brand as sponsors or recommend its products. This gives you far more leeway on the type of content you can build and the size of the audience you can appeal to, but will likely come at the cost of a reduced conversion rate.