Uniqueness and exclusivity, two peculiar traits of a successful brand identity in the fashion industry. The distinctive essence is critical to win legions of loyal supporters, but it must be deployed across all touch points of the customer journey to be recognized as top choice.
All things fashion no longer belong to the field of handmade and craftsmanship. The entire industry is on the verge of its biggest revolution: as customers become digital customers, brands need to adapt as fast as they can, reinventing the whole idea of fashion customer experience.
As a consequence of this transformation, uniqueness and exclusivity become a reflection of an overall amazing experience, not just the result of a costly product or high-quality materials. While your products can be as traditional as you like, the way you sell them and you connect with customers has to be totally shaken up.
If setting trends is still the inner raison d'être for any company dealing with the fashion, luxury and beauty business, the rules of shopping have completely changed in the last decade. What the word ‘shopping’ meant yesterday is not important anymore.
Thinking and planning your customer journey relying on old certainties will not help you at all. You will still have an high-quality product, but you won't be able to reach customers when it matters most (to them). And you will ultimately fail to overcome the challenge of technological disruption.
No runway show or glossy magazine might save you, since the Internet and the smartphone have changed everything. Digital screens and mobile devices melt the virtual and physical worlds; they create a whole new shopping experience and influence customers' needs and desires.
As the experience goes digital and mobile, businesses need to evolve to keep pace with clients. The essence of fashion is ‘couture’; nevertheless, the fashion and luxury industry needs now to breathe the fresh air of transformation, to appeal young and high-spending digital customers.
Every time they need to shape a digital marketing strategy, firms working in the industry of haute couture, beauty, clothing and luxury face the fear of losing their true identity. Understandable fear, but you can overcome it if you understand that the brand is still the core of all activities; you just need to incorporate it in your digital customer experience.
So, marketers struggle to maintain a balance between two opposite forces: engage customers and stay true to the brand. The creation of a meaningful relationship with customers is more important for fashion brands than it is for other retail firms. Why? Because fashion-addicted clients are always first in line when it comes to trends and living high-profile experiences.
Technology makes no exception. This is the scenario: digital customers ask for innovative engagement strategies, and expect that you are able to create personalized experiences across all devices and touchpoints. The brand must think and act mobile, shaping a coherent journey that connects the mobile presence and the retail store. Building a sense of exclusivity for the entire customer experience.
What should the fashion industry brands do to enhance their strategies? They should love technology, and use it to create the best fashion customer experience their clients will ever have. We can trace five improvement lines, based on what technological innovation offers today.
EXCLUSIVE MOBILE APP
Even traditional brands today understand the importance of mobile app development. Fashion brands need to take a further step, and find the perfect way to adapt customer-facing apps to that idea of uniqueness that they want to strengthen. The only way to reach this goal is to start offering an outstanding holistic experience, using the app as the key to open a whole new world. Loyalty based dynamics, gamification mechanics or a digital showroom 3D, for example, could be the right choice to augment the fashion experience, engage customers emotionally and instill your values in their mind.
THE FASHION WEARABLES
The success of the Apple Watch - that follows the avalanche of the activity trackers - is bringing the spotlight back on wearable technology. Recent reports confirm that this peculiar market is growing five-times faster than the smartphone revolution, and it is evident how these new objects of desire make the perfect match for fashion-related marketing strategies. Why useful technologies should not be beautiful too? Wearables can be the next step in the radiation of your brand identity, and they surely already are ideal to develop context-aware engagement activities.
An innovative marketing strategy for the Age of the Customer designs all channels as equal elements of a complex and coherent structure. Mobile connectivity is just the starting point of a multi-faceted road to reach customers everywhere they are, whatever device they are using. Following the new generation of smartphones and wearables, the iBeacon has become a huge trend, mostly still unexplored. Geo-fencing and localization are made to enhance the store experience in the name of right-time personalization, delivering contents that are truly targeted and context-based. Here begins the reinvention of the store as we know it.
THE INTERNET OF THINGS
Do you really need to deny the traditional store? Ever since the first smartphone connected to the Internet, mobile has become a critical factor in the retail customer experience. To deliver the fashion promise, the physical store - more than everything the flagship store - must go from ‘a place where I pick up products’ to ‘a place where I can feel and breathe the essence of a brand’. You need to redefine the in-store experience, promoting the use of technology (namely the Internet of Things) as a way to integrate and connect the different touchpoints and establish a seamless purchasing path.
CUSTOMER BEHAVIOR ANALYSIS
What is the toughest challenge when dealing with digital customers? The identification of behavior patterns and routines that can help you to better understand their needs and wants. These customers want to be considered in their own singularity, and refuse ready-made solutions. Fashion brands, therefore, have just one way to avoid blind navigation: embrace the power of data. Connected devices produce all the information you need to know about customers and the evolution of business. It is your job to make sense of all data and extract reliable strategies from numbers and statistics.
All the different routes bring you to one final step, the creation of a memorable shopping experience. Being exclusive means building an exclusive customer experience. You can only deliver on this promise if you stay current on evolution, adapting all new disruptive tools to your specific values, history, heritage. In one word, to your brand.
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