With conference organizers staffing panels of upwards of 80 retail and e-commerce conferences each year, the content can become monotonous for those of us who attend a handful or more. However, that wasn’t the case at this year’s Decoded Future Summit.
While almost every session was insightful and forward-thinking, three overarching themes stood out most:
- Embracing Diversity
- Creating Instagrammable Moments and Harnessing the Power of Influencers
- Launching Product with the Right Relationships
It’s evident today that retailers and brands must take a more human approach to selling in order to thrive. One way brands like Bonobos, Good American and Universal Standard are doing this is by bringing more diversity to fashion. #EvolveTheDefinition is a campaign initiated by Bonobos that uses the voices of real people to start a new conversation around the narrow definition of masculinity and its limitations. The project encourages customers to add their voice and help to create a world where every man fits in.
Another prime example of embracing body diversity is Good American. Founders Khloe Kardashian and Emma Grede founded the luxury denim brand with a woman’s body in mind. The company carries sizes 00-24 and is known for their tag line “sexy comes in every size.” Emma Grede’s One Size Fits Some: Embracing Body Diversity & The Size Spectrum session was invigorating, as she cited a handful of factors that have attributed to Good American’s success. First and foremost, talking to its customer base and receiving feedback. It seems simple, but more times than not, brands don’t actually listen to customer feedback. Most recently, the company analyzed its returns and found numerous cases of customers finding size 14 to be too small, while 16 was too big. Rather than ignoring the consumer, the brand decided to make a size 15 and according to Grede they are selling like hot cakes. She also advised the audience to invite women in and ask questions. Additionally, the brand is currently holding an open casting call and looking for real women who best embody a positive attitude and diversity. In just 3 days’ time, they received more than 30,000 applications – genius!
Similarly, Universal Standard’s Alexandra Waldman shared her keys to success:
- Listen to your customer!
- When you are creating a brand that’s more inclusive, understand that your customer is actively searching for a brand that works for her rather than the other way around.
- Realize that size 8 is not a Medium in America.
- It is crucial that we, as a country, stop segregating plus sizes.
Creating Instagrammable Moments and Harnessing the Power of Influencers
Madelyn Markoe, Co-Founder of Media Noche, spoke to the importance of Instagram and word of mouth. Media Noche is a new San Francisco hot spot that specializes in fast-casual Cuban food. After a trip to Cuba, Markoe was inspired to open not just a Cuban restaurant but one that created an overall experience. With that in mind, she wanted to provide great lighting (because, selfies!), fun wallpaper and beautiful tiles. Aside from the incredible food, the décor and customer experience has done wonders for their business. In fact, just 4 months after opening, Media Noche cut ties with their marketing agency. Due to its growing popularity on Instagram, influencer visits and successful word of mouth marketing, its customers now do the marketing for them. Definitely not a bad problem to have.
Another brand finding success through influencer marketing is Shiseido Fragrances. Robin Mason, Senior Vice President, spoke to the power of influencers and how effectively they are reaching Gen Z. Mason’s advice was as follows:
- Only work with influencers that are a true reflection of your brand.
- Build relationships with a core group of influencers vs. executing one-off campaigns. Ongoing relationships are more authentic and will build trust with an audience.
- If brands aren’t focused on Gen Z, they will pay the price in the future. When targeting Gen Z, create content that connects with them. Gen Z is used to instant access, product reviews, interacting with their favorite influencers and soliciting product recommendations on social media. If you meet their needs attention, they will become loyal customers.
Launching Product with the Right Relationships
Lastly, I want to touch upon the importance of leveraging third parties to achieve your goals, as illustrated by Dash Hudson’s director of customer success, Jenny Pratt, and beautyblender's director of digital marketing and social media, Christine Stern during The Perfect Blend: Launching Product With The Right Relationships. beautyblender’s ongoing challenge has been the inability to measure the ROI of influencer partnerships, so Stern felt it was necessary to partner with Dash Hudson, a platform that allows brands to grow audience and revenue on Instagram through deep insights and ROI measurement. Using Relationship IQ, the vendor’s report card system for influencers, Stern is now able to identify the right influencers for the beautyblender brand and those who will make the biggest impact for their business. In late July, beautyblender opened a one-day pop-up shop in New York City. With the help of Dash Hudson, the one-day event turned into their biggest day on Instagram to date.
Whatever your initiatives may be, we encourage retailers and brands to consider these themes when planning for the future.