I loved an article this week on the Business of Fashion (the fashion industry’s Bible) about what fashion brands are calling the Digital Iceberg. You can read it in full here – or keep going for my take on digital icebergs and what lies beneath.
So according to research by the Activate, the American technology and strategy consulting firm, the average American spends more time on digital media and technology than at work or sleeping. And according to consulting firm McKinsey, nearly ¾ of all luxury goods purchases, even if they take place in physical stores, are influenced by what consumers do and see online. The experts at McKinsey say in the long term 99 per cent of purchases, whether online or taking place in the real world, will be influenced by digital in one way or another. Remember this stats as you read on.
In the luxury fashion world, this means adspend is shifting online (which in turn will over time causing the traditional print industry to crumble although currently glossy fashion magazines are still considered a place that top fashion brands must be seen to advertise in). But deciding where to spend money is the easy part, and making that adspend change is just taking action at the top of the digital iceberg.
You see, for brands and businesses, reaching new audiences was once about paid reach and interruption (adverts that people have to sit through or look at), about repetition (if a brand shows me their advert enough I guess at some point it sinks in) and about PR. The audience couldn’t interact and you’d just hope to hit them with your message as they leaf through a magazine. And while you might know that not everyone reading a magazine was exactly your right audience, you would know that broadly speaking they were.
‘In the pre-Internet era, when media was a monologue to a passive, captive audience paging through a print magazine, for instance, the dominant marketing model was built on interruption, paid reach and repetition.’ The Business of Fashion
So if you were a brand or business, you’d pick a number of publications that mostly fitted with what you offer, you’d pay for a load of adverts to blast the readers with and if you were lucky the publication might do an editorial about you too. Sometimes the adverts might be completely irrelevant to the reader in the way say the Daily Mail’s adverts about walk in bath tubs are irrelevant to me (and before you judge I only read the Daily Mail because a) I used to work there and b) my mum always has it at her her house).
Personally, I’d refer to this strategy as throwing a lot of shit at the wall and hoping some of it sticks. Adverts are often irrelevant to readers, and that goes for online adverts as well as offline adverts. Today things are really different as we know, this interruption model is weakening and I can’t put it any better than the Business of Fashion.
‘Media today is a ‘multilogue’ unfolding in real time across a network of media-technology platforms where consumers are voluntary, active participants, meaning brands can no longer monopolise the conversation and, instead, must forge symbiotic, reciprocal relationships with others.’ The Business of Fashion
Which to put simply, means as a business or brand or person, you need to be all over it. Because remember that first stat – it will not be long until 99 per cent of sales will be influenced by digital. A monster has been created and it needs feeding. And what does it eat? Content, in one form or another, whether that’s blog posts (yes, this post is itself a meal for this monster), Instagram images, Facebook updates, Twitter updates…..
‘At the end of the day, you need content. We need more and more content to keep alive the emotion that we offer to our customers.’ Natalie Remy from McKinsey, talking to The Business of Fashion.
Apparently it’s due to this that the number of fashion shows, parties, dinners and events overall has increased in recent years. They are all about generating content, conversation and engagement in a non-obvious way that still allows a brand to be present and seen, and guests are invited according to their follower count. Meanwhile, Burberry has its own content studio and is clearly taking this very seriously.
‘The vast production studio at Burberry’s headquarters outputs a never-ending stream of slick digital content, feeding the brand’s website and social media channels. Their CEO says “We are now as much a media-content company as we are a design company.’ The Business of Fashion
It’s true that there remain a few fashion brands that are digital laggards, such as Celine apparently. But it seems with digital carrying so much influence over sales, and that influence increasing, noone, from the most well known fashion houses to a small business or service industry professional, can truly afford to remain a digital laggard for too much longer.