Three weeks into the new year, and all e-tailers are already busy as bees: Fashion, after all, never sleeps, and neither does tech. You’ve got to move, and move fast, if you want to stay relevant in 2017.
But how do you stay relevant? Which direction do you take? Which trend do you follow?
Luckily, there’s a top-notch event that sheds light on this continuous dilemma: #FASHIONTECH. On Wednesday, January 18, Styla attended the event in Berlin, which discussed the future of fashion and focused on the role that technology plays in it. #FASHIONTECH is where fashionistas meet super-nerds, where technology meets aesthetics, where innovation meets business, and, finally, where leading retail brands — such as Mavis, TOMS, Barts, Minimum, khujo, and Kenneth Cole — exhibited their products and where thought leaders of the industry gave inspiring speeches on wearables, e-commerce, and digital marketing.
Below are a few of our top takeaways from the event, which can be applied not only to the players in the fashion industry but to other consumer brands as well.
BRANDS SHOULD HAVE A SOCIAL PURPOSE
With more and more millennials choosing purpose over paychecks, there’s now a huge pressure put on brands to shift their business towards a purpose-driven model. Today’s consumers don’t want to buy just products from brands anymore — they want to buy products that are going to change the world. No more, no less than that.
The 2015 Ubiquity Global CSR Study by Cone Communications (CSR stands for Corporate Social Responsibility) has revealed extremely interesting data:
- 80% of consumers are ready to buy from small, unknown brands that have stronger social values
- 84% of consumers seek out responsible products whenever possible
- 72% of consumers believe that their purchases make a moderate-to-significant positive impact on social or environmental issues
And what’s even more interesting, according to ConeComm research, more than half (57%) of consumers actually admit that they’d buy a product of lesser quality if that product is more socially responsible.
In other words, it’s not about the product anymore — it’s about the impact that it has.
Lisa Hogg, EMEA Marketing Director at TOMS, gave a wonderful speech on how a business can grow and prosper because it’s being socially responsible — not as a “side project”, not as a nice “afterthought”, but as a main core brand value.
For those of you who don’t know TOMS, this is a global brand that sells shoes to change the world. TOMS is based on the One for One principle, meaning that for every pair sold, there’s another pair given to a person in need. Currently, TOMS has given away 60 million pairs of new shoes, such as their classic canvas slip-ons, sports shoes, winter boots, wet-weather slip-ons, and even school shoes. “You might think that [giving away] school shoes seems a bit supercilious, but there are regions in the world where, if you don’t have the right shoes, you don’t get to go to school,” Hogg explains.
Over the years, TOMS has evolved the way they give, expanding their product offerings. Now, it’s not just shoes that they sell and donate, but also eyewear and tote bags. TOMS openly and directly addresses socio-environmental problems, raises awareness about poverty, social injustice, and health issues. And let’s admit it: that’s more than an average brand ever did.
“The more we sell, the more we give” — Lisa Hogg
Acknowledging this trend, and building businesses with a socially positive impact will be the path for brand success in a streaming future.
DYNAMIC PRICING IN FASHION RETAIL: YES, IT’S HAPPENING
Since forever, manual pricing has been an obstacle for offline retailers who were unable to change prices flexibly — something that can become a huge pain (you know where) in the current price-competitive environment. Fashion retail desperately needs tools and solution that would help to rapidly respond to the challenges and changes of pricing.
With so-called dynamic pricing —or real-time pricing — the approach to setting the cost for a product or service is highly flexible. It’s an ultimate, accurate solution that Agata Sedowaska, Vice President at MariElla Labels Oy, has proposed during #FASHIONTECH.
Through dynamic pricing, discount concepts, which have proved to be massively profitable in the online world, can be easily translated into the offline world. Think about a two-hour Flash Sale. Or “Happy Hour Specials”, for example: a short period of time during which customers can receive a second pair of shoes for free.
Dynamic pricing opportunities can lift the fashion retail business to a whole new level — and things that are possible now are truly just a tip of the iceberg.
VIRTUAL & AUGMENTED REALITY IS DRIVING THE FUTURE OF FASHION RETAIL
With Pokémon GO becoming a global sensation last year, Virtual and Augmented Realities quickly became a topic of global discussion among marketers, who were all concerned with one question: how can virtual and augmented realities be used for business purposes?
Some offline business were quick to utilize the trend to their advantage: you might have read about the pizzeria from Long Island, L’lnizio Pizza Bar, that, for just 10 bucks, lured a dozen of Pokemon characters to their location. The impact seen from it was tremendous: over 70% of sales increased of their pizza slices over just one weekend.
Anna Rojahn, Founder and Managing Director at Fast Forward Imaging, suggested that it’s only a matter of time when online retailers will be able to use augmented reality to their advantage.
“There lies a huge paradigm shift ahead of us in terms of how we consume media”, she said during her speech at #FASHIONTECH, “And that, funnily enough, tends to come along with how we actually consume things as well. Before, if you think about it, we used to have offline boutiques with offline products. But then came the Internet — and, suddenly, e-commerce. Then came the smartphones — and, suddenly, mobile products.”
So what’s the next device currently being pushed by manufacturers that will transform the landscape of retail?
According to research firm Tractica, there will be $21.8 billion in revenue created by selling VR headsets. And that’s basically thanks to our beloved iPhones and iPads, which can make VR possible.
“Every single one of us carries a VR capable device in our pocket, because smartphones are essentially just that” — Anna Rojahn
During London Fashion Week ’17, many brands harnessed the power of augmented reality, allowing the attendees to view the show through an iPad, which enabled digital content show up on top of the catwalk.
In April last year, Marks & Spencer created futuristic augmented reality T-shirts for kids, allowing them to immerse in a world full of unicorns, while watching bears scale skyscrapers and monkeys swing through the jungle. All that people had to do was download an app, hold a device up to the T-shirt, and then observe creatures move and even jump out of the T-shirt.
So, where are we heading with all of this? To augmented retail. We already have the opportunity to use the devices to view AR content after all — so brands will only continue further exploring it.
With new technologies popping up every day, it becomes deeply essential for brands to shift their focus to the purpose behind using certain types of technologies — it’s the only way that they will be able to succeed in the future.
At Styla, we know that consumers are becoming hungry for meaning, hungry for purpose, hungry for change, hungry for authentic content. Brands must see this as an opportunity: by opening their eyes and listening to their customers, they can create scalable, value-driven content platforms while still remaining a profitable business. Content commerce is one of the ways to do it.
And with this in mind, I’d like to wrap up with a question: as a brand, what will you do to create a meaningful experience for your audience?