Let’s face it, the fashion industry has been hit hard by the effects of the coronavirus pandemic; since there was a shift in consumer sentiment, people now tend to focus on buying necessary items. According to Boston Consulting Group, revenue generated by the fashion industry dropped by more than one-third in 2020, which is equivalent to around $640 billion in lost sales. This is tremendous.
Additionally, many fashion brands had to close down retail stores. In fact, the world’s second-biggest fashion retailer, H&M, plans to close 250 of its 5,000 stores globally, and the Zara owner Inditex SA already closed over 1,000 retail shops earlier this year.
More to the point, apparel is a necessity, but the fashion industry is very fast-lived, and customers are not as willing to buy the latest product offerings if they have to contend with monetary uncertainty. Not to mention, that today, due to the pandemic, consumers can barely wear the clothing out on the town.
In short, very few people are willing to spend money on new clothes only to wear them at home. Especially not during a global crisis!
As a response to the coronavirus pandemic and its effects, many fashion brands are moving toward digital solutions. For example, Inditex SA invested $3 billion to boost the e-commerce operations of chains like Zara and Bershka. Moreover, this trend toward digitization is also mirrored in fashion marketing. I was recently reviewing data at FIT ( where I teach fashion digital strategies) and charted some vital changes happening in the fashion market today and beyond.
How fashion marketing will change in 2021
With in-store shopping being heavily restricted, fashion brands will have to make their online stores and the shopping experience they offer customers as approachable as possible. A 2018 Gartner survey showed that 46 percent of retailers already planned to deploy either AR or VR solutions by 2020.
With the coronavirus pandemic leading to the closure of many retail stores, this number is expected to grow even more in 2021. According to Gartner Senior Director and Analyst Brian Manusama, about 25 percent of companies are planning to deploy AI technology like chatbots in the next 12 months.
Chatbots and other digital solutions are an easy way to offer a more personalized shopping experience, which translates to higher customer satisfaction and more sales. In fact, some brands are also offering virtual stores to mimic the retail shopping experience. For example, Dior launched a 360-degree view virtual store where customers can walk through the whole store and look at items, just like in a regular retail store. Recently, I have also reported in virtual retail developments with Dolce & Gabbana and Ralph Lauren respectively.
In addition, social media will also play a tremendous role in the fashion marketing sector. Many brands have already successfully made use of paid advertising for their marketing campaigns. Native social media ads are a great way to create authentic online marketing campaigns. “In this day and age, social media marketing is hands down the best way to drive sales revenue,” said Jason Modemann, Managing Director at Mawave Marketing.
Jason and Patrick, founders of Mawave, are leading experts in this field. Together with their team of performance marketing specialists they are helping young apparel and lifestyle brands thrive by employing state-of-the-art social media marketing strategies. Some of their previous clients include the popular socks brand SNOCKS, known for inventing invisible sneaker socks, DRYKORN, About You and Holy Fashion Group, a holding company for various clothing brands such as JOOP!, Strellson, and Windsor.
Another important factor is the optimization with respect to mobile shopping. Nowadays, most customers are browsing stores or social media apps on their phones, and it is essential to make mobile shopping as smooth as possible to ensure that customers who are willing to buy something are able to do so without a hassle. I always explain to people that if you just take a glance at an airport, you will notice that almost all people are using mobile- all the time.
But there are also other aspects that need to be taken into account. Not only do fashion brands rely heavily on retail stores but they also usually made use of offline events to showcase new clothing. In 2021, live streaming events and online advertisements will be the way to go.