The desired outfit with Strellson’s Like-Shop


(Published in The Produktkulturmagazin issue 3 2017)

The Swiss fashion and lifestyle label Strellson has recognised and dealt with the growing importance of social media for company’s communication strategies for a long time. This June, they opened the world's first online shop, where you cannot pay with money, but with likes. We talked with Mehmet Arici, Marketing Director at Strellson, about the innovative idea and marketing of the future.

Mr Arici, what, in your opinion, are the greatest challenges that fashion brands must face in terms of digital transformation? 

Digital transformation comes with a lot of opportunities, but of course also creates new challenges all marketers have to face, not only in the fashion world. For example, we have a much higher demand of content and have to constantly produce new high-quality content for our media channels. While years ago, it was standard to have one image campaign with 10-20 pictures per season, today this is no longer sufficient. To feed all platforms and constantly offer new impulses to potential customers we have to come up with new content such as video, imagery, cooperations etc. very quickly. The way people inform themselves and how they consume information and ultimately make their buying decision has significantly changed over the years, and we have to adapt our marketing efforts accordingly in order to stay competitive. That leads to our next big challenge, which is generating enough traffic and leads. With so many platform options through which to publish content and even more ways to promote it, it's hard to know where to focus your efforts and where you can reach your target market efficiently. Another challenge that the industry has to figure out is the proper measurement of campaign success: Metrics are all over the place. The industry has tried page views, Facebook Likes, video views, and click-through rates – but none of them are a sufficient metric in order to track the campaign success and also make it measurable and comparable. Even engagement rates and dwell times are slippery. We are still yet to settle on a metric that is fit for purpose and that is repeatable, undeniably valuable and demonstrably linked to ultimate effectiveness. 

What importance does the online presence have for Strellson? Which channels are actively used? 

Our online presence is very important to us. Not only because we have an online shop and hence the online presence is a source of revenue, but mostly because we know that this is where we can reach our target group and customers, get them involved and thus retain them for the long term. The interactive aspect of online media presences is very important for us and we are seeking an active exchange with our customers. We are actively using our website, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and of course our new Like- Shop.  

How have the methods and approaches in marketing evolved as the channel of online communication has grown more important in recent years? 

The rapid growth and development of digital media communication has definitely changed the dynamic and rules of marketing. It’s much faster, in a way more transparent and we can track results much better (clicks etc.) than with traditional forms of advertisements. Most importantly, you can scale the reached audience and generally reach many more people at a much lower budget. The interactivity of online media also gives us the opportunity to communicate with our customers and understand their needs and concerns. Digital media also allows us to tailor the ads for specific target groups and optimise the campaign success. But as is usual, all opportunities come with challenges and bring up new questions such as the question of the measurement of campaign success, the selection of the right media outlet and of course the real-time management of customer requests, the constant screening of social media platforms and the much higher need of content in general, for example. 

This June, you opened the world’s first online Like-Shop. Please explain to us what this is. 

The Like-Shop is organised along the same lines as Strellson’s regular online shop and has 10 –15 different products from the current spring/summer collection available to “buy”. The difference is that users pay with Facebook “likes” instead of normal currency. Now, users around the world can get their hands on one of the selected items by generating “likes”. Once the user has chosen a product from the Like-Shop, they can create their own personalised post there. They can then log into their Facebook profile from the shop via the login function and share their post directly with their followers on their private Facebook wall. Now all they need to do is to mobilise their network via Facebook in order to achieve the required number of likes as quickly as possible. The first customer to generate the necessary number of likes gains the selected garment. 

What was your intention in initiating the shop? What goal are you pursuing here? 

The Like-Shop acknowledges the key part played by social media in our communication strategy, and the changing patterns of media use among our customers. For Strellson, this platform constitutes a further step along the way to winning over the digital target group, using the mechanisms of social media in order to appeal to “digital natives”. By turning online shopping into a fun challenge, it represents a novel way of encouraging young men to shop. 

How have people responded to it? What is the level of acceptance on the customers’ part? 

The feedback and reactions were overwhelming. The press and social media picked up on the topic immediately and that was also shown in the ever-rising user numbers. We get amazing feedback from our B2B and B2C customers - overall, we are more than happy with the performance of the Like-Shop and will continue with it in the upcoming seasons. 

Last year, you set out in a completely new direction with the ‘Make Yourself Unstoppable’ campaign. How did this come about, and what does your new marketing strategy look like? 

In terms of the fall/winter 2016 season we have merged the strengths of our Premium and Sportswear lines into one main collection with a unique collection statement. Our decision for this merge was a reflection of the market – trends are all towards style mix and the customer no longer thinks in categories. We wanted to communicate this significant change in the brand structure with an eye-catching campaign that also raised brand awareness internationally. The decision for an “all digital campaign” was made by taking into account the new customer: men who follow their own impulses and dare to be different. Men whose lives are rooted in the digital world. The aim of the “Make Yourself Unstoppable” campaign was to connect with this group via relevant and entertaining content. The campaign results exceeded all our expectations and hence encouraged and reassured us to pursue a strong digital focus in our strategy. Our marketing strategy for the upcoming season takes a very holistic approach and is designed to efficiently support our overall strategy/goals which are to raise brand awareness and expand our community internationally. We put a strong focus on digital media and social media ads, but print advertisements are also part of our media strategy. 

In your opinion, what does the future of marketing look like? 

In general, I think marketing will become more personalised, integrated, data driven and of course more mobile. Furthermore, most branded content will come from consumers. User-generated content will exceed branded content and we as a brand need to embrace this and accept that we aren’t in complete control of our own brand. As such, it’s imperative that brands create a strong identity in the minds and hearts of consumers. Another super interesting and important development for the fashion industry will be the Internet of Things. In the future, the way users shop will dramatically change – IoT enables smart shopping – giving customers access to information about clothing like never before. In addition, they can even see how it will look on them with the help of smart mirrors – augmented reality displays that help the customer to save time and sharpen their decision. 

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Mehmet Arici has nearly 30 years of experience in global marketing & branding, in the fields of the clothing industry, retail, fashion, beauty and designer segment. He worked for the clothing & retail industry for well-known companies such as Maxfield Los Angeles, Issey Miyake Tokyo, Hugo Boss, Esprit, Peek & Cloppenburg and Barneys, to name a few. As of June 2016, Mehmet Arici has been the Marketing Director at Strellson.

Picture credit © Strellson

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