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Gap Inc‘s Art Peck talks digital disruption, aspirational brand expressions and enabling loyalty through relevance

13 Jun

ArtPeck_Gap

“We are entering into a period of significant opportunity driven by accelerated disruption coming from the continued pivot of customers into the digital space,” Art Peck, president of growth, innovation and digital at Gap Inc (which includes Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy, Piperlime, Athleta and Intermix brands), said at Goldman Sachs’ fifth annual dotCommerce day in New York this month.

His key message: we might think we’ve seen change over the past decade, but in retail specifically we’re on the cusp of something much bigger. It will be equivalent to that of the 1950s and 60s when consumers moved from local variety stores to suburban bix box retailers, he said, referring to the wave that saw many of today’s mega brands, including Walmart and K-mart, hit the market.

What it’s about, he said, is the customer. Consider these statistics: a decade ago, only 3% of consumers in the US bought apparel and accessories online. 15% of them engaged online but still purchased in physical stores, and the remainder only shopped offline and had no digital engagement at all.

Fast forward to today and about 15% of the market is shopping online for apparel and accessories. Those not engaged with brands digitally has shrunk to only 13%, while the remainder this time are engaged online, even if they then still buy in the real world. “What that does,” said Peck, “is put an opportunity and an obligation on us.”

At this point in time the bulk of the industry has a transactionally-efficient website that acts as a complementary channel to their stores. What we need to move towards, he explained, is an experience both online and off that ties together the overall vision of the brand. “The digital expression of our brands needs to be a holistic, aspirational expression of the brand because that is in many cases what customers now base their choice on.”

Interestingly, it’s digital that he believes will also enable the company to achieve that uniform expression of the brand across its store portfolio no matter the size of the outlet. Today at a flagship store consumers are exposed to the entire brand in an aspirational way, whereas at a mall it may just be a small subset of that intention, and often not an aspirational one at all.

“Our vision here is we bring digital together with physical, and regardless of the store, where it is, the size that it is, the mall that it’s in – we give customers exposure consistently to the entire aspirational expression of the brand,” he emphasised.

At this point in time, Gap is working on doing so with initiatives such as replacing all legacy systems in stores with web services; so in-store and e-commerce now operate on one platform. The company therefore now has the capability to have global, virtual visibility on the availability of its inventory, and has been able to introduce the likes of its ‘reserve in store’ option for shoppers.

As of next month it is also testing out an ‘order in store’ system in a bid to counter that feeling of disappointment when consumers can’t find what they’re looking for on a trip out. Said Peck: “Our commitment with assisted or unassisted ‘order in store’ is you’ll never leave the store empty-handed, whether that’s a physical bag or a virtual bag that you’re carrying with you… That’s a huge economic opportunity for us. It’s moving that conversion yield.”

Omnichannel is the obvious buzzword he said, holding up his own smartphone as an example of the most important device for retailers to be thinking about. Mobile is pervasive, but also persistent in that it stays with consumers all of the time, he explained. It’s for that reason it’s a key driver for loyalty programmes, something the company is also focusing on with a new scheme testing at Banana Republic stores imminently.

Peck referred to loyalty as a ‘big one’ for the company, a driver for frequency and for share of wallet, but more importantly as an opportunity to “bring our personalisation capabilities and customisation relevance to bear in a store environment”. At the moment 60% of people visiting the website are recognised as unique visitors, enabling Gap to personalise experiences based on things like browsing and purchase history. Doing so is providing movement on numbers like conversion, time on website, CTR and more, said Peck.

“Good things happen for the customer if they’re willing to self-identify and tell us who they are at the beginning of a shopping experience. They do on the website, they don’t in our stores. If you come into our stores today we won’t recognise you until you tender, if we recognise you then.”

This loyalty programme is about providing the customer with the opportunity to self-identify in order for the company to create a much more relevant set of experiences compared to when they shop anonymously, he explained.

It’s that word, relevancy, that he picked up on as most important: “There’s lots of talk out there about big data – to me big data, personalisation is focused on an outcome of relevance. That’s what we’re working on.”

Harmony Korine directs new wonDiorland film

12 Jun

wondiorland

Dior has teamed up with director Harmony Korine for a new short film for its Dior Addict fragrance.

The Alice in Wonderland-inspired spot features model Sasha Luss stepping through a mirror and into a luscious world of flora and fauna offset only by the heavy beat of Die Antwoord’s track, Enter the Ninja.

The film ties to a wider campaign referred to as wonDiorland, which includes a dedicated Facebook page filled with additional content, and a mobile activation referred to as a “sensorial experience”. That experience invites the user to connect their smartphones and desktops by entering a four digit pin on the latter – from there they can explore the content by touch, swiping through a variety of additional footage, insight on the inspiration and behind-the-scenes information.

The experience is designed to reflect the mirror Luss is seen stepping through, the page reacting as though pulsating to the user’s touch and activating dream-like pieces of content on the larger screen.

Korine was last seen in the fashion world directing somewhat of a controversial spot for Proenza Schouler.

Burberry, Wren, Uniqlo and Marc Jacobs among digital winners at inaugural Clio Image Awards

7 May

clio_SJP

Sarah Jessica Parker might have taken home an honorary title for her creative work at the first ever Clio Image Awards this evening, but it was a night for digital campaigns from across the fashion and beauty industries to be recognised otherwise.

Grand prizes in categories including mobile, experiential, out of home and video each went to initiatives that could be deemed digital in some way or another, nicely nodding to the integrated efforts being seen in the market of late.

Burberry unsurprisingly won the prestige title in digital/mobile for its Burberry Kisses campaign with Google last summer, while Uniqlo took the mass award in the same category for its Uniqlo Storms Pinterest initiative. That latter one achieved a massive 55 million impressions in five days with a media spend of $0.

Meanwhile, the Marc Jacobs Daisy Tweetshop, which saw fans able to use social currency to win big prizes during New York Fashion Week, was the winner in the engagement and experiential division. (There’s a great campaign wrap video on this hosted on the Clio website well worth the watch).

Even the out of home award in the mass category, which went to Gap for its Holiday 2013 campaign called Make Love, saw a digital component this year. The ads were straightforward portrayals of different types of love; depicting diversity and focusing on a message of acceptance throughout. It was the retailer’s reaction to racist graffiti being drawn on one of the ads starring Indian Sikh-American actor and fashion designer Waris Ahluwahlia in a New York subway station however that truly hit the headlines – Gap not only made the effort to find out where said image was actually located, but made that same shot its Twitter background picture. The Clio Image Awards referred to this as a “rare moment where a campaign truly comes to life”.

Film meanwhile, was a particularly easy one, with the grand prize going to Wren for its uber viral First Kiss campaign. This three-and-a-half-minute video documenting 20 strangers making-out for the first time only launched in early March 2014, but has swiftly become the most-viewed fashion film of all-time with a huge 81 million views.

There were also honours for the likes of T by Alexander Wang’s guerrilla marketing move with its free-for-all sample sale, Diesel’s Reboot campaign, the Inside Chanel video series, and more. Further awards went to Inez & Vinoodh for their achievements in fashion photography, as well as in additional categories such as store design, packaging, partnerships and print ads.

Image via WWD

Digital snippets: Nike, Burberry, Selfridges, DKNY, John Lewis, Burt’s Bees

4 May

It was perhaps Nike that was the buzziest of brands over the past couple of weeks, if you take into consideration both the successful launch of its unofficial World Cup campaign, Winner Stays (as above), and the rumoured shift in strategy for its FuelBand wearable device. That latter news reported the brand is laying off 70-80% of the fitness tracker’s hardware team in a bid to focus on software and the NikeFuel metric instead. A further interview with Nike President Mark Parker added fuel to the fire on a big partnership with Apple.

Burberry meanwhile was another brand with various stories to follow. It opened its new Shanghai store to much theatrical, multimedia fanfare; pushed yet another social tie-in via WeChat; launched an online store on Alibaba’s Tmall; and was announced as one of the first brands to advertise using Instagram video. And if that wasn’t enough, Angela Ahrendts just made that move officially over to Apple. “Did you notice?” asked the FT.

Safe to say, some other companies were up to things too. Here are the best of the fashion and tech stories not to be missed…

  • Selfridges launches biggest ever beauty campaign with Google+ partnership [Campaign]
  • DKNY shoppers go product hunting with Awear Solutions chips [FierceRetailIT]
  • John Lewis looks back on British history in TV spot to mark 150 years [Campaign]
  • Burt’s Bees creates promotional messages via appointments in digital calendars [NY Times]
  • What can fashion-tech companies learn from Instagram’s success? Co-founder and CEO Kevin Systrom shares his start-up secrets [BoF]
  • Instagram is brands’ best bet for consumer engagement… but not for long [Fashionista]
  • ‘Brand tagging’ mobile apps: China’s next selfie sensation [Jing Daily]
  • Fashion retailers eye up image-recognition apps for smartphones [The Guardian]
  • Microsoft to push into fashion space “like never before” as it boosts commitment to UK start-up community and unveils ASOS as partner [The Drum]
  • Why online retailers like Bonobos, Boden, Athleta mail so many catalogs [WSJ]
  • Crowdemand is like Kickstarter for fashion designers [Mashable]
  • Like a dating site for fashion, PopInShop plays matchmaker for brands and boutiques [Fashionista]
  • The golden era of ‘fashion blogging’ is over [The Cut]

Digital snippets: adidas, Louis Vuitton, Neiman Marcus, Bitcoin, American Apparel

20 Jan

Here’s a highlight of the best stories in the fashion and tech space over the past couple of weeks…

adidas_Stan_Smith_Popup

  • adidas launches Stan Smith pop-up store, includes 3D-printing station (as pictured) [Dexigner]
  • Louis Vuitton debuts spring campaign on Instagram [Refinery29]
  • Neiman Marcus CEO apologises for data breach, offers free credit monitoring [The Verge]
  • Overstock CEO: Why we’re accepting Bitcoins [CNBC]
  • Five reasons why American Apparel is bullish on Twitter [AdWeek]
  • Aerie’s unretouched ads ‘challenge supermodel standards’ for young women [Huffington Post]
  • Warby Parker launches interactive 2013 annual report [Laughing Squid]
  • Wet Seal hires 16-year-old to build its following on Snapchat [AdAge]
  • François-Henri Pinault puts his money where his mobile is via Square, hints at future for luxury world buying into tech [FT Material World]
  • Show business: are fashion shows still relevant? [BoF]
  • Beacons: what they are, how they work, and why Apple’s iBeacon technology is ahead of the pack [Business Insider]
  • Personalisation is key for beauty omnichannel strategy: L’Oréal Luxe exec [Luxury Daily]
  • Try on virtual make-up and pay with your hand with retail tech at CES 2014 [BrandChannel]

Saks unveils interactive holiday windows, offers Makerbot 3D-printed snowflakes

2 Dec

Saks_yeti5

Consumers are invited to flick personalised digital snowflakes onto the windows of Saks Fifth Avenue’s flagship store in New York this Holiday season.

The initiative, developed in partnership with creative digital agency, The Science Project, and sponsored by MasterCard, is part of the retailer’s wider focus on the legendary Yeti rumoured to reside on its roof making snow during the festive period, this year.

The Yeti Snow Workshop as this particular window is called, invites passersby to visit saks.com/snow on their mobiles where they can find out their own Yeti name, add it to a snowflake design and then flick it from their device to instantly see it gently falling down the window.

In-store those who spend over $150 or more with their MasterCard, can then receive a 3D-printed snowflake created by the MakerBot. Harry Cunningham, senior VP-store planning and visual at Saks, also told AdAge: “3D printing has been a big of late, so some of the figures in our window this year are actually 3D printed. As technology advances and as things move forward, we’re looking for opportunities to inject that into our process.”

Six of the other store windows depict different scenes of the Yeti’s life, from being “an under-appreciated snowmaker in Siberia to his starring role as a true snowflake artist in New York”. Each also features the hashtag #SaksYeti.

They were unveiled last week with a 3D light show mapped onto the façade of the store created by Iris Worldwide (as in the YouTube video below). It runs every seven minutes each night from 5-11pm over the Holiday season.

Saks_yeti3Saks_yeti1Saks_yeti4Saks_yeti2

Digital snippets: Holiday retail round-up special

27 Nov

Given it’s the day before Thanksgiving in the US – meaning retailers are about to go all out on heavy promotions – here’s a special round-up of all the ways they’re using social and digital to help lure the seasonal shopper and start converting those all-important Holiday sales…

ebayinc_digitalstorefront_rm4 (2)

  • eBay debuts shoppable touchscreens and digital storefronts for Sony, Toms And Rebecca Minkoff in San Francisco (as pictured) [TechCrunch]
  • Target launches “most digitally enabled campaign” in its history, pins hopes on Pinterest this holiday season [Co.Create]
  • Topshop partners with Pinterest for online and offline Holiday campaign [Fashion&Mash]
  • JC Penney launches first Holiday campaign under new marketing head, includes crowdsourcing initiative inviting users to upload videos of themselves singing ‘Silent Night’ [AdAge]
  • ‘Reserve in Store’ service rolling out to all Banana Republic stores across the US, 200 Gap [CNBC]
  • Jingle all the way at Kmart with #showyourjoe Christmas ad [Fashion&Mash]
  • Kohl’s adds emotional brand spots to Holiday mix [AdAge]
  • Hollister teases Black Friday deals on YouTube [ClickZ]
  • All the interactive elements accompanying John Lewis’ #bearandhare Christmas ad [Fashion&Mash]
  • Cath Kidston, Bauble Bar driving traffic with Christmas treasure hunt campaigns [Fashion&Mash]
  • Michaels offers interactive Holiday help with live elf available through streaming video [Chain Store Age]
  • M&S teases Christmas #magicandsparkle campaign over social [Fashion&Mash]
  • Louis Vuitton highlights gift ideas on interactive goose game [Luxury Daily]
  • Tillys runs ugly Christmas sweater contest over Instagram [Tillys]
  • Neiman Marcus teams up with Shapeways to offer 3D printed holiday capsule collection [PSFK]

Digital snippets: Selfridges, Prada, Victoria’s Secret, Gap, Asos, Lancôme, Valentino

24 Nov

A highlight of the top stories surrounding all things fashion and digital of late: 

Selfridges_drivethru

  • Drive-through Dior? Coming right up at Selfridges London [CN Traveler
  • Wes Anderson debuts latest Prada feature [Fashionotes
  • Victoria’s Secret creates 3D-printed angel wings for fashion models [Huffington Post
  • Gap rolls out “reserve in store” service [CNBC
  • Valentino jumps in on China’s high-tech runway revolution [JingDaily
  • Under Armour looks to take a bite out of FuelBand success with MapMyFitness acquisition [BrandChannel
  • Pinterest opens API to retail partners [TechCrunch
  • Google’s Eric Schmidt invests in retail tech designed to help personalisation and data measurement [WWD
  • Here’s why ‘The Internet of Things’ will be huge, and drive tremendous value for people and businesses [Business Insider
  • Why companies desperately need to make wearables cool [Wired
  • How brands get shoppers to volunteer their personal data: transparency and better experiences [PSFK
  • Social media drives less than 1% of shopping sessions, study says [Fashionista
  • Fashion retailers are still failing to optimise email marketing for mobile [Econsultancy
  • What retailers can learn from mobile commerce in the UK [Shop.org
  • 15 stats that show why click-and-collect is so important for retailers [Econsultancy

Note: Look out for a separate holiday-specific digital round-up later this week, featuring all the top retail campaign stories as well as insights into the biggest innovations being pushed for the festive season. 

Digital snippets: Michael Kors, Agent Provocateur, Mulberry, Kate Spade, Lucky

16 Aug

Here’s a highlight of recent stories from around the web surrounding all things fashion and digital:

michael-kors-fragrance

  • Michael Kors launches choose-your-own-adventure Facebook app for new beauty and fragrance lines [Mashable] 
  • See Penélope Cruz’s First Film for L’Agent Starring Irina Shayk [Fashion Gone Rogue]
  • Mulberry’s new responsive site shows luxury brands how to do UX [Econsultancy]
  • Kate Spade taps mobile photo-sharing to push new KSNY X Darcel line [Mobile Marketer]
  • Eva Chen, trending now at Lucky magazine [NY Times]
  • VFiles to stage ‘user-generated’ fashion show at New York Fashion Week [BoF]
  • Is ‘buy now, wear now’ really the future of fashion? [Fashionista]
  • How brands are using Instagram’s new video upload feature [Mashable]
  • Five ways online retailers are preparing for Holiday 2013 – mobile proves key [Shop.org]
  • Four online brands that are building their reputations offline, because it’s called street cred for a reason [TechCrunch]
  • Low-price retailer TJ Maxx plans to open an online store this year, as does rival Saks Inc’s Off Fifth outlets [Reuters]

Why Instagram video uploads are great for fashion

7 Aug

Instagram_videouploads

Instagram introduced an update today that enables its 130m users to import video from their media library. Such a move instantly points to an opportunity for significantly higher quality posts, as pre-recorded, refined and even archive footage becomes feasible.

What could be more appealing than that for the fashion industry? The previous option only allowed users to record in-app, as remains the case with Vine, meaning the end results were often quite raw and less on par with what luxury brands particularly wish to put out.

Of course that’s not been the case with all posts, as I’ve previously commented with regards to Vine. Numerous brands have used the platforms incredibly well since their respective launches in February 2013 (Vine) and June 2013 (Instagram) by teaming up with specific artists, demonstrating how clever, experimental and creative it’s possible to be in spite of restricted functionality. Some of the stop motion work on Vine is especially astounding.

Yet let’s not forget that the reason Instagram became so suited to the fashion industry in the first place – and rapidly saw brands growing enormous followings as a result – is through the quality that could instantly be achieved with still images. Being able to add a filter on top of any candid behind-the-scenes photograph is an immediate way to give it a more luxurious spin.

When video launched therefore, the inability to be able to do the same thing from the phone’s gallery, having to record directly instead, meant most of the conversation that quickly followed was around how to hack that fact. Several achieved it, from a trailer for the new Ashton Kutcher film, Jobs, based on Steve Jobs’ life, to a post from adidas by Stella McCartney to promote its surf line.

Having the ability to now do that officially, changes the game. Importantly it’s a win for marketers in terms of better controlling the assets that are released, ensuring they are more on-brand, which remains the chief concern for luxe design houses.

Logistically it also makes the whole process much simpler. The downside of that of course might be that we lose the real-time access to the shows such short form video brought if it first has to go through an edit and sign-off process. It’ll be interesting to see how this is handled.

It’ll also be interesting to see how Vine is impacted off the back. I would suggest it might still remain a hub for creativity (I hope), not to mention great for those with a particularly strong Twitter following, but either way expect a lot more content to flow through Instagram from now on in this capacity, especially as the fashion week season looms…

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