Skip to main content

MBPT Spotlight: What Marketers Need to Know About Social Media's Influence on Consumer Fashion Buying

Even though a majority of female fashion apparel and beauty
product shoppers have Twitter profiles, 140 characters won't cut it when it
comes to influencing major fashion purchasing decisions.

Instead, those shoppers say they rely more on blogs and
message boards, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram.

That's the tip of the shopping preference iceberg to be
found in a new study, "Social Channels
of Influence in the Fashion Industry,"commissioned by NetBase
and conducted by Edison Research.

The women's apparel and beauty industries in the U.S. record
annual sales of $175 billion and $13 billion, respectively, and the newly
released study offers marketers advice on which social media matters and how to
best engage fashion-buying consumers.

The study surveyed 1,005 women social media users, ranging
in age from 18 to 65-plus, in the U.S. in May 2013. All of the women have
profiles on one or more social networks.

While many fashion marketers believe Twitter's immediacy in
reaching female fashion and beauty product shoppers with messages can be a key
factor in building brand awareness, the study finds the social network does not
motivate these shoppers to plunk down their credit cards.

It continues that even though 75% of women defined as "social
shoppers" and 66% of women defined as "fashionistas" are Twitter users, Twitter
is not among the top five fashion purchase influencers.

Social shoppers and fashionistas are the two key consumer
segments in fashion buying, which is based more on women's fashion attitudes
than on traditional demographics.

As defined by the study, fashionistas are women who strongly
agree with the statement, "Fashion and beauty are extremely important to me." The
group makes up 28% of the study's respondents. Social shoppers are women who
strongly agree with the statement, "The brands and products my friends use
influence my own purchase decisions." They make up 15% of the respondents.

"Just because you have a profile on a social network doesn't
mean that it influences your fashion purchases," the study posits.

According to the results, fashionistas (97%) and social
shoppers (98%) are more likely to have Facebook profiles than any of the other
social networks. However, they look to fashion blogs and message boards
slightly more for inspiration. Before making a purchase in at least one fashion
product category, 62% of fashionistas and 64% of social shoppers consult
message boards or blogs.

Facebook is a close second, however, when it comes to
influencing fashion purchases. Before making a purchase in at least one fashion
category, 72% of social shoppers and 56% of fashionistas consult Facebook.

Approximately one-half of fashionistas and social shoppers
look to Pinterest for purchase inspiration, with its role particularly strong
with respect to costume jewelry, special occasional clothing, casual clothing
and cosmetics.

The study found that the percentage of women who are
inspired by Instagram is lower, but this platform is the best way to reach
younger shoppers. Instagram inspires decisions in at least one fashion category
for 42% of social networking women in the 19-29 year old age group.

Here are four steps that fashion retailers or fashion brands
should follow as taken directly from the study:

1. Know who your influencers are and what they're saying
on fashion blogs and message boards, and engage in the conversation.

You may think of these channels as a fragmented mess, but
your most valuable consumers consider them a go-to source of inspiration. They
offer intelligence for campaign tracking, new product launches, purchase
intent, competitive differentiation, brand health and much more.

2. Use Facebook both for marketing and social

Your target customers are there, and they are talking about
your products. Make it easy for fashionistas to learn about your products and
for social shoppers to spread the word. And just as importantly, use the conversations
to understand their wants and needs.

3. Invest in Pinterest because it punches above its

Fashion is inherently visual. Retail is visual. The
opportunities to engage with consumers through visual marketing will only grow.

4.Understand the nuances in how the different
social channels are used in your fashion category.

You'll want to tailor your social strategy to how women gain
inspiration to purchase the products you sell.

NetBase offers social intelligence information to global
brands and agencies. Its clients include Coca-Cola, Kraft, Hewlett-Packard,
ESPN, GfK, McCann Erickson and Taco Bell.

Edison Research conducts market research for businesses and
media organizations worldwide and also conducts exit polling. Among its news
organization clients are ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox, NBC and the Associated Press.

here to register for the daily Media Buyer & Planner newsletter.