Chief Marketing Officer at Launchmetrics, the leading Brand Performance Cloud in Fashion, Luxury and Beauty
In my experience, the summer months are usually a quiet time for fashion. But this year is different, with the fashion and beauty industries facing challenges caused by the uncertainties of the world we live in today.
Until recently, fashion weeks and accompanying events remained a highlight in the working routine of editors, buyers, stylists and designers. Catwalks across the globe were a fixed point in business and social calendars — to see and to be seen, secure deals for the next season and set new fashion narratives, not to mention international networking. And the economic impact can’t be forgotten. New York Fashion Week alone reportedly generates close to $900 million each year for the city.
When the global pandemic hit in March, live events and fashion weeks were put on hold. Shanghai Fashion Week responded quickly, demonstrating a swift transition to digital technology which enabled 150 designers and brands to present their collections via livestream to 11 million viewers. This ingenuity set a precedent and other cities followed suit.
In July, the Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode decided to host their Haute Couture and Paris Fashion Week Men’s shows digitally, for which Launchmetrics, the company I work for, developed the digital hub. The events counted 19.4 million views on all channels, including YouTube, Weibo and Tencent Video. We also estimated the media impact value of the seven days to be $65 million. In August, Copenhagen changed the game again and decided to go ahead with its annual edition, hosting both physical and digital events, a bold move enthusiastically embraced by the press.
When it comes to events, one of the biggest challenges brands face today is recreating the emotional engagement that designers evoke through their theatrical presentations, with music, lights, models and even reactions of the front-row guests being part of the show. How can brands transfer these feelings into the digital space? How can they continue to inspire a new and larger audience which can hardly be seen?
The answer to these questions and the key to success is in digital storytelling. Digital storytelling includes not only how to place inspiring content — be it via a short movie, a prerecorded show, or digital galleries containing lookbook shots or product images — but also ensuring that the content is well received and engaged with. This is essential in order to remain relevant. The light at the end of the tunnel for emerging designers, as well as established brands, is that, with the right software, they can display their collections with a high level of artistic expression and less negative environmental impact.
Suddenly facing the paradigm of digitization is challenging, but there are some best practices that we have defined, which marketing professionals should consider when planning their future events:
Enhance the momentum of your events both online and offline.
Marketing tactics that worked for your physical events should not be overlooked. For example, creating a partnership with digitally native influencers or celebrities can still be instrumental in mobilizing your audience and driving traffic for online events. Implementing a holistic campaign around your event and leveraging relevant voices brings more awareness and, ultimately, more potential customers tuning into your digital presentation.
Ensure the digital flow from pre-event to post-event.
Planning, setting up and running digital events is easier when the workflow is managed in one place. Consider using a single tool for organization and management, so that you have everything at your fingertips: invitations, guest lists, RSVPs and attending guests, as well as the content to showcase.
If you’re managing a livestreamed event, it can be challenging due to connectivity issues, so you may want to create a prerecorded option specifically for your guest list. Of course, there is always an option to share the content with a broader audience at a later point in time, which can increase awareness of your brand and create additional buzz for the next season.
You should integrate your video stream and develop a fully digital experience for your audience that includes customized pre-event, event and post-event pages. When looking for a technology partner, focus on the details that matter, such as being able to send personalized welcome emails once a guest arrives, as this mirrors being greeted by the public relations team at a physical event. In the digital world, every gesture counts and can help recreate the emotional aspect that is found offline and during physical events.
The show isn’t over: Remember to measure the success of your event.
One of the more critical factors to remember is to analyze events after they have taken place. By looking into how many people attended the event (vs. how many people sent RSVP emails but didn’t turn up) as well as examining who was talking about your event on both social networks and media outlets, you can understand what worked and what needs adjustments in order to improve future events and business strategies.
In the new normal, I believe that brands and designers will need to be creative and find different ways to tell their stories, as well as to measure the success of new campaigns and engagements. Choosing the right tools and incorporating digital solutions into their brand’s strategies, rather than just digitizing their assets, is more relevant than ever before.
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