DIGITAL MARKETING'S IMPACT ON FASHION
May 3, 2023
Avni Desai Rajpal
Throughout the 2010s, society has witnessed the exponential growth of social media, digital content, and AI. As online channels continue to become more relevant, any fashion brand’s growth will hinge on their ability to connect effectively with their online customers.
On the second Sunday of February, football and Rihanna fans gathered around screens all over the world to watch Super Bowl LVII. Viewership totalled 113 million, making this year’s game the second-most watched in Super Bowl history, and it also rekindled the competitivity among US marketers for ad slots (Nielsen 2023). The greatest storytellers in advertising vie for these highly coveted, extremely expensive spots ($7 million or more for only 30 seconds) in order to win over customer hearts and boost product sales (Business of Fashion 2023). E.l.f. Cosmetics, a beauty brand lauded for its affordable makeup and skincare products, debuted its first-ever TV Commercial just before the Halftime Show, primetime ad placement. The brand had already spent months cultivating an audience on TikTok, a rare feat for many established companies in the beauty industry. E.l.f. wanted to chase the value of TV advertising, giving the company the potential to continue broadening awareness and help the brand stay competitive (Business of Fashion 2023). Their comedic ad features the brand’s 2021 Power Grip Primer and stars Jennifer Coolidge. After she applies the sticky primer to her face, she suddenly finds herself stuck to everything she tries to touch, and ultimately has a phone conversation while stuck to her shower door. Not only was the choice of celebrity strategic, as Coolidge is a buzzing persona after recently winning a Golden Globe for her role in “White Lotus,” but the ad itself successfully promoted the brand’s image. The company responded to Power Grip Primer’s earlier trendiness and prioritized “tak[ing] E.l.f. to a bigger stage” with this ad, as the company’s chief marketing officer frames the endeavor (Business of Fashion 2023). As always, booking an ad spot is a risky move, but e.l.f. is seeing a return on investment, and their projection of sales have grown to about $543 million, up from $482 million (Business of Fashion 2023).
In another memorable advertisement, Rakuten, a leading e-commerce shopping platform for rewards and cash back, drew upon ‘90s nostalgia and cast Alicia Silverstone reprising her role as Cher Horowitz, the iconic teen shopaholic from Clueless. Cher is back in the debate classroom, where she argues everyone should shop Rakuten for the greatest savings. Award-winning CFDA designer Christian Siriano redesigned Cher’s iconic yellow plaid suit, drawing viewers in with the new look and creating excitement (PR Newswire 2023). TV advertising has great potential to make a brand rise in prominence, but the marketing can also be done more subtly. Rihanna, for example, arguably had the most effective commercial of the Super Bowl. Halfway into her performance, she used her very own Fenty products, a stunt that garnered $5.6M in earned media value in the next 12 hours.
Social media’s power in contributing to the rise and resurgence of certain brands is also undeniable. GenZ interns employed by brands needing fresh energy have created viral marketing campaigns, and reminded the world how crucial it is for brands to master social channels (Digital Native 2023). For example, Claire’s, a teen accessories retailer, employed a 20-year-old last summer who used the #krissing trend to spotlight the company’s once-loved spikey ball and gummy bear earrings. The video generated 1.5 million views and 20,000 new followers for the company’s TikTok account (Digital Native 2023). Brands can observe this phenomena e and use young people’s digital fluency to their advantage.
All of this being said, the influencer economy is at a turning point: audiences are huge, but growth is stalling, with TikTok new user activity plateauing (Financial Times 2023). Social media companies are building creator programmes and finding ways to make it easier for users to spend their money, such as with integrated marketplaces. De-influencing videos, a new trend where influencers appear casual and unguarded, speak to consumers who feel a new sense of authenticity and connection from the seemingly spontaneous video creations (Financial Times 2023).
Fashion companies who want to continue pursuing deals with popular creators will have to account for this, and make sure their marketing tactics are subtle. In other words, we may all need to learn a little something from Rihanna.
Kennedy, Joan. “How E.L.F. Went from TikTok to the Super Bowl.” The Business of Fashion, 14 Feb. 2023, https://www.businessoffashion.com/articles/beauty/how-elf-went-from-tiktok-to-the-super-bowl/
Moore, Elaine. “What De-Influencing Tells Us about the State of the Creator Economy.” Subscribe to Read | Financial Times, Financial Times, 21 Feb. 2023, https://www.ft.com/content/38d04f54-a8b3-435e-b2bd-2f392e3b31f4?accessToken=zwAAAYZ28cqDkc840E9UqLNDXtOyvS85Ljsx9A.MEUCIBq5Fdvh5k1kcOsREEfM5UdKD-9Yww6inREhZdGAbYXkAiEA5NjOi0t69Z33JRJFfCCJ51pj38xh5rfRlaBhdsWx15M&sharetype=gift&token=196293a7-141b-4051-aaa4-7c30febae318
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“Super Bowl LVII Totals More than 113 Million Viewers, Ranks Second Most-Watched Game Ever.” Nielsen, 14 Feb. 2023, https://www.nielsen.com/news-center/2023/super-bowl-lvii-totals-more-than-113-million-viewers-ranks-second-most-watched-game-ever/#:~:text=NEW%20YORK%20%E2%80%93%20February%2014%2C%202023,112.2%20million%20viewers%20on%20FOX.
Woodbury, Rex. “The Retail Revolution (Part 1/2) 🛍 .” The Retail Revolution (Part 1/2) 🛍 - by Rex Woodbury, Digital Native, 22 Feb. 2023, https://digitalnative.substack.com/p/the-retail-revolution?utm_source=post-email-title&publication_id=38500&post_id=102344598&isFreemail=true&utm_medium=email