Fashion challengers fall short

24 November 2011

LONDON: Many challenger brands in the European fashion category are missing out on the opportunity provided by digital media to enhance their status, a report has argued.

L2, the specialist think-tank, assessed the output of 46 "niche" fashion brands, analysing their official websites, new media marketing activities, social media presence and mobile initiatives.

Overall, it reported that none of the featured brands had attained "genius" status, whereby these digital channels have been used to create meaningful differentiation. This was a first in its global research.

"Digital could be the differentiator for brands that become iconic, and those that become irrelevant," warned Scott Galloway, the founder of L2, adding that most manufacturers were ignoring the chance to "punch above their weight class."

Agent Provocateur, the UK-based underwear brand, led the charts on 136 points, affording it a ranking of "genius", having successfully implemented a number of initiatives with a clear, consistent voice.

Helped by its "sexy" content, Agent Provocateur's YouTube channel has logged 1.3m hits, versus an average of 121,774 across all the featured brands. The firm's best-in-class website, linked to its various social media pages, was also praised by the study.

Ted Baker scored 128 points, aided by blogger outreach programmes such as that for the "It's Rutting Season" campaign, using Instagram, a photo-sharing app, and deriving maximum value from Facebook.

Stella McCartney was third on 124 points, credited for the simultaneous roll out of ecommerce tools and a second-generation iPad app in 28 regional markets, and for having the fastest-growing Twitter account.

Another seven brands, including Moncler, Lanvin and Jean Paul Gaultier, also fell in the "gifted" category. A further four were "average", some 13 were "challenged"  and 19 were "feeble".

By country, the ten British brands posted the highest average score, on 99 points, while their 22 Italian counterparts logged 74 points and the 11 French offerings assessed secured just 73 points.

In all, 78% of brands were present on Facebook, 67% provided ecommerce tools, 61% were leveraging Twitter, 48% uploaded content to YouTube and a third had mobile sites and apps.

All of these figures fell below the average for the top-performing global fashion labels, while the number of Facebook fans signed up in Europe was also 20 times smaller than the industry leaders globally, with 55,000 "likes".

Data sourced from L2; additional content by Warc staff