Dolce & Gabbana is targeting its next generation of customers through a combination of catwalk shows, social media, events and a new range of products.
Dolce & Gabbana has always been an early adopter of all things digital, and now the label is on a mission to woo its next generation of customers: the millennials.
And just like with everything the Italian brand does, their recent marketing efforts targeting twenty-somethings were anything but understated. Last January for its menswear show, the brand recruited a small army of young influencers and celebrities to walk on the runway in the place of traditional models.
Everyone from Youtube maverick Jim Chapman to the young creative entrepreneur Luka Sabbat, plus Cameron Dallas and Immy Waterhouse took part in the show, generating thousands of clicks and likes from their respective followings and renewed attention to the brand.
In February, Dolce doubled on the trend putting on an even bigger spectacle for its women’s show: Pyper America Smith, Kenya Kinski Jones, Kristina Bazan, Aimee Song, Harley Viera Newton, Pixie Lott and Oliver Cheshire, Rafferty Law, Isabel Getty, Princess Maria Olympia of Greece, were just some of the influencers, celebrity scions and socialites who walked the runway clad in signature leopard minis, Sicilian-inspired floral dresses and gold crowns.
Each one went on to document the process from the fitting to the final walk on their social platforms, alongside the hashtag #DGMillennials and #DGFamily. Inevitably the show became one of the most talked-about during Milan Fashion Week and the images generated from the event were among the most shared of fashion month.
In the case of popular US-based blogger Aimee Song, the blogger shared intimate backstage moments in a YouTube vlog that was viewed up to 92,526 times. Other bloggers, from Kristina Bazan to Shea Marie and Negin Mirsalehi created visual stories on their Instagram accounts, from fittings with Stefano Gabbana and Domenico Dolce to having their makeup done, picking outfits and walking on the runway. Each image received over 20k likes.
Dolce & Gabbana and Influencers: a step beyond sponsored content
Just like with any widely talked-about event, the show raised many an eyebrow in addition to generating buzz on the Internet. Critics were sceptical about the integrity of the brand, arguing that reliance on Instagram celebrities to create noise, instead of achieving this through the clothes, is problematic.
But for the brand, the show and subsequent initiatives stand as a representation of a new phase in the company-dubbed #DGRinascimento (or ‘renaissance’), which will secure its future. By putting on a spectacle like last February’s show, they are showing their commitment to engaging with the millennial consumer and going a step further than the usual brand-influencer partnerships which mainly consist of sponsored content on Instagram. Using non-traditional catwalk models of different shapes and ethnicities was also applauded as a positive statement on diversity, a topic that is crucial to the socially-conscious millennial.
Following on from the catwalk show, the brand also tapped some of the millennials who appeared on their catwalk for their latest campaign. They swapped the likes of Bianca Brandolini d’Adda and Monica Bellucci for young Instagram-famous models Thylane Blondeau, Sonia Ben Ammar and singer Zendaya who were photographed dancing their way through Capri to the adoration of their millions of combined online followers.
In addition, the label has launched a new range of products to cater to its younger customers, from bags with cartoonish illustrations and tongue-in-cheek logos such as ‘All I need is Love and Wifi’ to a new range of customizable sneakers. The sneakers feature playful hand-drawn illustrations and scribbles, and customers can make a pair their own by adding different patches, ranging from embroidered crowns to slogans such as ‘I am the Queen.’
To promote the launch, there are playful, animated videos on Instagram showing the production process, as well as accompanying store events. Most recently, the brand invited customers to discover the new sneaker collection at an event in their Milan flagship on via della Spiga, which was hosted by some of their favorite influencers, including Pelayo Diaz (or @princepelayo as he is known to his one million Instagram followers) and German blogger Caroline Daur.
Combining online initiatives with offline events and new, targeted products allows the brand to build on the increased visibility it has been gaining on social platforms, turning it into transactions and also building a more meaningful relationship with its new audience.
In fact, the formula is working so well for the brand that they aren’t planning on stopping any time soon; Caroline Daur and China-based influencers Mario Maur and Kerry Wang have already confirmed that they will be making another appearance on the Dolce catwalk for their upcoming spring 2018 men’s show in Milan and the brand continues to build excitement by teasing more and more names.