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Influencers At The Heart Of Brand Strategy – The Tommy Hilfiger Case

Margherita Zama

“Fashion Weeks” are the talk of the town. Whether printed out on glossy paper or posted on the web or social networks, everything that happens on the runway is and always will be at the center of any conversation for weeks after. These shows are hosted all over the worldNew York, London, Milan—with the most recent one in Paris. This show held many leading French fashion designers. But the brand that stole the show (as a result of its highly successful influencer strategy) was without a doubt: Tommy Hilfiger

The traditional runway is dead

I know some people may think that the runway is no longer an important touch point, but that is just not the case. Although the runway is a physical event that was initially used to present collections to a concentrated audience, now these shows have extended to the digital realm and encompass a much larger group of people. The “here and now,” the real time capability fueled by social networks has transformed the way we consume traditional retail and how fashion shows are perceived in general: they are no longer so exclusive with bloggers tweeting images fresh off the runway in a matter of seconds.

It’s no coincidence that brands are now using their shows as digital springboards to launch their campaigns, becoming more accessible and socially-commerce-centered. Take Topshop for example: They made 6 items from their collection available at the flagship store immediately after its show at London Fashion Week. Fashion show runways have moved beyond live-streaming to become a fully interactive event to involve as many people as possible.

Brands able to reach the people that are not physically attending a show through digital means are spot on the money, making PR and marketing teams compete for their audiences’ attention by coming up with creative engagement strategies in real time.

Runways and social networks: the opportunity to go digital

Over the past year, the Tommy Hilfiger fashion shows have provided the brand the chance to shift their focus to social networks and go full throttle with digital.

Now it’s time to go back and review some key actions the brand has done to make the switch to digital possible:

The Social Concierge

Their Spring / Summer 2014 fashion show is a good example for how they are approaching influencers.

Their 25 person back office is dedicated full time before, during and after the runways to respond to requests from journalists in real time, all of which fits perfectly in this changing fashion show environment … Journalists and bloggers are being literally flooded with press releases and press kits and they need to get specific and personalized responses all in a very short time frame.

Through this service, Tommy Hilfiger has been able to offer to all journalists and influencers high quality and unique content, enabling anyone to build their own story around the brand and what was happening on and around the runway- all closely related to their target group.

Mission accomplished! TH has not only managed to generate huge ROI measurable value for its own brand (proposal videos, details of the collection, the designer quotes, news of the brand), but also provided advantages to the media!

InstaMeet #nyfwinstameet

As the fashion industry is inherently visual in nature, Instagram has absolutely changed the whole  scope of fashion weeks. Everything nowadays is in real time, everyone tweets and « Instagrams » everything and anything. Just imagine what all takes places before and during fashion runways! Tommy Hilfiger has firmly established itself as one of the few brands that is carrying out a wide array of social network actions (especially Instagram). The February 10th, 2014 fashion week held in New York City is a perfect example. For NYFW, Hilfiger has been able to capitalize on its own InstaMeet community to encourage fans to actively follow its brand … both before, during and after its show, using two  hashtags —  # tommyfall14 and #nyfwinstameet.

By combining the strengths of influencer marketing (through partnerships with 20 well-known Instagrammers) with the Tommy Hilfiger website fan base, the brand was able to reward its  most loyal fans by providing them free access to the fashion  show. This marketing strategy has boosted its traffic on both mobile and social networks, but has especially enhanced their brand awareness by promoting proactive participation as well as providing access to all the brand’s consumers / followers.

influncers insta meet

New Timers

Since founding my brand, I have been inspired by a wide range of influences outside fashion – music, art, architecture, and entertainment. This season I am pleased to welcome a fresh point of view to the show experience and show the world of fashion through a new lens by introducing the ‘First-Timers’ digital program.” – Tommy Hilfiger

Tommy Hilfiger has gone one step further in its striving to democratize the Fashion Week experience, actively involving a  group of influencers from various fields and areas of expertise (music, architecture, arts, tourism, floral design ), all of them far from being devoted to the fashion world, to document the unique experience of seeing a fashion show for the very first time.

By combining their own expertise with the world of fashion, these “first-timers” have created a new approach by combining their own artistic eye along with the Tommy Hilfiger fashion show visual experience, enabling  the audiences (and many more fans) to perceive the brand from a completely new perspective.Their photos were then  shared on their own social networks and blogs, social channels and in a section within the tommy.com website  called “The Conversation“, reflecting this news as well as being shown in real time up on numerous LED displays that had been previously  installed on the show’s podium.

“Each season we strive to develop digital programs that engage new audiences…By introducing our First Timers program, our runway show is becoming an increasingly democratic experience, answering our consumers’ demands for immediate access and original information” explained further Avery Baker, Hilfiger Group CMO on  the WWD website.

These influencers, thanks to their multiple backgrounds, help Tommy Hilfiger to discover new facets of its brand without trying to impose any specific content on the public nor the media.

Deliver a unique experience thanks to digital

Today, access to goods and services is a mere click away. And luxury brands have always been defined by their scarcity and price, reserved to be enjoyed by the elite few. But today, time and ease of access are the true luxuries, where customer satisfaction is no longer delivered by  the products themselves, but rather through interacting with the world created by the brand image. For brands, this means offering unique experiences seamlessly throughout every stage of the customer journey.

Ever present in all markets in an ever-changing digital world, brands are forced to work even harder to be successful if they hope to catch the customer’s eye while being able to actually ensure some degree of consistency between what is being  promised, the message that is being delivered and  and the actual experience itself. While not everyone can afford an outfit being displayed on the runway, operations such as those of Tommy Hilfiger (and many other brands) nevertheless enable them to participate in building the brand, having it “top of mind” and keeping it close to our hearts.

So, let’s see what happens in the Paris Fashion Week

 

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