A Recap on WWD’s NYC Digital Forum 2015

The Women’s Wear Daily Digital Forum found itself back in New York City, in the midst of the biggest fashion event of the year. The show brought together some of the most innovative marketers and creative strategists across the apparel, footwear, beauty and retail sectors. During our attendance, PM Digital executives were able to gain valuable insights into the most relevant marketing issues these industries face today. Hot button topics included: mobile strategy, and how the mobile device continues to shift the retail landscape, the changing ‘story’ of luxury and the overall increased expansion into digital across the board.

Before we get into these topics, here are a few soundbites we heard at this year’s Digital Forum:

Marc Rosen, EVP and President of Global eCommerce at Levi Strauss, explained, “The term omnichannel will go away. Consumers don’t recognize it. They are channel-agnostic, and see only one channel.”

We couldn’t agree more. Just as marketers seek to gain the ‘single-view’ of their customers, the customers themselves engage through a series of interactions that ultimately build one single experience of a brand. Regardless of the device or point of the purchase they are on, customers see one brand in one channel.

“This business is difficult. You are a ballerina and a marine. It’s art and science.” This comes from Johanna Murphy, Global Chief Marketing Officer of Rag & Bone.

We love this analogy. Today, marketing is very much about the convergence of art and science, where data lends insight into the stories that ultimately evoke emotion and form a connection. Challenging, no doubt, but the opportunity is here, and it’s exciting!

In addition to dominating the luxury footwear space, Christian Louboutin is proving itself to be a mega-star on social media, specifically Instagram. With 5.3 million loyal followers, @Louboutinworld is the third fastest-growing footwear brand on the photo-sharing network, behind athletic powerhouses Nike and Adidas.

Big shout out to Louboutin for their mega-success in social media!

Now let’s take a look at 2 major themes that seemed to shape some of the discussions at this year’s Digital Forum:

Mobile Continues to Shift the Landscape

Mobile is certainly shifting the way consumers experience brands, and so the values associated with these experiences have also transformed. Today, convenience, ease of navigation and fast access are at the top of a consumer’s list for internet experience. But they have also challenged their favorite labels to meet heightened expectations for visual and artistic content – creativity, interactivity, customization, video and imagery, both in ecommerce and on social media, are of the utmost importance to them.

Mobile may house the majority of traffic (57%), but desktop still holds the top spot for purchase. This is partially due to a lack of mobile optimization, something that retail brands are still figuring out. Adjustments must be made to streamline the shopping experience, from top-of-funnel all the way down to the sale. Internet powerhouses, Google and Facebook, in addition to other critical social media players, Pinterest and Instagram, have implemented simple, one-click buttons to bridge the gap that exists between mobile browsing and purchasing. To compensate for these easy pathways, retailers need to rethink their strategies for making the customer journey as seamless as possible.

A New Story for ‘Luxury’?

Elevated prices, maximum quality, superior customer service, a certain fine-tuned aesthetic – these are all familiar components of luxury brands and the luxury retail experience. While there are still key demographics for luxury retailers to target, overall growth in the sector is lagging, and consumers continue to demand more high value experiences. So how can the luxury retail market re-tell its story and re-form meaningful relationships with customers?

An important opportunity lies in the Millennial population, which is of course the central target for almost any retailer. But luxury marketers in particular have a unique chance at appealing to the emotion of aspiration in millennials, especially those who have not yet acquired the wealth and status they perhaps envision for themselves. Thinking about ‘entry-level’ products, like makeup or fragrance for example, may serve as an early relationship builder between a young consumer and a luxury brand. But today’s millennial holds different values from the traditional idea of luxury, like self-expression, creativity and innovation. While they might not see the value in over-priced goods, they certainly care about image and perception. Telling stories that highlight original style and trend-setting is key to engaging this ultra-important customer segment. Redefining ‘luxury’ in a way that makes it more relevant to them is the way to ultimately build and sustain their loyalty. Through video and social media, marketers can capture the luxury lifestyle experience in a format more native to younger generations, in addition to continuing the overall digital presence.

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