In the busy world of fashion, sometimes it can be really hard for brands to stand out. As we’ve seen in some other of our articles on our blog, what people say about your brand is the most important form of marketing. This is why we always advise entrepreneurs to begin their ventures by developing a PR office which can help you manage the relationship with the public. If you’re interested in this topic we discuss this in more detail in this article.
The growing relevance of word of mouth marketing is echoed by many types of research which show how – on average – as many as 50% of our decisions are based upon recommendations.
Word of mouth marketing is an essential tool to build your brand’s reputation and is a very important dimension of your brand strategy. At the same time, it’s not easy to understand what can a fashion brand do to manage their reputation and word-of-mouth rumours. In this post, we’re going to discuss this topic in-depth to explain how word of mouth marketing works and what can your fashion brand do to enhance its social currency.
The overlap between word-of-mouth marketing, social influencers and consumer behaviour is a complex maze to navigate, so we’ve decided to divide our article in a few sections to help you find exactly the information you’re looking for.
- How Word of Mouth impacts Consumer Behaviour.
- 6 Business Actions that Make Your Word-of-Mouth Marketing Skyrocket.
- 7 Elements to Identify the Perfect WOM Influencer.
1. How Word of Mouth impacts consumer behaviour.
As a starting point, it can be useful to identify the different areas of impact of consumer behaviour. Consumers, in fact, can be influenced in their shopping behaviours on the grounds of 4 distinct areas:
- Psychological. These elements can be connected to the customer’s emotions, and moods, which can strongly impact their decision to purchase. Brands both in online and physical retail have to be well aware of how to develop a relationship with the customers that is able to allow himher to bypass the rationallogial approach to purchasing, in order to be drawn into more impulsive buying habits. This is easier said than done, but if you’re interested in reading more about this, we discuss this topic at length in this article entitled: Emotional Purchases in Luxury.
- Personal. These elements of consumer behaviour are related to the individual and to hisher values, and sense of identity. These elements are growing in relevance in fashion branding, to the point that maisons are required to develop collections and product lines which are able to fulfil the expectations of new generations of customers who are bringing a new mindset to the market, one which is centred around values of sustainability and traceability. We discuss these elements in greater depth in this article, entitled New Customer Models in Fashion Sustainability.
- Cultural. These elements relate to the values in purchasing and consumerism which are affectedreflected by the cultural background of the customer. This cultural dimension is not only connected to the country, nationality or ethnicity, but it could come from a variety of cultural connotations, which may be linked to profession andor social class.
- Social. Last but not least, we have the social dimension of consumer behaviour, this is the one which is most connected to consumer behaviour. This dimension relates to the shopping preferences which are the result of our interactions in society, and the relationships we build with others.
Let’s now look into more detail into Word of Mouth marketing and how it works.
We could start by identifying this form of communication as a C2C, or customer to customer influence. In this case, we can see how certain customers become influencers as they take on one of three roles:
- Connectors. Connectors are people who have high social value, as they help to create social connections, thanks to their large network of relationships. These types of customers gain validation by displaying their connections to a wide set of people in their industry, which shows experience in the industry.
- Mavens. These types of influencers become opinion leaders because of their knowledge and expertise in an industry. As a result, they gain authority because of the in-depth knowledge they are sharing with their audience.
- Salespeople. These types of influencers are not necessarily experts, but because of their ability to convey the benefits of issues with a product become influential, as they are able to provide convincing arguments on why someone should buy or not buy a particular product.
Now that we’ve given some context it’s also important to provide a few disclaimers. As we discuss influencers and word-of-mouth marketing we need to remember that there are always a few intangibles that can impact the reach and effectiveness of word-of-mouth marketing.
- The Law of the Few. There is no clear-cut strategy to become influential or to identify influential people objectively, aside from the categories we have listed above it’s safe to say that many are called, but few are chosen. This is the Who factor in WOM (word of mouth) marketing.
- Some things just stick better. Certain products or brands are more WOM-friendly as they are talked about more, not necessarily because of entry controversy, but simply because of their message or positions better sticks to consumer’s conversations. This is the What factor in WOM marketing.
- The Power of Context. Some Brands are better connected to WOM marketing because the stories they tell provide a stronger appeal of fascination. This in fashion is particularly relevant as it connects to the Country of Origine effect that brands want to attach to their brands. This is the How Factor in WOM marketing.
Now that we’ve demystified the subject, we can move on to a much more practical analysis, or in other words, how can brands stimulate these rumours, and get spoken about, hopefully in the best way possible. In the next section, we’re going to talk about how brands can stimulate word-of-mouth marketing.
2. 6 Business Actions that Make Your Word-of-Mouth Marketing Skyrocket.
Word of mouth can be an important area of marketing and communication for your fashion brand. In order to understand how to invest more time and energy on building your brand’s reputation through word-of-mouth communication, it’s important to remember a simple rule.
Word of mouth communication is generated by any business action that earns a consumer recommendation. But what could be these actions more specifically? Here’s a list that can help out focusing on what matters the most.
- Great Products. There is no doubt about it. If you’ve got a great product, your customers are going to talk about it. Providing exceptional value to the market, and making an impact on people’s lives can really get them to talk endlessly about your brand. Making sure you spend extra time on developing excellent value to your customers is a sure-fire way to build a great reputation.
- Great Customer Experience. We do not only buy fashion garments for the need to shelter ourselves from the weather, but we also buy fashion products because we want to assert our identity, communicate and express ourselves. We want to give value to ourselves and in a way reward ourselves. These could be only some of the motivations to purchase a fashion product, but one thing is for certain, the process of purchasing a product should be as great as the product itself. A great purchase ritual or a welcoming and entertaining store experience can go a great length into making our customers talk about their shopping experience.
- Rewarding Loyalty. Rumours and recommendations are not only for new clients, but they can be for established customers too. How to leverage the power of their loyalty? No better way than to celebrate them and make them feel special. Rewarding customer loyalty can be a great way to spread the messages of your brands and getting your customers talking.
- Engagement in Social Media. Social media plays an important role in this equation. A social media profile can help you personify your brand and reach through individual conversations each and every customer on the web. By engaging in conversations, and building an online rapport with your audience you’ll build a relationship of familiarity and ignite your word-of-mouth communication.
- Great Advertising. Advertising can really touch upon the right strings and get your brand to talk loudly. Commercials can be controversial, spark a debate, show what the brand stands for. Great advertising can achieve the effect of imparting your Word-Of-Mouth communication and achieve long-term impact.
- Mobilizing Brand Advocates. If you get enough people to become loyal customers, your online presence will get a strong advantage, as when people will go to social platforms to lash out their frustration, some of your loyal customers can speak up and defend you. This will not only help to protect your online reputation but more than that it will show the strength of the relationships you have built with your audience.
Great, now that we’ve got that covered let’s move on to see what are the 7 elements that make a word-of-mouth influencer successful.
3. 7 Elements to Identify the Perfect WOM Influencer
So now that we discussed what can your fashion brand do to impact its reputation both online and offline, let’s see what are some of the key features that influencers should have in order to impact their audience’s shopping preferences.
- Credible. The first element necessary to influence an audience is to show authenticity. If a person is perceived as having ulterior motives to recommend a product, hisher message will be ineffective. This is why professional influencers who have hundreds of thousands of customers may not be very effective, while small-scale influencers can be seen as having a more personal connection with their audience.
- Expert. As we discussed, there can be different sources of authority, in terms of influencing people’s shopping habits, however, expertise can go a long way, as it’s an effective approach to informing your audience about what to buy or what not to buy.
- Prone to Try New Things. Influencers are always looking for the “next thing”. This is why influencers are often early adopters or customers who buy products before everybody else so that when the rest of the public gets to a new gadget they can already provide experience-based advice.
- Educated. As an influencer, you role entails for great communication skills. This is why, in many cases, education plays a role in terms of developing a voice which is well connected to your audience.
- Sociable. Because of the nature of the platforms where influencers engage with their audiences, being social is pretty much a necessity in order to develop a following and make connections.
- Involved in the Industry. In many cases, influencers do not only provide shopping recommendations but actually participate in the industry. This is an important aspect of their work as it allows them to further validate their opinions and advice.
- Strive for being different while being similar to their audience. Influencers need to be able to resonate with their audience and to do this, they need to reflect their audience. At the same time, they need to be able to stand out, in order to gain traction and attract new followers.
Alright, so that’s it. It’s now time to move on to conclusions in order to summarise the most relevant points of our article.
The relevance of word-of-mouth marketing cannot be understated. As more than half of our purchases are recommendation-based, it’s clear how a good reputation is a key to lasting success. In this post, we provided an extensive account of the impact that word-of-mouth has on a fashion brand’s reputation, and to this end, we’ve addressed the following points:
- First and foremost, we’ve discussed what is word-of-mouth communication and how it fits into the consumer behaviour as an essential factor in determining our shopping preferences.
- We then moved into the “battlefield” to discuss what things really get customers talking and in what way can brands look after their customer reputation. In this context, we’ve seen how customer service is a really important element of your business strategy, and how it needs to be really on point for your brand to succeed.
- Last but not least we’ve looked at what makes an influencer influential, and what traits can help us identify the right customers to invest upon to make their opinions heard.
We hope this post was helpful, don’t hesitate to search more into our blog, for additional content on fashion marketing!