By: Kelly Ahern, guest blogger
As we embark upon this bold New Year, many have been making predictions about what to expect from the fashion industry in 2011.
Although weâ€™ve slowly seen possible styles emergeâ€”from 70s glamour, biker-chic accessories and array of cropping, lace and tassel detailsâ€”fashion trends go way beyond the actual textiles.
One of the most popular trends to take the fashion realm by storm this year was the ever-successful brand generated content strategy.
In a recent Mashable post, the online media source suggested that retailers would continue to harvest the momentum gained from branded content, by making three very strategic shifts in 2011.
While various brands approach the branded content tactic in different ways, it was left up to Susan Etlinger of The Altimeter Group, to hash out what all fashion brands must do to find success in this era of multi-media digital marketing.
Topping the to-do list: dialogue. Consumers expect 2-way communication when engaging with fashion brands they know and love.
From social networking sites, brand blogs and viral videos, customers want to feel like they are part of a conversation.
What else keeps a consumer coming back for more? Consistency. Maintaining a consistent brand experience no matter where a customer happens to be, or what they may be doing is vital.
Consumers want to be able to shift between media channelsâ€”from web, mobile, print and broadcastâ€”this shift can and will happen instantaneously as a customer continues about his or her day.
Shoppers expect a constant stream of communication and one that not only is reliable but is nearly identical to previous positive experiences with the respective brand.
The overall message that Mashable and Etlinger stressed: â€œto reach this new empowered consumer, retailers now need to think in three dimensions: social, cross-channel and local.â€
Now enters the ever-powerful, brand generated content strategy.
From online content-driven magazines and blogs to conversation savvy micro sites like Twitter and Tumblr, branded content is quickly emerging as the forerunner for a successful, cost-effective online marketing strategy.
The fashion industry is grappling with a long-term approach that will continue to help strengthen both brands and retailers, while also being innovative enough to keep online consumers engaged.
According to Mashable / Business, â€œbranded content creation serves several purposes: customer entertainment, stealth advertising and social engagement. Brands that excel at this take branded content a step further, making it a tool that bloggers and other online magazines can use for their websitesâ€.
There certainly are many fashion houses and labels that are proving successful at the branding game, but what about one of the true O.G.s?
Giorgio Armani has got to be the ultimate fashion brand.
Owned and operated by the designer, Giorgio Armani has worked tirelessly to earn the much coveted spot at the top of the fashion A-list. It has carved out its own space within the fashion industry thanks in great deal to its superior design, relevant, interesting themes and trendsâ€”and certainly because of its capability to keep the consumer actively engaged and in love with its products.
Giorgio Armani maintains its stronghold at the helm the fashion realm because of the labelâ€™s ability to convey itself as a true, high-quality luxury brand. Not only is it one of the most well respected and idolized names in fashion, but the brand is also one of the most highly valued companies in the world with a price tag of nearly 3 billion Euros.
The brandâ€™s architecture is built upon the Giorgio Armani signature line, Emporio Armani, Armani jeans and A|X Armani Exchange. Managing these fashion entities has been fairly easy for the brand, relying on high quality campaigns and consumer trust carried the Armani name far.
But, like many fashion brands in the 21st century, the time has come where relying on the old ways of marketing just simply wonâ€™t cut it anymore.
Back in August, Little Pink Blog unveiled A|X Armani Exchangeâ€™s move into the 3-dimensional world, with its â€œ2020 Speed/Styleâ€ campaign, created to launch its Fall 2010 line.
The brand fully embraced the digital world and has expanded on its branded content strategy even further. In 2010 A|X also launched its next multi-media branding move: A|X STYLEPAD.
This interactive digital portfolio contains behind-the-scenes access to the super stylish world of Armani Exchange. It was best described as â€œa brand destination where users navigate through a specially designed online flash-book to experience multimedia content of the current A|X seasonal campaign with exclusive content and features that include: interviews, videos, photography and A|X music,â€ in a post by Desinformado.com.
Not only is this a great example of quality consumer engagement, but the feel of â€œinsider accessâ€ that the customer receives is valuable beyond words.
Armani didnâ€™t stop there.
The brand then launched another round of viral video meant to promote their â€œFrames of Lifeâ€ campaign. Their eyewear collection, entitled Direct and Shoot was showcased on the Giorgio Armani website in a black-and-white two minute interactive masterpiece.
The first minute of film was geared toward the male consumer, with the second half target toward woman. Both the male and female characters were shown wearing the 80s-inspired round frames, as they went about their day-to-day activities.
This simple, classic video conveyed the eyewear as the go-to glasses for everyday luxury.
What many consumers didnâ€™t expect was the opportunity they would be presented with. When viewers clicked â€œDirectâ€ they could single-handedly customize their experience. They could pick and position a list of available screen shots and could chose the order in which they were played.
This brave new interactive marketing approach really used the power of â€œviralâ€ to its advantage. After creating their own video, consumers could send their footage via email or Facebook, making them an integral piece in the marketing strategy.
Armani is just one of the many brands that is going the extra mile and striving to put the â€œactiveâ€ in interactive marketing campaigns.
2011 has the potential to further enhance a labelâ€™s need for innovative, branded contentâ€”it certainly is going to be the consumer fashion marketing trend to watch.
Kelly Ahern is a recent Roger Williams University graduate living in New England. Graduating with a degree in Communications-Public Relations and a Core Concentration in Italian, Ahern is an aspiring PR professional who loves social media, fashion and traveling. Currently she is a Social Media Architect for a Rhode Island-based digital marketing firm. You can find her on Twitter @Kelly_Ahern.
Little Pink Blog & Little Pink Book PR are federally registered trademarks of Little Pink Book PR, LLC. Â© 2009-2011 Little Pink Blog & Little Pink Book PR. All Rights Reserved.