High street retailers are utilising their seasonal press days for much more than just previewing new collections, now these events are a tool for crowdsourcing key trends both on- and offline.
Major brands such as ASOS, H&M and New Look are employing social media personalisation tactics to entice fashion editors and bloggers down to their press days for editorial commentary, exclusive imagery and influencer-driven content, that in itself is driving brand followers. Here’s a top 10 run down of who had the best social campaigns and activity at the spring/summer 15 press days:
- ASOS – obviously ASOS is going to have the most sophisticated digital attraction at its press day, it lives online! Visitors to the 1/1 walk-in digital colour projection and print installation could create their own design (via a series of questions about moods and button pressing) for a personalized poster or t-shirt to take-away. ASOS also profiled its new social-influencers personal shopping service with a series of screens showing YouTube clips, introducing its team of dedicated stylists and their Instagram handles.
- H&M – one of my favourite press day attractions (organised by Reverb Events), H&M had everyone channeling their childhood paper-doll dressing activities with pre-cut outfit stickers that could be stuck to photos taken in the pop-up studio. To promote the retailer’s premium Studio capsule range there was a photo-studio and ‘craft’ table to showcase editor’s key picks and finished doll images that were instantly Instagrammable.
- Kurt Geiger – ‘You had me at Aloha’ was the give-away theme of Kurt Geiger’s evening press event held in Portobello’s Electric Cinema that was part Hawaiian themed festival and part press day. As if the chance to win a trip to Hawaii wasn’t enough pull, there was a grass-skirted Hawaiian band performance, surfer dudes, cocktails in coconuts and blow-up parrots as props for the all important Instagrammed shoes that had pride of place on the sumptuous seating.
- Boden – Boden takes the prize for the best VM displays where the springtime message ‘Great Boden in Bloom’, combined with a gardening theme provided the inspiration for colourful creative visual merchandising from carrots to clutches – all housed in a neon pop-up botanical shed.
- New Look – New Look’s press day was merchandised by trend drops and with phy-gital display screens such as ‘Magical Marrakesh’ to advertise each story, the layout was a lesson in editorializing the store floor. With a heavy focus on social media activities, the event featured a photo-booth and beach themed speech bubble placards as well as a ‘postcards from the edge’ story-board highlighting editor’s favourite pieces.
- Warehouse – via its Tales of the City blog, Warehouse was able to translate an urban online voice onto its physical press day presentation. There were Tales of the City trended rooms, look book imagery and a set of wardrobes that included interior screens playing videos on repeat of the clothes on the rails. The entire VM set will feature in varying degrees in stores and the dedicated video content hi-tech wardrobes will feature in flagship window schemes.
- Primark – the cavernous ex-car-park venue meant a huge setting for Primark’s press day – including a vote for duvet set prints station in the homewares area, and a mirrored beauty counter for the new cosmetics range (Poundland watch out) – not to mention footwear wall and trended womens, men’s and teen vignettes. The giant transparent look book images hanging from the ceiling added scale and drama to the setting while the floral selfie-station was a fun execution for a de-rigeur press day activity.
- Hobbs – Personalisation and creativity were the driving forces behind Hobbs’ approach to content sharing for its town-house setting press day. As editors snapped and posted their key pieces on Instagram, Hobbs mirrored the visual coverage with a growing collection of Polaroid snaps on a dedicated wall – documenting the most popular merchandise choices throughout the day. How can this be replicated in-store / online?
- Oasis – a charming walled garden (and café) was the well-manicured setting for Oasis’ press day complete with water fountain feature, stone pathway and named statues for key outfits. There was even a seedling and gift shop for press day trinkets. A well thought out theme from beginning to end.
- Arcadia – It was a full on botanical experience at this secret garden decorated venue, including hidden café and tropical photo-booth for OOTD shoots. Each of Arcadia’s brands had themed tableaux settings ideal for Instagramming key collection pieces. Over the two day event, press waxed lyrical about the Wonderland Events designed setting. My favourite was the free cactus station and the garden-party style café.
For many, the visual merchandising creativity of tableaux style settings is too hard to ignore. Today’s press days are one big photo opportunity and there were plenty of Instagram-friendly displays on offer at Boden, Kurt Geiger and Arcadia.
Pinterest-inspired image boards were also great Instagram-bait for retailers encouraging editors and bloggers to post their favourite pieces and start a conversation – both with physical Polaroids (at Hobbs), postcards (at New Look) and storytelling imagery (at Monsoon) as well as mashed up cut-out-and-stick digital iterations of editorial favourites (at H&M).
Special mention goes to the shoe-fie stations at Kurt Geiger and Dune, where dedicated image boards (complete with bare-chested surfer hunk at Kurt Geiger) ensured many of the visiting editors posted shoe-fies online.
Crowdsourcing product ranges
It was the piled up markers at Primark’s press day that got me thinking about how best to utilise all these early collection product reviews. Primark certainly had the volume of editor tags to make a difference to what products go into production and what might get cut, while Gap’s editor comment labels added influencer-style endorsements to products that look set to be popular.
What does it all mean?
Social media democratizes the previously exclusive experience of press days and previewing fashion collections up to three months in advance. Now consumers can see what’s coming up, they can get a head-start on key seasonal trends and ear mark products they want to buy. Personalization could be a major driver for ensuring retailers order the products their customers (and press) vote for after press days.
Perhaps retailers could start to introduce pop-ups in-store and online, for sneak peaks at next month’s merchandise drops. (Spoiler alert: Warehouse is already on it with its Tales of the City press day blog post and Oasis has a similar sneaky peak press day themed post here)
Consumers could start voting for what products they like (and don’t) via apps such as Whichit, that looks and feels like Instagram but gamifies the shopping experience, by asking users to vote for their favourite outfits. This data could easily be transferred into a forward planning tool, that tracks products with the most votes.