Fashion Brands Poised to Cross the Digital Divide

Full-​page colorful ads placed in consumer magazines have long been the way to brand and promote fashion. Many industries have successfully transitioned, as least in part, to online advertising. But a recent article in Women’s Wear Daily points out that fashion houses aren’t “clamoring to place their ads on the Web.”

Part of the problem is that early adopters in the industry turned to unimpressive banner ads. But now that other online options have been more fully developed, especially video delivery, writer Lisa Lockwood says that “the whole definition of advertising is being turned upside down.” While fashion marketers are accustomed to grabbing consumer attention with full page print ads, it’s difficult to take over an entire page online for an ad. However, some point out that the graphic capabilities of devices such as the iPad have improved Web-​based imagery. Industry expert Kyle Acquistapace, executive vice president of media planning at Deutsch Los Angeles says that fashion houses must advertise in multiple places to avoid the “one-​dimensional approach to marketing” and this will include a shift to digital.

To address the concern that fashion ads don’t stand out in the crowded Internet universe, more houses are trying to attract visitors to their sites by creating online content.  But many executives still believe that the online content lacks a call to action. Tim Calkins, clinical professor of marketing at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University says marketers need to get creative and find a way to generate consumer excitement about what they see online. This move will result in higher revenue.

As operators in other industries have found, moving the message online means opening a new channel of communication with consumers. When it comes to social media, fashion houses must give up the tight control they’ve had when crafting their image.This is a topic many senior managers are struggling with.

But there’s no denying that younger consumers aren’t using print at the same rate as older consumers. To stay relevant, fashion houses must continue to explore online media formats. Edward Menicheschi, publisher of Vanity Fair, says it best, “The key [to advertising] is to find a manner and message that is correct (and on brand) at each touch point.” Increasingly, this will mean putting more effort into the online channel as today’s younger consumers command more spending power.

[Source: Lockwood, Lisa. The World is Online. Women’s Wear Daily. 22 Jun. 2010. Web. 30 Jun. 2010] 
Kathy Crosett
Kathy is the Vice President of Research for SalesFuel. She holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Vermont and oversees a staff of researchers, writers and content providers for SalesFuel. Previously, she was co-​owner of several small businesses in the health care services sector.