Blog: Leonie BarrieSocial media and selfies sway fashion sales

Leonie Barrie | 21 August 2015

As if retailers didn’t have enough to contend with as they try to get to grips with doing business in a digitally-connected omni-channel world, it seems the rise of the “selfie” is also beginning to impact the way consumers shop.

“As it becomes normal for consumers to digitally document every aspect of their lives, camera-ready outfits are considered the new necessity,” explains Bernadette Kissane, apparel and footwear analyst at Euromonitor International.

This is particularly prevalent among the female millennial consumer group – a fact also picked up by analysts at Berstein Research who, as reported on just-style yesterday, forecast growth in spending on apparel by millennials (consumers aged 15-34 years old) is set to rise at double the rate of apparel spend overall over the next five years. They, too, attribute this to the 79% of millennials who use social media and share their lives with peers through selfies.

While hard to gauge the impact of social media platforms such as Instagram, Kissane says sales of apparel accessories grew by 5% globally in 2014 as shoppers update fashion looks without having to pay out for an entirely new wardrobe.

And value fast-fashion brands such as H&M, Zara and Primark are also seeing considerable growth as consumers increase the frequency of their purchases despite disposable incomes remaining the same.

Social media is more relevant to fashion than other consumer goods industries and is leading brands to expand beyond trending hashtags and create lucrative sales channels.

But Kissane notes that Facebook and Twitter, the two biggest social media sites, have tried – and failed – to introduce ‘buy buttons’ as shoppers have balked at the prospect of using a platform intended for socialising as somewhere to shop.

The latest social media player to announce plans to introduce a ‘buy button’ feature is Pinterest, allowing users to be redirected to external websites where they are able to purchase a desired item.

“Given that the concept of Pinterest revolves around ‘pinning’ images of garments and objects users admire, the ‘buy button’ seems a natural fit. Furthermore, there is already demand for such features, with applications such as Wanelo Inc, The Hunt and Dash Hudson informing Pinterest and Instagram users where they can purchase particular items.”

Social media sites centred on visual aspects have a clear advantage over those created for the purpose of sharing information, Kissane notes, adding: “It remains to be seen just how far these platforms can go in providing additional revenue for fashion brands.”

Sectors: Apparel, Retail

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