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Four Social Media Insights From the Women's Apparel Industry

by Gretchen Hoffman  |  
October 25, 2013

In the United States, the women’s apparel industry drives $175 billion annually. Most of these consumers now are engaging on social networks, and accordingly, many apparel brands have created a presence across Facebook, Twitter, and others.

When connecting and engaging with consumers on social media, though, content and accurate targeting of the audience is key.

To find out which channels really matter and how retailers can best use them to drive influence and revenue, we have released the second set of our analysis of our consumer study with Edison Research on which social channels are most influential. This time, we looked at all categories across apparel, and uncovered some very interesting findings:

Social Media Is Critical for Two Key Consumer Segments

The report surfaced two hot segments among female social media users: fashionistas (28% of respondents)---women who strongly agree with the statement “Fashion and beauty are extremely important to me”---and thesocial shoppers---women who strongly agree with the statement, “The brands and products my friends use influence my own purchase decisions.” Some 46% of fashionistas and 62% of social shoppers are influenced by Facebook in at least one apparel subcategory.

Tip: Identifying brand ambassadors are one of the best ways to amplify your brand message and lead to spikes in positive sentiment. Understanding the profiles behind your most critical consumer segments will help develop an influencer program within your social strategy.

Social Channel Influence Varies Across Apparel Subcategories

When discussing apparel and social media, not all channels are created equal. Our results found that to make decisions about career and special occasion clothing, they most frequently turn to experts on blogs and message boards. However, when for casual clothing, they trust their friends and what they see on Facebook. In active/fitness wear, visuals and friends’ opinions are both important---making Pinterest and Instagram standout social channels for these apparel categories.

Tip: Developing a social strategy will involve developing and maintaining a strong voice across multiple channels. However, understanding the conversations across each of these channels and the different influence they each wield is critical to tailoring your messaging and getting across the right message.

Twitter Is Not a Top Influencer... Unless Celebrities Are Involved

Despite Twitter not being a top influencer in any one category, it stands out as an influential channel for celebrity endorsements. A total of 75% of female social media users who agree strongly with the statement “You are more likely to use brands or products associated with celebrities you like” have Twitter profiles.

Tip: Working with a celebrity spokesperson can result in huge spikes of buzz, positive sentiment, and brand awareness. Make sure that your efforts go the extra mile by crafting a Twitter strategy involving your spokesperson.

Hispanic Female Social Media Users Influenced By Visual Channels

Hispanic female social users also index high for social influence in the apparel categories analyzed. That especially holds true in the visual channels. In the casual clothing subcategory, Hispanic female social media users are 71% more likely to look to Pinterest for inspiration than female social media users overall and twice as likely to look to Instagram.

Tip: If Hispanic female are a key target audience for your brand, so make sure that visual marketing on Instagram and Pinterest is part of your social strategy.

Overall, social media matters for influencing apparel purchases, and pictures speak louder than words. If you’re an apparel brand, you must know who your influencers are and engage in the conversation because your most valuable consumers turn to visual fashion blogs and message boards for inspiration. For marketers, those channels are full of intelligence for campaign tracking, new product launches, purchase intent, competitive differentiation, brand health, and much more.

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Gretchen Hoffman is the vice president of Marketing for NetBase.

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