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The research examines the role of social media as a part of marketing communications strategy in the fashion industry. The aim is to develop a conceptual framework for marketing communications in the digital age, given the rise in importance of social media and the decline of traditional print media in terms of fashion influence.
Social media has radically altered marketing's ecology of influence. Moreover, through the rise of visual social media platforms in recent years, marketers are facing new challenges. Adopting an exploratory approach, our study combines interviews and content analysis to explore the managerial perspectives to brand storytelling through visual content site Pinterest and to assess its potential as a strategic marketing communications tool.
Social media have altered the communication landscape and significantly impacted brand communications in the luxury fashion industry. Research suggests that with the rise of social media, brand communication has been democratised, and the power has shifted from those in marketing to the individuals and communities that create and consume content, redistributing it across a variety of channels (Kozinets, Valck, Wojnicki, & Wilner, 2010; Kumar & Sundaram, 2012). Yet the implications of social media are still largely unknown among practitioners and managers. Moreover, there is a lack of effective frameworks for developing, analysing and comparing social-media strategies (Effing & Spil, 2016). Scholars have just started giving their attention to the subject of ‘social-media strategy' as such, highlighting a gap in our knowledge, which this study seeks to address. The aim of this research is to understand the role of social media as a strategic brand-communications tool in the luxury fashion industry. Firstly, the main theoretical contribution is the development of a conceptual framework that enables an understanding, explanation and description of the process of building a social-media strategy. There has been a call for this type of research from a managerial perspective, across multiple platforms and objectives, and this work provides much-needed insights. Secondly, the findings provide valuable managerial insights. The conceptual framework emerging from this research is a managerial tool that can be used to tackle the process of building a social-media strategy and to identify its key elements. In particular, the framework can be deployed to guide and evaluate the process of creating a social-media strategy. With the help of the framework, managers can harness their resources successfully and identify the factors that need to be considered. Moreover, the framework aims to guide managerial action towards a sustainable social-media approach that helps to build competitive advantage for global luxury fashion brands in the longer term.
The importance of social media is evident, as millions of people use it to connect withothers, share content and discuss different topics. Although it is clear that social media is powerful and ubiquitous, many fashion brands have been reluctant or unable todevelop strategies and allocate resources to effectively engage with the new media. Adopting an exploratory approach, our study provides a critical assessment of the use of social media by three international fashion brands, in order to identify its potential as a strategic marketing tool.
Launched in 2008 and 2010 respectively, Instagram and Pinterest are two of the fasted growing social media platforms with 220 million users combined (Leverage 2014, Techcrunch 2014, Loren & Swiderski 2012). Their success is due to their simplicity and a focus on visuals rather than text, furthermore they are described as platforms with strategic potential for fashion brands (Wired 2012). Despite this, many fashion brands have been slow to engage with them. However the Huffington Post (2012) suggests that the visual social media has a wide appeal with respect to both brand positioning and increasing awareness. Recent research by Mashable (2014) highlights that referral traffic and spend is higher from Pinterest users than Facebook users, and this contributes to the rationale for study. The aim of this reseach is twofold, firstly it is to explore the reasons for the utilisation of visual social media platforms within a fashion brands marketing planning cycle, and second it seeks to identify the strategic and operational ways in which fashion brands can use them. For the purpose of this paper only Instagram and Pinterest are investigated. Using a qualitative and inductive approach, the study will use in-depth elite interviews with 6 UK fashion brands (2 Luxury, 2 mid-market, 2 value) alongside content analysis of their platforms. This will enable the research to also consider how each platform can be harnessed at different levels of the market therefore contributing to the lack of empirical applied research in this area.