Thursday, 30 October 2014

Brandy Melville taps into the Instagram Generation

Ever since completing our Innovative Marketing Strategies unit, I’ve been on the look out for brands that have truly embraced a ‘never done before’ marketing strategy. It was only until I was trailing through my ‘cool strategies’ bookmark folder (truly innovative name, I know), that I stumbled back upon an article I had read a few weeks back. The article profiled Californian womenswear brand, Brandy Melville, and mentioned some of the strategies that the brand had adopted to engage with its predominantly teenage girl target market.

The Brandy Melville Girls (Source: Brandy Melville Spring 2012 Lookbook)

Although the brand’s strategy is quite multi-layered, what stood out most was the fact that they actually employ a group of teenage girls who not only work in the retail end of their Santa Monica store, but make up the product research team, and also act as the faces of the Californian brand. These are girls that are tastemakers in their own rights, with large Instagram followings, and a pulse for knowing what other girls their age want to wear. It therefore makes great sense for the brand to actively leverage these insights so that they are consistently developing products that resonate with the Brandy Melville girl; “let's say there's a cut of a T-shirt that's doing really well, they'll ask our opinion on it. Do we like it? Should we make more? If so, what colours? Should we do long-sleeve? Short-sleeve? Cropped? Not cropped? Would this T-shirt be better in this material? There's all kinds of things that we get asked, and we give our honest opinion.”

The ingenuity of this strategy is that they have effectively humanised the brand and made it both tangible and accessible. Fans of this brand can engage with the ‘Brandy girls’ on the brand’s Instagram (as well as the personal accounts of each girl), and then further engage with them in store. However the obvious danger of this strategy is in achieving consistency in the brand experience when dealing with the ‘Brandy girls’, as well as the risks associated with leaving your brand in the hands of a group of teenagers.

Having said this, the overall idea has merit, and the key takeaway is that you don’t have to go far to search for valuable insights; the people who deal directly with customers often have a good idea of what they want, and so it’s just a matter of being open to collaboration, and fostering the right culture within an organisation in order to leverage what your employees truly have to offer.

Salil Kumar
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

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