By Abbie Cooper Davis
It has long been known that with the proliferation of fast fashion, online shopping has soared, leaving high-streets struggling to sustain their presence in retail. The societal anxiety symptomatic of Covid 19-has further exacerbated this issue, meaning that fewer people are visiting the High Street, instead preferring to browse online in the comfort of their own homes.
The changing nature of retail has caused some shifting requests with regards to PR and influencer involvement. Retail is becoming increasingly reliant on influencers to market their brands through new strategies, increasing their online engagement from housebound audiences. The limited ability to socialise and go out has enormously amplified social media traffic. According to Henry Williams, senior vice president of talent at Digital Brand Architects (DBA), the influencers under her representation are experiencing 20-50% increased views on their content. Brands anticipated this trend and so shifted their marketing techniques, implementing random and unique posts, a tactic known as, guerrilla marketing. However, Amber Venz Box, a blogger and tech entrepreneur has commented on an imminent stalemate within the industry, “One dimensional influencers – those with a single platform, single topic, single revenue stream – will fall away as collaboration revenue will become too unpredictable for a sustainable business and consumers will crave relatable talent.”
The issue of authenticity and interest is significant, as highlighted by Venz Box. Whilst Instagram can quantitatively measure the views and likes of social media posts, one should question how meaningful such engagement truly is. With the increased time spent at home during lockdown, limited variety day-to-day and increased access to devices, are people simply aimlessly scrolling on social without actually engaging with the abundance of similar posts available? Does scrolling simply become a monotonous activity, used to pass the time, rather than a means of inspiration for fashion?
The issues inherent to social media are not isolated to authenticity, but link to ethics equally. Brands becoming increasingly reliant upon influencers to sustain a sense of normality and target buyers has evoked ethical questioning for some professionals, notably the French Instagram Influencer, Monica De La Villardière, who spoke to Vogue about her social media-related guilt. When posting images that reflected life inconsistent with the boredom and misery symptomatic of lockdown she commented, “Instagram is all about beauty and voyeurism isn’t it? Surely the whole point of fashion’s favourite app – and the fashion industry itself, for that matter – is to inspire and be inspired, by everything that comes your way?”
The changing tactics of brand management and marketing – professionally termed ‘guerrilla marketing’ – aim to not simply inspire trends but to humour and entertain customers in order to spark more meaningful and memorable engagement. As brands seek to effectively interact with customers during the Covid-19 pandemic, adopting creative tactics can help to foster feelings of community. The influence of a successful campaign “lies in the element of surprise, humour and uniqueness”, according to Natalie Hughes, founding director of the social media agency, The Fashion Digital. “In an increasingly noisy social media space, brands have to think creatively – online and offline – to be seen, heard and, mostly importantly now, shared.”
During a period where traditional marketing techniques harness declining relevance amid declining footfall, guerrilla marketing has the potential to spark mass engagement. To deliver a successful campaign, brands must ensure a purpose behind their content that is worth being shared and enjoyed. A certain way to evoke entertainment, questions, and most vitally, attention, is through the unanticipated creativity of guerrilla marketing – organic and unique posts, worthy of promotion.
Image: Hassocks5489 via Wikimedia Commons