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customer advocacy in fashion retail

Customer Advocacy: The Fashion Industry's Secret Weapon

Andy Cockburn
By Andy Cockburn — December 11, 2023 -

Read time:  2 mins

In the world of fashion, success isn't solely about the quality of clothing or who does the best job of anticipating the season's trends.  Much of your success actually depends on what your customers say about your brand to their friends and family - whether they recommend, share and advocate for your latest range of products.

With Mention Me’s experience collaborating with over 250 fashion brands for more than a decade, we’ve seen first hand the game-changing power of customer advocacy.  Nurturing your brand fans to work on your behalf to share, refer and recommend is a vital factor that can make or break brands in the highly competitive fashion landscape.

 

The challenging economics of fashion retail

The core economics of fashion retail are challenging. From high customer acquisition costs (particularly if you have a physical presence), low repeat rates from first to second order and very high return rates, there is no shortage of challenges.

Maintaining a balance between customer lifetime value (LTV) and customer acquisition costs (CAC) is critical and has been almost impossible over much of the last five years as we’ve gone through COVID and then soaring inflation. For those leaning in on it, customer advocacy is playing a crucial role in addressing these challenges and providing a competitive edge in this challenging sector.

 

The role of customer advocacy in transforming economics

Customer advocacy is a game-changer in reshaping the economics of a fashion brand. Leveraging existing customers to attract new ones on a larger scale transforms a brand's LTV:CAC. Referred customers come in predisposed to liking and trusting the brand so they spend more on their first order (on average 13%), stick around longer (double the LTV) and they are more likely to refer another customer (three times more likely).

While everyone knows about the power of word of mouth, it used to be that fashion brands couldn't identify fans at scale and therefore get them working on their behalf.  But with Mention Me's Customer Advocacy Intelligence Platform, it becomes possible to identify, nurture and activate your fans for the first time. 

This brings the new discipline of 'Advocacy Marketing' to your mix alongside your normal customer marketing tactics.  By identifying and empowering existing advocates, while nurturing new ones, brands can acquire high-value, loyal customers at a fraction of the traditional cost, essentially rewriting the rulebook and establishing an enduring competitive edge.

 

Advocacy is agnostic to fashion categories

Whilst there is a small difference in how different sub-categories perform when it comes to fashion. (For instance, luxury and children’s fashion typically generate more referrers and advocates than other categories).

The reality is that other factors play a far greater role in driving success in customer advocacy. For example, we have had the good fortune to work with two seemingly similar nationwide shoe retailers in the UK. To the uninformed they would appear to be very similar businesses.

However, one of them enjoys eight times more customer advocacy than the other. This difference is clearly not because of the category, instead it is due to the superior customer experience and the level of effort the business has gone into to generate customer advocacy.

In general, a captivating brand story and exceptional customer experience will elevate advocacy far more than the specific fashion category.

 

How BrandAlley has won with Customer Advocacy

The journey of BrandAlley showcases the transformative power of customer advocacy marketing. Over the last five years BrandAlley have been on a journey from focussing on Customer Service, to Consumer Loyalty and now they’ve made it all the way to Customer Advocacy. They now no longer refer to VIP customers and instead focus on VIAs (Very Important Advocates).

By prioritising customer advocacy, and using the Mention Me Customer Advocacy Intelligence platform,  they've witnessed remarkable results. Referrals not only bring in high volumes of customers but also significantly more valuable ones.

By using Extended Customer Revenue to understand true customer value, they know that a customer who refers is worth 4.5x more to the brand than those that don’t. They know that referred customers are 1.9x more likely to repeat, spend 63% more than other customers in their first six months and they are 3.8x more likely to introduce another customer.

BrandAlley's remarkable growth, tripling orders in the last five years, underscores the potency of an advocacy-focused strategy in fashion.

 

How to win in a downturn

In today's challenging fashion landscape, customer advocacy emerges as a potent weapon, offering brands a way not just to survive but thrive. Our experience at Mention Me emphasizes the critical role advocacy plays in reshaping brand economics, fostering growth, and surpassing competitors.

For fashion brands navigating turbulent times, investing in customer advocacy is the key to weathering the storm and emerging stronger in a recovering economy.

Those that don’t invest now are not only missing a  significant boost in these challenge times, they’re missing the rocket fuel that will help them accelerate back to growth and outstrip their competitors when the good times return.

To understand how to deploy customer advocacy marketing for your fashion brand , talk to one of our experts today and we'll help you get started.

 

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