This article was originally written for, and appeared in, Fashion’s Collective (www.fashionscollective.com)
I was honored to speak at the FashionForward Digital Conference held at New York’s Crosby Street Hotel on October 27th. A collection of many of the brightest minds in the fashion digital arena assembled during the day to share innovative thoughts on the state of the industry through the lens of social media, digital design, branded content, digital advertising, and luxury consumer behavior defined through cognitive anthropology.
In the midst of the collective intelligence gathered across such a wide range of topical interests, where did the subject of the emerging mobile arena fit in? Are fashion brands seriously considering the implications of this new communications platform? If so, did they have a solid strategy of how best to succeed? With so many questions within the room, I was tasked with discussing the varied strategies associated with mobile sites, apps, and commerce for fashion brands. I’ll provide a recap of the discussion for our valued readers of Fashion’s Collective, but for those of you reading this piece without the fortune to have been in attendance, do yourself a favor and attend the next conference by any means necessary.
When discussing the strategic importance of mobile sites or apps and how best to utilize them in the brand marketing portfolio, one must first understand the mindset of the consumer. What causes an individual to choose one path to engagement over another? The prototypical mobile web consumer is utilitarian in nature. She often shops from a broader portfolio of brands. She engages with the brand on her mobile device in limited time intervals, searching for her intended object of consideration and, in a best case scenario, proceeding through the purchase path as simply and expediently as possible. As such, effective mobile website design principles adhere to the philosophy that there is elegance (and competitive advantage) in speed and simplicity. Quite simply put, as Leonardo da Vinci once wrote, “simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”
Whereas the typical mobile web consumer is more hurried and prospectively less loyal to a limited subset of brands, the prototypical mobile application consumer is part of a far more loyal, engaged, and attentive audience set. She looks to the brands she covets for style guide expertise and depends on the brand as definitive experts. As such, she will spend more time interacting with the brand through the native app downloaded to her device, viewing video content, style tips, and look books. The native functions of the smartphone devices can more effectively be utilized within an app construct, allowing consumers to use the native camera to scan images of QR codes to launch compelling mobile marketing campaigns.
The underlying theme of the discussion, however, was an undeniable truth. Regardless of which side of the aisle you stand in the debate between mobile sites and apps, mobile is here and it is now. Suffering analysis paralysis veiled in warring ideology of which solution suits the brand more appropriately will not get any brand closer to mobile success. One of the evolutionary societal trends that mobile is driving is a migration away from a tethered desktop web environment and getting consumers out into the world again. In no other industry segment is this more important than in fashion. Your consumers are no longer stationary targets, so stationary methods of interacting with them no longer apply. Those brands that take first mover position with innovative and engaging mobile offerings will be those who endear themselves most to this new base of connected consumers. Please plan accordingly.