The fashionably-chic Hoxton Hotel, Holborn was a stylishly apropos location for Tuesday’s “The Future Of Fashion Retail” panel talk, hosted by Karinna Nobbs, a futurist at retail augmented reality agency Holition.
Fashion fans and industry experts came together during Social Media Week (Sept 11-15) to discuss the influence and impact artificial intelligence has on the industry and especially, how fashion has evolved with tech and new consumer experience journeys in retail.
Pictured: Karinna Nobbs and Adriana Goldenberg, Holition
The evening was an intimate sit down with fashion’s industry experts; director of the British School of Fashion Christopher Moore, Sefleuria data scientist Jessica Graves, designer Martine Jarlgaard, Stylus’s head of retail innovation and insights Katie Baron Cox, and Georgina Harding, co-founder of fashion and lifestyle e-commerce brand Semaine.com.
Each panellist kept the fashion-savvy crowd inspired with their own seasoned experiences in digital content and consumer trends. It was great to understand, from their first-hand perspectives, the role that digital content has in fashion retail and how it will adapt to the ever changing attitudes and behaviours of consumers over time. This fashion future forecasting is valuable to OMD Create, OMD EMEA’s content creation team within the agency. We as a team strive to deliver innovative strategy and content at the speed of culture for all our clients and to OMD EMEA at the heart of cultural innovation.
Pictured: Professor Christopher Moore, British School of Fashion
There were a few highlights that had many in the room taking rapid notes:
Make it personal
Personalised experiences are highly valued when it comes to fashion retail, both in store and online. It has become increasingly important for our clients to understand the needs of consumers in order to deliver successful campaigns within the digital space. In order to do this seamlessly, we must gain a greater insight of consumers at a psychological scale – behaviour and emotion.
It means going on gut instinct when marketers identify cultural content trends that are gaining traction – and analysing consumer habits enables us to conduct effective targeting based on their past purchases and through sentiment we can identify how an individual resonates with a product or service.
Graves thinks personal data is very valuable. She says that data can help brands – and agencies that help them create content – recognise consumer interests and attitudes and the more data a brand has access to, the better. She went on further to explain that through the use of data we can provide improved retail services with a massive potential for the fashion industry.
Pictured: Jessica Graves, Sefleuria data scientist
Think outside the shop
The big takeaway idea from this talk was the idea of where the consumer purchase journey begins and ends. Once someone has bought your product, the opportunity to inspire, engage and entertain isn’t over. Brands and agencies have to continue to look at our consumers beyond the retail environment.
“Brands should think beyond the wearability of their products,” says Cox.“We need to open our minds and look at the wider picture.”
And she’s right: brands need to look past just highlighting a existing or newly launched product or service and try to understand where what the brand is offering fits within its key consumer’s life and consumption habits.
For fashion retail transparency is key. Consumers want to know everything about the brand they’re investing their money and passion into.
As a result, brands need to educate people on supply chains and the details behind production to help create open education and dialog between the brand and the consumer. “It’s a chance to give consumers understanding of the places and people that go into a product, says Jarlgaard.” She believes this will ultimately result in more “informed and empathetic” purchasing.
Pictured: Georgina Harding, co-founder of Semaine.com
What is the role of digital for future consumer experience and retail service?
It’s about authenticity. And according to Moore, the list of brands trying to reactively latch onto trends that don’t fit within real brand identity runs far too long. Brands often turn to AI for the sake of giving consumers an experience. “The irony of this is that what may be perceived as a good purchase journey may not translate to consumers themselves,” he says. He also highlighted that the key life benchmarks for female consumers is at ages 14 (puberty) and 51 (menopause) and these transitional times are “key moments when women are going through change” and open to new marketing messages.
Which underlines the main ethos that the team at OMD Create lives by: creating content that’s authentic, plugged into insights and moving at the speed of culture and tech. It’s easy to forget how fashion and purchase invention has quite literally changed the way we shop, watch movies and even date, says Harding. And, it’s important to remember that the likes of Apple, Netflix, Paypal and even Tinder are examples of how tech has changed how people consume fashion – now on their smartphones – and by proxy, digital content. “Digital is allowing us to choose and purchase fashion at the speed of culture through personalised shopping experiences,” she adds.
Admittedly there was an elephant in the room, with most of the panel raising their concerns over AI and how it potentially eliminates the “human touch” of the purchase journey. As much as fashion and tech evolves, people don’t want to lose the very thing that made them fall in love with fashion in the first place: feeling the weight and texture of the item you’re buying. While this is still in hot debate, it’s obvious that AI still proves to be an incredible breakthrough for sustainability in fashion retail and consumer habits in general.
Overall, encouraging the investment of AI will ensure a better product and a better conception of a brand’s product. Nailing this requires an understanding those we value and for OMD EMEA that is the target audience of each our clients.
Watch the recording of the event here. #SMWLDN #SMWFutureFeels
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