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How Levi's, Mr Porter, John Lewis and Ganni connect with customers in lockdown

Drapers looks at how fashion retailers and brands are getting creative to reach and engage consumers during the Covid-19 crisis

Deprived of physical channels and the usual triggers that encourage consumers to purchase – such as a sociable sunny bank holiday weekend – retailers are getting creative to connect with customers.

From online exercise classes and arts-and-crafts sessions streamed over social media to downloadable feel-good playlists, fashion is finding new ways to grab shoppers’ attention.

Necessity is often the mother of invention. Demand for new clothing has slumped during the lockdown, and even retailers who do not rely on bricks-and-mortar stores are feeling the pinch. Group sales at Asos, for example, were down by between 20% and 25% during the three weeks of trading to 8 April, during which prime minister Boris Johnson’s more severe social lockdown was enforced.

Put simply, consumers do not need new clothes to stay at home. Many are also reluctant to splash out on discretionary categories such as clothing amid financial instability created by furloughing schemes and widespread redundancies across different industries.

Consumer confidence may be crumbling, but fashion brands and retailers still need to find ways of staying front and centre of shoppers’ minds to ensure they are first choice when spending kicks back up again. Stuck at home for the foreseeable future, bored consumers are also desperate for entertainment. Retailers and brands who can successfully step into that void will be able to build a crucial sense of community and a relationship with shoppers that is more than purely transactional.

Drapers looks at how four retailers and brands are connecting with consumers amid coronavirus.

levi 5.01 corona virus social media

Afternoon delight at Levi’s

Denim giant Levi’s is offering shoppers some light relief and entertainment through new initiative 5.01 Live, named after its famous style of jeans.

The social media entertainment series is streamed directly from Levi’s Instagram channel every day at 5.01pm, and features performances from musicians, as well as customisation workshops and styling sessions.

Artists including Tom Speight and British band The Amazons have performed so far in the programme, which launched in early April.

It has also included sessions on how to add patchwork designs to denim. The brand has leveraged its connection with music – in the past it has run a mentoring programme for emerging artists, for example – to make relevant and entertaining content for followers in lockdown.

At home with mr porter

Domestic bliss at Mr Porter

Luxury menswear site Mr Porter introduced social media-based content series At Home with Mr Porter in early April. Streamed over Instagram, as well as via the retailer’s website and app, the series focuses on tips and techniques for staying happy at home.

Recent examples of content include a guide to grooming while in self-isolation, a working from home playlist, advice on organising your wardrobe and video calling app recommendations. On Instagram Live, Mr Porter has offered a cooking class with chef Eric Ripert and a Q&A session with US designer Sid Mashburn.

The retailer has been clever in it its use of many of its own editors and employees in the content – for example, asking editorial director Adam Welch for his lockdown wardrobe – which gives viewers to opportunity to connect with fashion’s insiders, and provides the business a human face.

At Home with Mr Porter works because it is relevant to the target customer’s interests, and offers useful and entertaining content.

A member of the John Lewis styling team

John Lewis styles personally

This month, the department store unveiled a new range of free-to-access virtual services. These include one-to-one video appointments with personal stylists over Instagram for wardrobe advice and virtual nursery and home decoration appointments.

It will also post Q&A sessions with experts on Instagram. Services offering nutritional advice and wine tastings are set to follow.

Offering virtual services is a sensible choice for John Lewis, which was already pitching itself as a leader in services before the pandemic by offering initiatives such as VIP in-store styling sessions and experiences including yoga sessions and expert talks.

The retailer can utilise its existing network of personal shoppers and in-store experts via its digital channels, both encouraging conversion during the lockdown and perhaps even driving footfall to in-store experiences once it has been lifted.

Ganni takes to the airwaves

Ganni has introduced a wave of new initiatives via Instagram during the lockdown, which started on 11 March in the contemporary womenswear label’s native Denmark.

These have included a live exercise class in which participants were encouraged to wear Ganni’s hallmark leopard print, an IGTV session showing followers how to create traditional Danish paper letters for Easter and a new podcast, in which the brand’s creative director, Ditte Reffstrup and her husband, former Ganni CEO Nicolaj Reffstrup, ask figures in fashion how they are coping in the pandemic. Guests have included stylist Katie Foley and blogger Leandra Medine Cohen.

Ganni prides itself on creating a close-knit community – including a tribe-like following via the hashtag #GanniGirls on Instagram – and has been quick off the mark at driving that sense of belonging among fans even as stores are closed and key stockists such as Net-a-Porter have closed their warehouses.


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