Retailers are turning to Snapchat as their latest mouthpiece for reaching millennial shoppers.
Once seen as a social media site predominantly used by teenagers for sexting - sharing sexual content - due to the short lifespan of its picture messages, Snapchat has now come of age and is attracting a growing pool of retailers who are turning to the platform to engage millennial shoppers.
Predominantly a testing ground for the more socially-innovative young fashion retailers, the app, which has more than 100 million monthly users and enables them to share images and videos that are then deleted after between one and 10 seconds, has already attracted the likes of New Look and Asos.com.
The etailer joined Snapchat in 2013 and has been gradually growing its involvement, sending posts including discount codes and snaps of outfit ideas to tap into its core demographic - about 70% of Snapchat users are female and 71% are under 25. New Look recently used the app to call on its followers to share pictures of its Discover Denim bus, which has been touring the UK, in order to win vouchers.
But it’s not just the preserve of young fashion retailers - upmarket designers are getting in on the action.
Womenswear and accessories brand Michael Kors used Snapchat during New York Fashion Week last month, relying on the app’s Our Stories feature - which enables users attending the same event to contribute snaps to a larger feed creating a real-time stream - to offer its followers exclusive content from the designer, the models, the backstage team, industry influencers and show guests.The brand said the move was aimed at providing “real-time, authentic content”.
Lisa Pomerantz, senior vice president of global communications and marketing at Michael Kors, says: “We’re always looking to tell our brand story on the platforms our fans are using and loving. Snapchat provided a unique opportunity to take our All Access Kors strategy a step further, allowing us to share intimate, behind-the-scenes moments from our runway show with fans around the world.”
Last November, lifestyle brand Lacoste launched a two-month long Snapchat campaign called #spotthecroc, which encouraged its followers to find the brand’s crocodile logo hidden in a series of five short videos, for a chance to secure a 20% discount.
Hannah Downes, ecommerce consultant at multichannel consultancy Practicology, says: “Snapchat users who follow you are likely to be fans of your brand, and so you can offer them special promotions to drive sales at times when you might not want to be on general promotion.
“Examples I like include Victoria’s Secret, which has sent out promotions that users have to screengrab immediately to show in store to redeem the offer. Retailers have the possibility to track the success of this type of promotion through redemption, although they may well not get data on individual customers who have participated in the promotion.”
But she adds: “In reality a retailer needs to already have brand awareness in order to gain followers on this platform [as users have to follow specific accounts]. So it’s likely to drive engagement with existing customers or ‘fans’ of a brand, rather than being a medium for consumers to discover brands or retailers to acquire completely new customers.”
James Abbott, ecommerce manager at country clothing retailer A Hume in Kelso in the Scottish Borders, is not yet using Snapchat but is monitoring its potential. “The fact that the media is short, sweet and cannot be accessed again does lend itself to having a captive audience at the point of viewing. Therefore it might be easier for brands and retailers to get their message across,” he says.
“I think it will challenge the marketing and content development teams in ways to create interesting, engaging messages that allow them to build campaigns. Teaser campaigns will work well but aspects that are more substantial will require more thought and effort.”
Last year, Snapchat started running paid-for ads with retailers including US department store Macy’s. It also bought tech start-up Scan, an app aimed at helping brands to use QR codes and beacons to market direct to shoppers, which would help retailers working with Snapchat to offer limited-time, location-based adverts and discounts. Clearly Snapchat has designs on becoming an ever-bigger force within retail.