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How to crack advertising for your market

Castore founder Tom Beahon, Cat Footwear international marketing manager Gemma Little, and Sara Lewis, global brand director of Fashion Concierge at Farfetch gave insight on how to effectively navigate the changing advertising landscape at today’s Drapers Fashion Forum. 

What is your current strategy in advertising?

Tom Beahon: Our customer is slightly older – around 35 to 50 – will comfortably have a six-figure salary and isn’t checking Instagram 10 times day.

Therefore, we do invest pretty heavily in traditional PR. The type of customers you can square through those traditional platforms are valuable, with a higher spend and typically more loyal.

We’re also investing in sexier and glamorous content creating. It can work very well but interestingly there is an awful lot more for brands to learn around what the true cost of customer acquisition is – particularly if you’re acquiring lower-value customers who might not spend as much – so we combine traditional marketing with content creation.

Gemma Little: We were a traditional workwear brand with a 40-plus male consumer. For AW19 we’ve gone through a transition into the youth and sneaker market.

My strategy is purely focused towards cultural marketing: unique partnerships with influencers or publications to create interesting, credible and disruptive content, because that will push you towards to the top of social in terms of algorithms.

We also work closely with a lot of retailers as we don’t have ton of credibility yet with the youth market.


What makes for a successful collaboration between a brand and digital celebrity?

TB: Other than professional athletes, we have never paid anyone to wear Castore. The best way to define that is through partnerships. We have one with the Mandarin Oriental hotel group: when they have a VIP staying, we will send some kit to gift the guest, and, while there is no obligation to wear it, probably about 20% of the time, they will post something on social media.

Also, for our sports-specific categories, such as tennis and golf, we will identify a club. We don’t care if someone has a big following online but if they are influential in their micro-community they will receive product and wear it. It’s very effective and low cost.

GL: We’re not interested in community size or follower numbers, we won’t partner with anyone with an engagement rate below 2.9%.

We have a brand ambassador programme now where we will fund something that influencers are already doing or something that they would like to do but don’t have the resources to do it. It means we are just part of it and it’s not heavily contrived.

Sara Lewis: You need to find people who resonate with your brand that you trust, so you can let go of the reins. Essentially these people have incredible audiences that are engaged with them for a reason and are creating expert content.


How can you keep up with changing methods?

TB: We always look at offline first. We’ve just opened a store on King’s Road in Chelsea and did something similar in Knightsbridge last year.

The cost of online advertising is going up and the cost of having a store is going one way: down. We can now open a store in a one-tier location for a budget that would previously have been far beyond our capability.

GL: We need to stop thinking about social and influencer marketing as being untraditional. The big players’ prices are so high that only a handful of brands now can afford to pay them so their content becomes curated – which is what happened with print.

If you’re heavily curating your content through influencers, customers will see straight through that.

For SS20 our campaign is completely CGI generated, which will hopefully disrupt and take that youth market by surprise. Culturally relevant content is important.

SL: First work out who your customers are and be a bit adventurous. Pay attention to what’s happening and don’t assume that business as usual is going to continue that way, because it’s not.

Around 90% of Gen Z don’t trust advertising, and so in the way people consume media is going to go through a whole revolution.

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