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Social media overtakes catwalk's influence, finds John Lewis

The influence of social media, bloggers and vloggers is creating highly visible and instant sales peaks for womenswear, John Lewis’s third annual report into consumer behaviour has revealed.

Images shared via social networks such as Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest are now more influential than celebrities and models on the catwalk, which were previously the main inspiration for style, according to the John Lewis Retail Report, published on October 16.

“When something catches the attention of the public on social media, the reaction is much more instant and visible than we saw previously when a model wore something in a magazine,” said John Lewis commercial director Paula Nickolds. “In December, Fearne Cotton wore a Somerset by Alice Temperley dress on BBC’s Children in Need and we saw a 1,600% increase in its sales the following week, which is just incredible. These kinds of instant peaks are unprecedented.”

Womenswear sales via mobile increased by 86% compared with the previous year, underlining a more impulsive ‘want it now’ approach.

John Lewis is calling today’s new breed of omnichannel consumer the ‘master shopper’, defined by their knowledge of how to find the right product at the right price, available how, when and where they want it.

“The master shopper is the confirmation of a trend that has been emerging over the last couple of years,” said Nickolds. “The consumer is now increasingly confident about and aware of the variety of channels available from retailers and how the shopping experience can be the most convenient for them.”

The report found that the average fashion customer interacts with John Lewis four times during a purchase, through a combination of researching online, browsing in store, researching online through other media outlets and home delivery. About 5% of shoppers interact more than 10 times during a purchase and Nickolds believes this figure will continue to increase.

“It shows just how on-the-ball retailers need to be today,” she said. “Getting the right content for each platform is a tough job for retailers but underscores just how savvy consumers are today. You need a degree of consistency, but also content that is appropriate for each channel. Consumers are much better informed, but there is so much choice that they still rely on a retailer to edit for them.”

Nickolds said the new concepts of Loved&Found, launched at the new Birmingham Grand Central store and online last month, and Denim Wardrobe by Trilogy, which was introduced at the Peter Jones store in London’s Sloane Square in January, have been well received by customers: “We’re really pleased with how they are both working and this is the direction we’ll be moving in in future.”

Sales of the Trilogy denim offer, which includes premium and contemporary denim labels J Brand, AG and Paige, are 32% ahead of expectations, although Nickolds declined to give specific figures.

“The Birmingham store is trading ahead of budget and Loved&Found is ahead of the pack,” she added.


John Lewis social network growth since July 2014

  • Instagram - 338%
  • Pinterest - 68%
  • Twitter - 68%
  • Facebook - 14%

John Lewis social media channels in order of popularity

  1. Facebook - 865,348 followers
  2. Twitter - 243,859 followers
  3. Instagram - 38,364 followers
  4. Pinterest - 12,900 followers


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