This is a photo of an ad used by The Body Shop to their campaign of Activate Self Esteem, in Australia.
While this campaign started in Australia in 2002 it is still being shared on Facebook today; a good friend of mine, who is a plus sized young lady, forwarded it to me last week.
I thought about this ad while I was reading an article this morning on Mod Cloth, a rule breaking new start up in women's apparel.
Mod Cloth breaks the rules as follows:
Broken Rule #1: Always organize merchandise in a way that makes sense.
Mod Cloth launches 25 to 50 new products a day randomly, and they thus create a reason for the consumer to visit their website more than once a day! One third of their customers return more than once a day and 5% of them visit more than five times a day! They basically threw out the age old tradition of a "catalog" by randomly adding new product regularly, and intermingling their products, thus increasing their impulse shopping potential and ensuring that they draw the consumer to products that the consumer might not necessarily consider in a traditional structured catalog format.
Broken Rule #2: Let the designer or buyer drive fashion trends.
Mod Cloth is riding the new concept of consumer centric retail, particularly with their Be The Buyer program. The key to their success is how they use Social Media to tap into the desire of consumers for individual style: They do not see Social Media as a marketing channel but rather as a channel to invite consumer participation; the message is "collaborate with us" not "buy from us" and for more on this concept you can read this Q&A with the CMO of Mod Cloth.
Broken Rule #3: Only measure success through conversion.
I have long argued that Social Media, from an apparel and or retail perspective, has totally changed the rules of advertising, marketing, and branding. If you view Social Media from the traditional advertising/marketing perspective you are going to be disappointed with the results.
Social Media is about engaging ones customer; this is a whole new way of thinking and one has to play hunches, develop new models, and test the results. You also have to realize that what works for one company and or industry might not be what works with your particular niche customer. Free shipping and discounts are traditional methods to generate sales but that is not a method to engage customers.
The reality is that B2C retail is now a new frontier: Where once there was one method to success now there are a variety of methods. Mod Cloth, like Threadless, another company I follow religiously, have been very successful in a very short time.
The reality is that they will have to continue to break the rules, as their current consumer base ages they will have to adapt to the tastes of an aging consumer while at the same time continuing to remain true to their initial concept and reinvent the concept for a younger consumer; if they do not then they will no longer represent a trend but rather be nothing more than a fad. Thus, the concept of a brand is not fixed but rather is always in a flux between being and becoming.