Brand Knew Ep. #1: Discovering Fashion Consumers w/ Aimée Lapic, former CMO of Banana Republic

In the past five years, online consumer attention has shifted dramatically. In 2012, consumers spent 4.3 hours a day online, with 36% of that on their mobile devices. Today it’s 5.6 hours a day, with 54% on mobile [Source: Mary Meeker Internet Trends] That requires a shift in the marketing strategies of fashion companies, as consumers discover fashion inspiration in new places.

While consumers were changing, so was the competition, with the emergence of subscription model fashion companies such as Stitch Fix and LeTote. These companies try to combat high return rates by predicting what their customers will decide to keep – an approach that may eventually be their undoing.

On this episode of the Brand Knew podcast, Aimée Lapic reveals how she responded to these challenges as CMO of Banana Republic, and provides perspective on the challenges facing the new model fashion companies.

Excerpts of Aimée’s interview below.

On the Banana Republic customer:

“I found out that Banana Republic, at the time, did not know who their customer was. They thought that the customer really was looking to Banana for fashion guidance and advice and inspiration. And instead the customer had moved beyond that and was more about expressing themselves through fashion. They were very self-confident people. They did not dress for one occasion versus another – they dress to accentuate their personalities and what they were looking for in a brand such as Banana Republic is a partner in that.”

On the shift from traditional advertising to digital:

“When I inherited the role about 80% of our media was focused on what I call traditional media, print magazines out-of-home advertising, even radio. And quickly I changed that structure to be 90% focused on digital marketing and about 10% focused on still the traditional marketing because that’s where the customer was looking for fashion inspiration. For example, something like 30% of customers at Banana Republic received their inspiration from social media websites.”

On which fashion companies are winning ecommerce:

“I do think there are smaller companies that are willing to take risks in how they go to market and how they meet customer needs that seem to be winning. For example, like a Stitch Fix. According to public information they are close to a billion dollars now in sales which is a super-fast growth rate. I think what makes them win in this ecommerce space is the idea that they’ve taken the risk out of not being able to try on clothes having easy returns for different customers. They’ve put a lot of focus on the data algorithm that allows them to really understand what customers need in terms of fit and styling and types of clothes they like over time.”

On the challenges of a Stitch Fix or LeTote:

“I frankly think the biggest issue for the subscription based businesses over time is retention of customers. The reason the customers are signing up for a Le Tote or a Stitch Fix is because they want to try new things. They want new things in their closet without a lot of risk. Over time, does Stich Fix or LeTote represent new things anymore or does it become part of what their norm is? I think the reason people are attracted to them in terms of innovation may be their undoing over time unless they can continue to keep it really new and different.”

Join us for our next episode where we will be talking to Melissa Waters, VP of Marketing at Lyft, about the past and future of ride-sharing.

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