THE POWER OF FASHION BLOGS AS CUSTOMER TOUCH POINTS - PART II

Written by Kristina Liebold

Three Case Studies Of Today’s Blogosphere

The following case studies will show three examples of influential fashion blogs. Firstly, a brief outline of the blog background will be given and secondly, it will be shown how the blogs have managed to incorporate leading fashion brands into their blog communication by giving an example of one significant blog post each. 

#1 The Blonde Salad by Chiara Ferragni and Calvin Klein

Chiara Ferragni is an Italian blogger, born in Cremona in 1987. She started her fashion blog “The Blonde Salad” in 2009 after previously already sharing pictures of her own and friends’ outfits in online platforms. According to her website, Chiara “collaborates today with the major Fashion Houses, she appears in the most read magazines, she is the creative director of her shoe line” (The Blonde Salad, 2015) and has thus become a digital opinion leader to many of her followers. Chiara has over 1 million followers on Facebook, 3.2 million followers on Instagram and 226 thousand followers on Twitter, just to give an indication of the impact of further social platforms that are linked to the blogger. 

In February 2015 Chiara and Calvin Klein (CK) collaborated for one of her blog posts displaying her looks in eight photographs in Calvin Klein underwear with the title “In My Calvins”. That way the blogger became part of CK’s current social media campaign marked with #mycalvins. Here, customers can tag a photo of themselves in their CK underwear and post them online in the brand’s #mycalvins gallery. On the first day alone this triggered a conversation of 61 comments on the post and 9.8 thousand likes of the post linked to the blog post on Facebook. The post clearly states the brand and the items Chiara is wearing and links the post to the outlet where the products can be acquired. 

  Picture 1:   Chiara Ferragni for #mycalvins  (2015)

#2 Gary Pepper Girl by Nicole Warne and Valentino

The Australian-born Nicole Warne also launched her fashion, travel and lifestyle blog “Gary Pepper Girl” in 2009. According to her website: “Nicole is highly regarded in the fields of fashion, digital and social media, and e-commerce, collaborating with brands as a model, stylist, creative director, social media and brand consultant, digital influencer and ambassador” (Gary Pepper Girl, 2015). Nicole’s blog is typical for its big scenery photographs, displaying the blogger herself in different outfits. Nicole has 225 thousand Facebook followers, 1 million Instagram followers and 27.1 thousand Twitter followers.

In November 2014, Nicole posted a blog entry displaying a Valentino dress, coat and clutch in four photographs taken in Paris. The dress and coat are part of Valentino’s Women Spring Collection 2015, whereas the clutch belongs to an older collection. A short text by the blogger described a previous visit to the Valentino showroom and how she had been inspired by the new collection. The blog post received 83 comments and the Facebook post connected to this blog article received 1.162 likes. The blog gives a clear indication of the source of all items and links the bag straight to the Valentino online store, as the only Valentino item, that could be acquired at the time of the publishing of the blog post. 

Nicole Warne in Valentino (2014).jpg

Picture 2: Nicole Warne in Valentino (2014)

#3 Hanneli by Hanneli Mustaparta for The Coveteur

Norwegian born Hanneli Mustaparta, a former model, started her blog “Hanneli” in 2009 after a change in career from model to stylist (Hanneli, 2015). In an interview with French Vogue in March 2014, Hanneli describes her story and explains: “Now I have a whole lot of other stuff to do, like working with Calvin Klein (…) different brands want whatever my vision is (…) it’s about using your taste.” The blogger works with several brands as a stylist, model and photographer. Hanneli has 17.9 thousand Facebook followers, 180 thousand Instagram followers and 58.4 thousand Twitter followers.

In December 2013 Hanneli did a photo-shoot for The Coveteur, an online magazine, which contributed to a blog post on Hanneli during that month. Hanneli wore and promoted four different brands in her post: Philosophy Di Alberta Ferretti, Valentino, Calvin Klein Collection and Jennifer Fisher. All brands were linked to their original websites, though not to the respective product. Hanneli received 59 responses to her blog post, the post was not featured on her Facebook page

Hanneli Mustaparta for The Coveteur (2013).jpg

Picture 3: Hanneli Mustaparta for The Coveteur (2013)

The Proof: Bloggers Are More Than Self-Made Journalists

The three examples of leading fashion blogs show clearly: bloggers have become more than self-made journalists on the internet. Counting up to several million followers on blog related social media platforms; the impact of their reach is unmissable and their role as digital opinion leaders is therewith being highlighted. All examples clearly displayed fashion brands on their blogs, whether one brand was clearly put into focus (as seen with Chiara Ferragni and Calvin Klein and Nicole Warne and Valentino) or whether several brands were promoted in one blog post (as seen with Hanneli Mustaparta for The Coveteur, displaying Philosophy Di Alberta Ferretti, Valentino, Calvin Klein Collection and Jennifer Fisher). Hence, all three fashion blogs display customer touch points at the first stage of Edelmann’s customer decision journey, “consider”, as they display relatively new fashion items to the market or items that cannot yet be bought. The bloggers display a selection of fashion items and hence are filtering the content they are willing to display to their audience in accordance with Katz and Lazarsfeld’s (1955) two-step flow communication theory. The blogs do not make it clear whether the digital conversation, and thus eWOM, they are prompting is organic or amplified. It can be assumed that blog posts that solely focus on one brand are amplified. The reactions to their posts on the blog and on other social media platforms, such as in this study Facebook, show how the blogs generate further brand awareness through the products they are promoting. Whether through likes or actual comments, their audiences and thus potential brand customers, interact with the blogger and communicate about the brand. This clearly displays a position of power inhabited by fashion bloggers and their capability of displaying valuable brand advocacy to a targeted audience. 

What Is Left To Be Said – Next Steps

It can be concluded that the internet has changed the way consumers are being influenced on their customer decision journey towards the actual act of purchase. Digital interaction between brands and potential customers has gained importance, however, customers are increasingly choosing to put their trust in secondary sources that discuss products of interest through C2C-communication. Customers want to be understood, rather than being manipulated into buying. Trust plays a crucial role in any form of customer engagement. Within the fashion industry, fashion blogs seem to have succeeded in positively displaying fashion brands in their published content, while subsequently evoking positive reactions by their followers. Fashion blogs, serving as customer touch points, have been able to use the brand conversation and eWOM on their platforms to broaden a brand’s reach and project messages to a pre-selected and relevant target audience. 

Next steps for brand executives could be to further embrace the powerful tool of fashion blogs strategically to build their brands in even more fitted ways. It is worth to further investigate into Uzunoglu and Misci Kip’s research (2014) who already point out how brand executives need to be aware of a good blogger and brand match, a tone of voice that represents their brand essence, a relevant reach that will grow the brand, content that is qualitative and manifold, bloggers that are reliable and depending on the brand strategy popular or experienced in their field. Once brand executives further step into developing personal brand-blogger relationships, the effect of powerful customer touch points represented by fashion blogs could even further be strengthened. 

References

Alberta Ferretti. (2015). Alberta Ferretti Online Boutique. Available: http://www.albertaferretti.com/us. Last accessed 17th Feb 2015.

Armelini, G, Villanueva, J. (2011). Adding Social Media to the Marketing Mix. IESE Insight. 9 (1), 29-36. Available: http://eds.b.ebscohost.com/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=f482393c-566f-4f76-936f-06fb08ad8408%40sessionmgr113&vid=2&hid=104. Last accessed 17th Feb 2015. 

Calvin Klein. (2015). My Calvins. Available: http://explore.calvinklein.com/en_US/page/mycalvins. Last accessed 15th Feb 2015.

Calvin Klein. (2015). Official Site and Online Store. Available: http://se.calvinklein.com/store/en. Last accessed 14th Feb 2015.

Edelmann, D C. (2010). Branding in the Digital Age: You’re Spending Your Money in All the Wrong Places. Available: https://hbr.org/2010/12/branding-in-the-digital-age-youre-spending-your-money-in-all-the-wrong-places. Last accessed 15th Feb 2015.

Facebook. (2014). Gary Peppers Pictures. Available: https://www.facebook.com/garypeppergirl/photos/pb.137930776283.-2207520000.1424188245./10152709532261284/?type=3&theater. Last accessed 16th Feb 2015.

Facebook. (2015a). Gary Pepper. Available: https://www.facebook.com/garypeppergirl?fref=ts. Last accessed 17th Feb 2015.

Facebook. (2015b). Hanneli Mustaparta. Available: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Hanneli-Mustaparta/147267392042644?fref=ts. Last accessed 15th Feb 2015.

Facebook. (2015c). The Blonde Salad by Chiara Ferragni. Available: https://www.facebook.com/theblondesalad?fref=ts. Last accessed 15th Feb 2015.

Facebook. (2015d). The Blonde Salad by Chiara Ferragnis Pictures. Available: https://www.facebook.com/theblondesalad/photos/pb.109185092468092.-2207520000.1424188346./801592273227367/?type=3&theater. Last accessed 17th Feb 2015.

Flynn, L. R., Goldsmith, R. E., Eastman, J. K. (1996). Opinion leaders and opinion seekers: Two new measurement scales. Journal oft he Academy of Marketing Science. 24 (2), 137–147.  Available: http://eds.a.ebscohost.com/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=dfaeab18-0c01-4802-bdab-0f3de31287c8%40sessionmgr4001&vid=2&hid=4103. Last accessed 17th Feb 2015.

Gary Pepper. (2015). About. Available: http://garypeppergirl.com/about. Last accessed 16th Feb 2015.

Gary Pepper. (2014). Couleur. Available: http://garypeppergirl.com/2014/11/couleur. Last accessed 17th Feb 2015.

Gary Pepper. (2015). Gary Pepper. Available: http://garypeppergirl.com. Last accessed 16th Feb 2015.

Hanneli. (2013). Behind The Scenes - The Coveteur. Available: http://www.hanneli.com/behind-the-scenes-the-coveteur/. Last accessed 17th Feb 2015.

Hanneli. (2015). About. Available: http://www.hanneli.com/about. Last accessed 17th Feb 2015.

Hanneli. (2015). Hanneli. Available: http://www.hanneli.com. Last accessed 17th Feb 2015.

Hennig-Thurau, T., Walsh, G. (2003). Electronic Word-of-Mouth: Motives for and Consequences of Reading Customer Articulations on the Internet. International Journal of  Electronic Commerce. 8 (3), 51-74. Available: http://eds.a.ebscohost.com/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=4&sid=4b72e445-102f-43d1-8448-10315d4f227f%40sessionmgr4004&hid=4103. Last accessed 17th Feb 2015.

Instagram. (2015a). Chiaraferragni. Available: http://instagram.com/chiaraferragni. Last accessed 17th Feb 2015.

Instagram. (2015b). Garypeppergirl. Available: http://instagram.com/garypeppergirl. Last accessed 17th Feb 2015.

Instagram. (2015c). Hannelim. Available: http://instagram.com/hannelim. Last accessed 17th Feb 2015.

Jennifer Fisher Jewelry. (2015). Jennifer Fisher Jewelry. Available: http://jenniferfisherjewelry.com. Last accessed 17th Feb 2015.

Katz, E. (1957). The two-step flow of communication: An up-to-date report on an hypothesis. Public Opinion Quarterly. 21, 61-78. Available: http://eds.b.ebscohost.com/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=1&sid=5ea05174-0531-40c4-ad74-ad462fe31680%40sessionmgr114&hid=104. Last accessed 17th Feb 2015.

Katz, E., Lazarsfeld, P. F. (1955). Personal influence: The part played by people in the flow of mass communication. Glencoe, IL: Free Press. 

King, R. A., Racherla, P., Bush V. D. (2014). What We Know and Don’t Know About Online Word-of-Mouth: A Review and Synthesis of the Literature. Journal of Interactive Marketing. 28, 167–183. Available: http://www.sciencedirect.com.ludwig.lub.lu.se/science/article/pii/S1094996814000139. Last accessed 17th Feb 2015

Kulmala, M., Mesiranta, N., Tuominen, P. (2013). Organic and amplified eWOM in consumer fashion blogs. Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management. 17 (1), 20-37. Available: http://www.emeraldinsight.com.ludwig.lub.lu.se/doi/pdfplus/10.1108/13612021311305119. Last accessed 17th Feb 2015

The Blonde Salad. (2015a). About. Available: http://www.theblondesalad.com/about. Last accessed 15th Feb 2015.

The Blonde Salad. (2015b). In My Calvins. Available: http://www.theblondesalad.com/2015/02/in-my-calvins.html. Last accessed 15th Feb 2015.

The Blonde Salad. (2015c). The Blonde Salad. Available: http://www.theblondesalad.com. Last accessed 15th Feb 2015.

The Coveteur. (2015). The Coveteur. Available: http://www.thecoveteur.com. Last accessed 16th Feb 2015.

Twitter. (2015a). ChiaraFerragni. Available: https://twitter.com/chiaraferragni. Last accessed 16th Feb 2015.

Twitter. (2015b). HanneliM. Available: https://twitter.com/hannelim. Last accessed 16th Feb 2015.

Twitter. (2015c). Garypeppergirl. Available: https://twitter.com/garypeppergirl. Last accessed 16th Feb 2015.

Uzunoglu, E., Misci Kip, S. (2014). Brand communication through digital influencers: Leveraging blogger engagement. International Journal of Information Management. 34, 592-602. Available: http://www.sciencedirect.com.ludwig.lub.lu.se/science/article/pii/S0268401214000450. Last accessed 17th Feb 2015.

Valentino. (2015a). Valentino Online Boutique. Available: http://www.valentino.com/us/shoulder-bag_cod45229836ph.html. Last accessed 16th Feb 2015.

Valentino. (2015b). Valentino Official Website. Available: http://www.valentino.com/us. Last accessed 16th Feb 2015.

Valentino. (2015c). Valentino Women Pret a Porter Pre Season Collection. Available: http://www.valentino.com/us/women/fashionshow/pap-spring-pre-woman_section?lookid=71931. Last accessed 16th Feb 2015.

Vogue Paris. (2014). Un brunch avec Hanneli Mustaparta. Available: http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x1ijlcw_un-brunch-avec-hanneli-mustaparta_lifestyle. Last accessed 17th Feb 2015.

Vogue Paris. (2015). Vogue.fr. Available: http://www.vogue.fr. Last accessed 16th Feb 2015.