Leading modest fashion companies are arming themselves with an arsenal of marketing ingenuity while keeping a close ear to the ground as content and influencer marketing hold court in a growing marketplace.
Modanisa, HijUp and Haute Hijab are among e-commerce modest fashion companies that understand their customers are not just buying products for the design and price, but also the value that the products represent. Keeping it close and personal is vital as modest fashion has a unique selling proposition as a faith-based commodity.
“Consumption is a badge of identity, they (modest fashion customers) want to buy clothing while upholding the principles of their faith,” Modanisa’s brand manager Duygu Demir told Salaam Gateway in an email. The Turkey-based company has 45,000 YouTube subscribers and more than 500,000 followers on Instagram. It also publishes glossy fashion catalogues, stocks 3,000 apparel pieces and delivers to 75 countries.
BUILDING AN ONLINE COMMUNITY AROUND THE BRAND
Muslim women consumers purchased $44 billion worth of modest fashion clothing last year, estimates the State of the Global Islamic Economy 2016/17 report.
In a digitized world where social media overpowers how people communicate, the three companies have very quickly embraced the need to transcend traditional marketing. Building a community around their brand is essential to build loyalty.
“TV campaigns and magazines will always be in our lives as mass mediums that increase brand awareness but content marketing is the driving force which allows a conversation rather than only communication,” Demir added.
For U.S.-based Haute Hijab, connecting with its customers directly via social media content particularly on its Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat channels are the basics in building a community.
The company’s CEO, Melanie Elturk shared with Salaam Gateway that Haute Hijab came into the market knowing that it needs to engage with its customers at the grassroots level if it wants to compete with the big players.
“I think that was key from the get-go. We knew that if we were to build an online brand and if we were to compete with H&M, Zara, Forever 21 and other places where people get their scarves - there needs to be something compelling,” Elturk said. Like Modanisa, Haute Hijab also started in 2010.
“They need to come to us for something other than a product. So creating a community is huge,” she said.
Elturk says she finds it interesting that although Haute Hijab’s Snapchat account has only 3,500 followers as compared to its Instagram’s burgeoning 130,000 count – getting a product to sell on Snapchat can be an instant affair because the latter channel is more intimate in its engagement.
“A quick example is that we have a print that I thought was so pretty but it didn’t sell out. So I put it on and I went on Snapchat and say ‘Hey, this print is not sold out for some reason, I don’t know why but it is so pretty!’ and it was sold out that day,” she said.
Elturk is using what marketers term influencer marketing – where consumers buy products that their favorite celebrity or personality wears or endorse, especially on social media. In the case of Elturk, she falls into the unique category of being the designer, the CEO and the influencer all at the same time. 90 percent of the company’s customers are in the U.S.
“Think of the people you admire. You admire them because you see something in them that either you see yourself or you see something you want to see in yourself,” she explained.
Elturk posts many pictures of herself on Instagram that are highly curated with the products Haute Hijab has on offer, often with the bustling background of New York City streets. The background and her style speak volumes to young, American Muslim female consumers who look for ways to find meaning and place in modern life and their faith-based values.
“A lot of people whom I meet say we would be best friends and we could have coffee because we are just alike. So we are all narcissistic and it is all about egos, we want to be around people who remind us of ourselves,” she quipped.
Another designer who is dipping her feet deep into the influencer marketing space is Indonesian designer Anniesa Hasibuan, who has 42,300 followers on Instagram. Many of her recent posts on Instagram are photographs of herself wearing her own line - beautifully shot in various locations around the world. It makes the case for her followers to buy her clothes not only for its own appeal but also for the appeal of wanting to look and be like her. Her namesake brand made waves recently when her D’Jakarta line took to the runway at New York Fashion Week with a full crew of models in hijab.
HijUp, a behemoth in modest fashion for the Southeast Asia market, also uses influencer marketing in its content mix. The company posts short YouTube clips featuring both the company’s CEO Diajeng Lestari and Indonesian celebrities. The production quality of the episodes is broadcast-standard and its YouTube channel has 157,000 subscribers.
Content on HijUp’s YouTube channel also goes beyond the typical how-to tutorials and fashion shows. Some of the videos feature popular singers performing unplugged versions of their music while wearing clothes that HijUp sells on its website. At the end of the clip, a credit roll is dedicated showing what the singer is wearing, all available from HijUp.com. Another video series on its YouTube channel are short clips, TV drama-style with a running theme of empowering Muslim women globally.
The Indonesian market is certainly very receptive online to modest fashion—in a 3-week social media listening study in July and August, the country came up on top for millennials (18-35 age group) engaged with the modest fashion sector topics online, with 68,500 interactions. This was a runaway gap from the next country ranked, Malaysia, which clocked 5,300 interactions with the same topic.
“The point is HijUp is not just about selling clothes. We have other intentions, of spreading the word about the faith and empowering Muslim women all around the world – that they can be the best that they can be and contribute (to the world) with their unique talents,” Lestari said.
“At this moment we focus on (digital) applications because we can quantify its growth via our mobile app (downloads). 70 percent of our website’s total visitors came from mobile,” said Lestari. She also revealed that the HijUp.com website gets 450,000 page visits per month with 90 per cent of the eyeballs coming from Indonesia.
It is this understanding of its target market that makes HijUp’s content marketing mix the right recipe. But keeping the content mix creative and churned consistently is not easy.
TARGETED WHATS AND WHYS
In an email to Salaam Gateway, CEO of U.S.-based Content Marketing Institute, Joe Pulizzi shared that the fashion industry is, and will continue to be, a strong player in the content marketing space.
“How do we build likability and trust on a consistent basis? By delivering them amazingly helpful and relevant basis on a regular basis. Simple strategy that is challenging to execute,” he said.
As fashion is a highly visible industry, knowing the ‘what’ in your content marketing plan is as imperative as knowing the ‘why’, he said.
“It is less about being everywhere and more about understanding why you are using a certain channel and committing to that channel consistently over time.”