In the UK, the Christmas period generally runs from October to January for retailers, and it’s highly unlikely that it’s going to significantly shift anytime soon. With this in mind, many brands are now looking to challenge the way the fashion industry traditionally works throughout the rest of the year. The elements and weather associated with different seasons can have a devastating effect on the high street which can freeze sales and profits for many brands.
Take Burberry for example, the high fashion retailer made a game-changing move within the industry swapping its four-show calendar with two runway shows and no longer producing clothes for specific seasons, with clothing made available for sale immediately after each show. The novel format was called ‘seasonless, immediate, and personal’, and other brands are starting to follow suit, including Topshop and Hunter.
This approach to product availability also reflects the turbulence of the weather. Many of us now chase winter sun around the globe and as the pound struggles, there are many places with much warmer climates we can get to without breaking the bank. The ABTA recently reported that 5 million Britons sought to travel overseas last winter to escape the seasonal gloom. As such, seasonal assumptions just aren’t justified when it comes to digital marketing planning anymore.
The instability of seasonal campaigns
According to a recent report by Retail Week and Salesforce, 86% of fashion retailers noted that changing weather patterns have impacted their business, and this really relates to gradual climate change, warmer winters and wetter summers. We can no longer rely on European-led seasons to shape campaigns throughout the year and retailers have to face up to the globalised environment they now operate in.
Consumers now approach shopping in a whole new way and with constantly evolving mobile, e-commerce and social media trends, many digital marketers are totally unprepared for it. Shoppers are always-on and frequently buy items as soon as they see them, meaning in-store and online have had to adapt relatively quickly to minimise reliance on season-specific products. Therefore brands need to be focusing on mobile technology to ensure they are becoming more agile and driving customer experience strategies.
However, weather conditions aren’t the only challenges digital marketers are facing when it comes to seasonless campaigns. Brands need to be relevant to rank and detectable for key terms that people search for, no matter what the weather or season. Therefore, digital marketers need to have a consumer-first focus and ensure search data supports their actions. Essential items shouldn’t be pegged into seasonal buckets. Instead, digital marketers ought to be working to greater availability all year round. This would be conceivable by making sure they’re pushing those products during peak seasons, while still maintaining visibility through digital channels at all times.
As we dart closer to 2018, marketers should be implementing a new approach towards campaigns and there are some simple places they could start:
By shifting towards a retail environment where search patterns are constantly changing, digital marketers need to assess audiences and related purchase tendencies instead of placing small bids on thousands of search terms through a data management platform (DMP) or continuously pushing small-scale digital PR campaigns to incorporate their entire range. Moving to this approach will allow digital marketers to recognise who their fundamental yearly audience is, what they’re searching for and when, and allow better targeting based on behavioural data that is personalised to their habits. Powering campaigns with this level of granular data maximises efficiencies and stretches budgets much further.
Another exciting digital tactic that marketers should be considering if they want to produce effective seasonless marketing campaigns is programmatic. It is the key to creating responsive, personalised campaigns and digital marketers should be looking at incorporating it wherever they can. By introducing Digital Out-of-Home, mobile advertising, programmatic TV and programmatic audio, digital marketers have the opportunity to advertise key products in-line with what the weather forecast predicts.
A way for retailers and digital marketers to get really creative with a seasonless strategy is by adopting paid search and Google Shopping. By generating product-specific site pages, marketers could promote the key products via paid channels depending on the weather - Macs in rainy August, or sun cream if there is a heatwave in October.
One thing that digital marketers need to be mindful of, however, is that moving towards seasonless campaigns is not a decision that should be taken lightly. When considering SEO and user experience, full-site optimisations could take months or even up to a year to fully implement. To support an organic strategy, creative and reactive digital PR and content strategies can also be utilised to encourage engagement throughout the year. This approach will allow for a seamless customer journey that is in-line with the way consumers are innovating, based on weather and a see-now-buy-now attitude towards shopping.