Good evening everyone!
I assume that my post today will be read more intently by the female population of Prof Shim’s two SMS classes, given that it centers on an industry most of us girls should be rather intrigued with – the wedding gown retail industry. Granted, most of us do not have any need for a gown as of yet, but I’m sure you’ll find my research interesting and informative in the future when you eventually embark on the search for your dream dress 🙂 I hope you’re excited to read on, as lots of gorgeous dresses are set to follow.
Source: Google Images
In my project, I chose to focus on the Social Media platform Instagram and its use as a marketing and communications tool for the wedding gown retail industry. For comparative bench-marking purposes, I bought in 3 retailers which have similar business activities in the industry value chain (namely bespoke designing, manufacturing and retailing) and geographical scope (their client bases mostly originate from Singapore).
They are: Jessicacindy, Time Taken to Make a Dress and Le Grand Wedding (JC, TTMD and LGW for short respectively).
Source: Google Images
To provide some background, all three pride themselves on bespoke gown designs and their strengths differ to some extent. LGW focuses on bringing in the latest international style trends, JC focuses on soft, ethereal designs and customer service and TTMD leverages on its technical skills to provide gowns catered specifically for each bride, as opposed to following fads.
The brand of focus would be LGW and my strategies are largely aimed at improving its performance on Instagram given its ailing number of likes and followers, and consequently, the low “talk rate” for each of its postings.
My research question is thus: What kind of content on Instagram can garner the greatest brand engagement for the wedding gown retailer industry in Singapore, and specifically for “Le Grand Wedding”? Before we delve into the strategies, let’s take a closer look at the special characteristics of Instagram and how this social media platform lends itself to my focal industry.
Did you know? #1: 30% of Instagram users buy items after viewing them on their Instagram feeds (Hobbs, 2015)
- The visual appeal of content on Instagram works best for industries with heavy focus on their products’ appearance
- Brand identity results from careful curation of posts and followers follow a brand out of “brand love”, which makes for a smoother transition to purchase intention
Did you know? #2: Instagram has delivered 58 and 120 times higher brand engagement relative to Facebook and Twitter respectively (Marshall J., 2014)
- A major differentiator for Instagram is that brands’ presence is welcomed (Most on Facebook would see this as brand intrusion!)
- Instagram’s user base skews towards young females, who are the most receptive to brand involvement and communication
Did you know? #3: The direct messaging feature on Instagram could aid in the cultivation of a brand community
- Brides worldwide use the opinions of virtual community members for consumption sharing and emotional support (Nelson & Otnes, 2005)
- DM function allows brides-to-be to ask previous brides about their experiences. If gown retailers can identify previous clients as brand ambassadors, the possibilities of their reach could be immense
VALUE OF RESEARCH
I aim to uncover the different facets of successful Instagram content to garner stronger customer engagement rates for LGW. The results can also be extrapolated for the greater Singapore wedding industry on the whole. Little research so far means that unguided retailers often post overly-generic content which get lost in the mass of feeds!
METHODOLOGY AND FINDINGS
Analysis of the commonalities and differences of the 3 brands’ Instagram image content, type, frequency, caption type and style etc were examined over 3 weeks of tracking to distill the following findings: relative to JC and TTMD, LGW on Instagram suffers from:
- Irregular posting frequency
- Irrelevant content from sister brand (Z-wedding) and other wedding-related vendors (e.g.: wedding table settings and wedding heels)
- Lack of personal touch – no brides featured and their bespoke service is rarely mentioned
- Lack of audience-initiated conversations
- Large-scale events were held with celebrities in attendance but full potential on social media is not realized
Hence, I came up with a couple of suggestions to highlight LGW’s strengths and am of the opinion that they should go back to their roots of embodying Bespoke Luxury Couture.
To emphasize that their service is top-notch and customized:
- Create short time-lapse insta-videos showcasing the personal touches they add on each gown for individual brides, highlighting these details in the captions. These can be done via Hyperlapse, which was created by Instagram, Inc.
- Ask for customer feedback on Instagram. Feedback could pertain to theme suggestions for their biannual runway events with the best suggestion rewarded with free entry into their exclusive runway shows
To increase organic and inorganic reach:
- Formulate a content calendar to regulate posting frequency and maintain an active presence
- Have an easily recognizable trademark photo-taking backdrop in-house, where brides can take a photo after fittings. Brides are encouraged to post their pictures with the hashtag #legrandjourney
Source: Google Images
- Collaborate with other wedding vendors for special shoots (think: wedding jewelry, cakes, venues) and get featured on their Instagram accounts. For instance:
To launch a forum to foster a brand community:
- Leverage on their existing network of A-listers who attend their events – get a celebrity who is about to get married to be their brand ambassador and announce LGW’s new online forum and also any subsequent events
As you might be able to tell, I had lots of fun thinking up all these strategies because I got the chance to put myself in the shoes of a bride on the lookout for her dress and thinking “What might appeal to me if I were shopping around for a bespoke gown?…”. So, that’s all I have for today and for everyone who’s read thus far, I hope this gave some insight into the world of wedding gowns and thank you for the time!
– Julia, G2