Fashion Marketing in the time COVID-19
Table of Contents
- Current Situation
- How are fashion brands marketing to customers during COVID-19
- Examples of Marketing Measures taken by brands
The COVID-19 situation is evolving differently day by day. As the time when this article is written on 17 April 2020, USA daily cases are increasing in the ten of thousands, Germany is considering to lessen their lock-down measure, Malaysia and Indonesia are still under lock-down, Singapore is having a second wave of an outbreak and Japan has been declaring a state of emergencies across several prefectures.
How are fashion brands marketing to customers during COVID-19
This very unusual times and during our research on fashion brands, we are very touched by how they are making efforts to help out during the crisis. This includes brands that usually have very strict branding regulations.
After looking into more than 20 fashion brands, both online and offline, we observed how four trends when it comes to how brands response to the COVID-19 situation highly depends on factors such as:
- Where the brand is from
- Situation within a country
- Scale of the business
- Brand Image
1. Where the brand is from
For example, for luxury brands from Europe, such as Italy, Spain, and France, they have launched many more COVID-19 initiatives and given much more donations when compared to those in the brands from the US. Two factors might have contributed to these differences. One reason is that the COVID-19 has struck Europe first before hitting the USA and second Europe being the home to most fashion brands in the world (ZARA, H&M, Loius Vuitton).
2. The situation within a country
Due to the differences in how countries are responding to the COVID-19, brands have opted to carefully craft messages for each of those countries. However, instead of dealing at a worldwide level, some brands have chosen to announce on at local online level about the status of their stores, delivery, and approaches they have taken.e
3. Scale of the Business
Maybe it is not surprising that donations in the 500,000 to 1 million range are quite common among the luxury and big brands. It is also common for brands to turn their usual production line into manufacturing masks or to use their inhouse factory for the initiatives.
4. Brand Image
Despite being heavily involved in supporting the efforts, how brands present these supports are still partially affected by the nature of their brand image. For example, GUCCI has dedicated its’ social media in sharing about the Pandemic regardless of its’ usual brand image. Sports brands such as NIKE and Adidas have meanwhile started promoting indoor clothes and activities, adhering strictly to the nature of their business.
Marketing Measures taken by brands
Based on our research, brands take on five common marketing measures are taken during stressful times like this:
- Conducting a special campaign without obvious talking about the virus
- Dedicate their social media post on creating awareness of the virus and action required should be taken
- Banners and announcement on their website on their stand and situation such as delivery situation and measure they have taken to support the initiatives
- Promotion of comfort clothing & indoor activities
- Having special COVID-19 sales
We will divide this section based on where the brand was originally from to understand better the marketing initiatives taken by these brands.
Calvin Klein (PVH Foundation)
Calvin Klein has opted to keep their website clean from the news of COVID-19 with only a small banner up regarding the situations of their store, the approach they took to ensure the store is clean and delivery time.
Despite the clean appearance, Calvin Klein has taken a lot of initiative in helping out combating the COVID-19. This includes providing funding to the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund Unfoundation and Swiss Philanthropy Foundation that supports WHO and other partners with similar efforts getting initiated in the US and Canada and support health care in the frontline by providing equipment such as gowns, masks and face shield. At the same time, they also founded the COVID-19 Global LGBTIQ Emergency Fund.
Similar to Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren has chosen to keep the website clean and providing only a single banner showing about their initiatives on COVID-19. On their US website, they have a full page on the measures they have taken, however pages outside the country, it’s usually just a banner that leads to the information on changes in their store operation hour.
Ralph Lauren has started a campaign called Ralph Lauren at home which is a marketing campaign revolving around the joy of rediscovering and exploring what your home has to offer.
Despite showing such a small banner, Ralph Lauren is perhaps the brand that has donated the most money to the initiative, reaching 10 million worth of donating while at the same time producing more than 250,000 Masks and 250,000 isolation gown with their US manufacturers.
Gap also has taken the stand to make their website clean from the news of COVID-19 with a little banner announcement of their store hours, and Gap points expiration delivery.
Gap has started the campaign “Home Sweats Home” that emphasizes staying home while staying comfortable. The products offered are their usual sweater collections.
Like the formers brand, despite having little sign of the COVID-19 at their website, Gap has opted to donate 1 million to local and states organization, international non-profit organizations that help underserved communities. They also opted to lend parts of their facilities to emergency responders if needed and to supply millions of masks and gowns to healthcare workers.
It’s really hard to forget the COVID-19 situation when you enter forever 21’s website with two banners related to the Pandemic. One banner dedicated to the announcement of the mask has been sold out, and the other about stores are closed.
Forever 21 has committed to donating nonmedical masks to low-income families and has created a video on teaching customers how to DIY their own face mask.
Website & Marketing Campaign
Guess has taken an extraordinary approach when it comes to showing the COVID-19 situation. They have put up the big banner with a quote, “Hope. Never give up” from their Co-founder, Paul Marciano. The banner links to the page that shows the initiative that has been taken by Guess in tackling the crisis.
Guess has committed over 1.3 million USD towards combating the virus. They are also working with Good360 to distribute clothing to those in need. In addition, they are also working with Direct Relief, which provides personal protective equipment to the healthcare workers. Lastly, they are also utilizing their vast network of brand ambassadors to drive awareness of the Pandemic.
KOHL’S website has little or no information about the virus other than the switch to promoting comfort wears which is the trend by brands that offer comfort wears.
Their marketing strategy seems to be avoiding the topic COVID-19 while at the same time heavily promoting fitness and comfort clothing for staying at home. On their social media accounts, they have also posted updates on their store closure on their Instagram account.
Website & Marketing Campaign
Nastygal has approached the virus by putting up an announcement about safe deliveries, an extension of the returns period from 28 days to 60 days and how they keeping their employees safe from the virus.
Website & Marketing Campaign
Nike has put up a big banner on its website and started a campaign called “You can’t stop us”. The campaign talks very little about the pandemic but written in a way understood by many while at the same time adheres to their brand image of “Just do it”.
NIKE also started encouraging indoor activities and online sports games to their audiences using catch like such as “Play inside, play for the world”.
Victoria Secret, same as KOHL’s has shown put no notice regarding the virus on their website while at the same time, started promoting comfort wears.
Victoria Secret is perhaps the creatives among all the brands surveyed when it comes to getting their audience engaged on Instagram. They have created special Instagram post such as “Choose your Quanratine house” and “What’s your social distancing personality”.
Adidas has taken a different approach to the website, depending on which country they are in. In Malaysia, where self-isolation has been enforced, they have put up a better about “Get fit from home”, while their US site only has a small banner on store closure.
Like their fiercest competitor, they have started a marketing campaign #Hometeam, which encourages people to stay at home.
Adidas has taken initiative to provide medical staffs that work in a hospital with 130 pairs of new sneakers.
Armani’s website has shown little information about the virus except for a single page regarding the safety of their warehouse and deliveries.
Armani has announced they will donate 2 million Euros to Italian hospitals fr them to face the virus. They have also dedicated their Italian product plants to start producing single-use medical overalls.
Like many luxury brands in Europe, Burberry does not seem to put up any obvious announcement about the virus on their homepage.
Despite what seems to be a lack of effort on their website, Burberry has dedicated part of their Instagram page to create awareness of the virus. They also helped combat the virus by using their global supply chain network to deliver 100,000 masks to National Health Service in the UK, funding the Oxford University in Vaccine research. They are also donating to FareShare and The Felix Project, which involved in providing food supplies to those who are struggling.
Like Burberry, Gucci’s website shows no announcement regarding the virus except for store closure.
Like Burberry, despite the seeming lack of effort shown, Gucci has donated 1 million Euro to the Italian Civil Protection department and in partnership with Intesa Sanpaolo to source ICU beds. In addition, they also donated 1 million Euro to the United Nations Foundation’s Covid-19 Solidarity Response fund and dedicated their social media platform to share information about COVID-19, something that is not done by many other brands out there.
The Swedish fashion brand has taken a different approach based on where they are located. In the USA, they have put up a banner about their funding initiatives on their website while in their Indonesia website, they have put up a more subtle banner below their main banner about store closures and deliveries.
H&M has donated 500,000 USD to WHO and committed to helping the community affected by the virus by donating over 70,000 pieces of H&M products such as bedding, sheets, adult and children’s clothes to charity organizations such as Children’s Defense Fund, The Los Angeles LGBT Center, GLAM4GOOD, and the Nashville Rescue Mission.
In addition, they also launched a fundraising event in the US where every $60 spent, $10 will be donated to charities providing support and relief to those affected by the virus.
Louis Vuitton did not put up any announcements regarding the COVID-19, however they had an announcement regarding store closure.
Louis Vuitton has dedicated Maison’s ateliers across France and re-purposes them to create hundreds of thousands of non-surgical face masks and gowns hospitals within Paris.