Think of Gwynnie Bee as Netflix for clothes. Subscribers peruse a large digital closet of women’s fashion options from separates to occasion wear, all available in sizes ranging from 10 to 32. Depending on the monthly subscription plan, the items chosen are then shipped directly to users’ homes on a rental basis. (Subscription rates range from $49 to rent one outfit at a time to $95 a month for three.)
Since the service launched in 2012, Gwynnie Bee has sent out 3 million boxes and counting—quite a feat for a startup with a new business model for fashion. Disruption, indeed.
A key component to the company’s rapid growth has been the use of influencer videos, a marketing strategy led by vice president of marketing Jennifer Ogden-Reese. A long-time consumer marketing strategist at Time Inc.—she was responsible for overseeing People magazine as well as the style and entertainment group—Ogden-Reese says that the best voice for communicating the values (and value) of your business comes from your customers themselves.
Gwynnie Bee has gained a lot of traction in a short time. How have you been successful?
Because we're a relatively young company, we still believe in the fundamentals. In particular, we're looking to drive awareness and education around our brand because we're offering a new concept—access to an unlimited wardrobe through clothing rentals.
What’s the key to creating that awareness and gaining credibility?
We have been doing a lot of video and we work with different influencers in that space. Many of those influencers started out as customers. They share self-made videos of themselves wearing our fashions on YouTube and other social outlets, and it really builds authentic credibility because these women literally are our customers.
Why have influencer videos worked so well?
Our core customer is a fashion-interested woman, someone who loves to shop and loves to feel great and look even better. Video is a great medium to tell our story because these women want to hear from other women about their real experiences with clothing. We started small when it came to promoting these videos. We analyzed the results—which were really strong—and then just ramped up.
How did you choose the best channels for your videos?
By analyzing our data. From a platform perspective, about 70% of visits among members and prospects happen on a mobile device. Plus, they are seeking information via Youtube. They're also highly engaged on social. So our video distribution strategy has aligned accordingly.
We have a lot of audience engagement on social. Beyond video distribution, we're building our social strategy with an editorial focus—amplifying the voices of our members when they blog or share photos of themselves wearing our clothes. We have even created #sharemegb to reinforce the community building that comes naturally for a lot of these women.
Gwynnie Bee has been particularly successful at developing loyalty. How have you been able to achieve that as a young company?
I think it’s about tapping into a passion. Our customers are women who have been relatively underserved in the fashion community. Our brand has been able to unlock their passion, and now they're really eager and willing to showcase their sense of style and confidence. These women want to interact with one another. They want to support one another. When these women talk about fashion, they are talking about a passion—and by giving them a means and a forum, they also happen to be talking about Gwynnie Bee and our brand.
On a larger scale, how do you see digital marketing itself evolving in the future?
I don’t see the fundamentals changing. I think you will still need to drive awareness, build consideration, and get people to try your product and become advocates for your brand. I think the complexity of the ecosystem is going to continue to grow, and the amount of data we're going to be able to capture and analyze will only increase. So it’s going to be fundamental for marketers to really understand their value proposition and how to reach their target audience. Success is also going to be about making a combination of data-driven decisions while also taking risks and continuing to experiment.
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This article was created and commissioned by SteelHouse, and the views expressed are their own.