Fashion's Next Frontier for Social Media

Industry is quickly learning that men and women engage and shop differently in the digital sphere.

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Mr. Porter's Web site

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In addition to the social platforms, this summer Mr Porter added to its site Instagram, a photo-sharing program, as well as YouTube, which has been popular for its “how-to” videos. To achieve maximum engagement with consumers, content is updated multiple times a day during the week — and now the weekend, after the site found that fans are interested in new posts and tweets on Saturdays and Sundays, too.

Mario Muttenthaler, Mr Porter’s head of sales and marketing, said the most popular features are new arrivals, either new products, designers or trends, as well as a weekly style clinic where personal shoppers talk to shoppers in real time on Twitter and Facebook. This week, content on the site includes an editorial with British actor Bill Nighy — whose obsession with navy blue suits served as the focal point of the shoot — and a look at the style of Oscar winner Gary Cooper, a “sartorial role model” for the e-tailer. The “Five Ways to Wear” feature showcases the blazer (Brioni, Bottega Veneta and Raf Simons among them) modeled by Damien Whitmore of Britain’s Victoria and Albert Museum, while new designer additions include Billy Reid and Anderson’s.

“With women, they know a little more what they’re looking for, and they want to make sure it’s the right fit,” Muttenthaler said. “Men really like to be inspired or told what to wear and how to wear it. A lot of guys like to learn about other ways to wear what they have.”

In August, the site launched its first-ever fall-winter wish list chosen by a female staffer — Claudia Plant, editor of Net-a-porter Magazine, and earlier this month, Mr Porter launched an edition that will be targeted exclusively to women seeking to buy for the men in their lives. This week, both sites engaged in a cross-promotion of sorts: Plant curated a list of 10 women’s items that was sent via e-mail to Mr Porter consumers, while Mr Porter editor in chief, Jeremy Langmead, selected 10 gifts for Net-a-porter shoppers that “the man in your life will love.”

“In the past, we have only had men providing wish lists on our social media channels [for Mr Porter], but with a sizeable portion of our Facebook fans, and the majority of our Twitter fans [53 percent], being women, we felt it was time to appeal to this demographic, too. Not only that, but men appreciate a woman’s point of view when it comes to style,” Muttenthaler said.

Gilt Groupe’s Gilt Man introduced GiltMANual in September 2010, while its full-price luxury counterpart, Park & Bond, also offers a variety of editorial content. According to the company, the former provides consumers with fashion news, style tips and a rolling guide to getting the most out of Gilt Man, while the latter offers authoritative advice and how-tos, profiles of stylish men of note and editorial features to inspire men to look their best.

This week, an oversize swatch of navy and white houndstooth-printed fabric with the headline “Know Your Terms: Houndstooth” is the anchor story on GiltMANual, linking to a full-length feature on the history of the pattern. There’s also “Gilt Man Essentials: 100 Things Every Guy Should Own,” which contains items such as “A Serious Pair of Wingtips,” “A Traditional Trench,” “The Pink Shirt” and “Chinos. That Actually Fit.” Additionally, there’s a “Cool Stuff to Buy” rubric that contains suggestions from that day’s sales on Gilt Man and “Link Love,” an Internet roundup of “the best in men’s style” — both of which are updated daily.

According to Chris Ventry, general manager of Gilt Man, they've seen success with multibrand sales that include head-to-toe looks and “how to wear it” hooks —  and the exact opposite holds true for women, where the single brand sale experience reigns at Gilt Groupe. He said the e-commerce platform has attempted to duplicate the “best of an in-store shopping experience” by devising sales around specific occasions or needs, such as a “summer wedding,” “date night” or “first interview.”

For Ben Minkoff’s ceo Uri Minkoff, even when selling a men’s product, he’s still targeting women.

Men and women conduct online retail transactions quite differently, and much of that connects to how they shop in real life, he explained. The majority of male customers are focused on “goal driven” shopping — i.e., buying a bag for work or black pants for a formal event — while women make purchases based on emotional responses or as gifts.

“Women tend to take a more casual approach to buying, and drive many of our Ben Minkoff purchases. Because of this, we target both men and women for this collection. For men, focus is on the utility of the bag, providing a reason for purchase that’s sparked by how the purchase solves a problem or necessity,” Minkoff said.

There’s also a difference in the timing of purchases, Minkoff has found.

Women tend to be “lunchtime” shoppers and “full-time” talkers, commenting on the brand’s social profiles throughout the course of the day, while men tend to shop later in the day or on Mondays — when purchases they’re considering from the weekend are top of mind.

“Men are tactical about their purchases, while women tend to be philosophical. Women want to spend more time on a site, shopping and discovering premium original content about the brand. Men want to get to their purchases faster, so we’re planning to introduce online shops for men on our Facebook and mobile stores to get them to that Ben Minkoff purchase faster,” Minkoff said.


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