I had an interesting conversation with my team recently about which brands we thought would be great candidates to harness the power of crowdsourcing. You can imagine the emerging list was long, aspirational, and varied! We see crowdsourcing techniques and community engagement gaining more acceptance every day as a useful approach to building predictive insight capacity and brand loyalty, and we asked ourselves, "What brands do we think would be a great fit for crowdsourcing?"
One group of the many creative and powerful brands we discussed are the so-called "fast-fashion" global companies like H&M, Zara and Uniqlo.
While there has been much written in business journals about how companies like H&M have mastered supply chain management and related distribution/communication technologies, at their heart they embrace the development of iterative, customer-driven, delightful fashion.
Through a combination of traditional research and global street trend detection, they produce many mini-collections throughout the year (in addition to their main collections) that rapidly respond to changing fashion taste and style. We think these kinds of fast-fashion companies' current insight processes could readily incorporate predictive online crowdsourcing intelligence too.
The business model for H&M entails innovating around design and distribution; listening closely to their customers; collaborating with fashion tastemakers like Stella McCartney and Marni to create new lines accessible to their brand fans; choosing creatives like Sophia Coppola to direct recent advertising; working hard at growing sustainability in their business model ... all these initiatives are paying off.
With some 2,500 H&M stores in over 40 countries, they're growing at 10 to 15 percent each year and have more than 11 million Facebook fans, with Twitter fans topping 1.16 million. Now, that is a great crowd to tap.
I believe the future of accessible retail fashion is in companies like H&M, Zara, and Uniqlo – collaborating with high-end design houses and staying at the forefront of emerging trends and brand sentiment. Retailers stuck in the middle of this spectrum, who play it safe with their designs and slowly follow trends, will need to adapt or they will become obsolete. Crowdsourcing can only help them get closer to their most influential customers.
How do you think brands could benefit from crowdsourcing? Let us know in the comments.