PROCUREMENT

A Refocus On Brand Marketing Is Needed

Dec 01, 2023

Social Commerce

A Refocus On Brand Marketing Is Needed

Brand marketing has always been a vital part of a business, but it may be more important now than ever before thanks to social media. Consumers are now exposed to an impossible number of brands daily, and though this is great for expanding their purchase options, it makes it increasingly difficult for brands trying to get a look in.

With brands having to fight their way through the hustle and bustle of social media, it’s no wonder their marketing efforts are primarily pointed towards performance marketing. After all, it’s natural to want to see the results of our efforts, particularly how they fare against those we’re competing with.

However, a focused increase in performance marketing runs the risk of neglecting other important areas such as brand marketing. If a brand’s identity is lost, then comes the failure to maintain old, or acquire new, consumers and, therefore, a struggle to drive conversions. 

No brand is more aware of this than ASOS, whose plummeting financial results for the end of 2022 have forced it to think twice about the way it approaches brand marketing going forward in a bid to win back the reputation it once upheld and the consumers it once served. 

But why is ASOS even having to go to these lengths?

The consequences of neglecting brand marketing

What was once a cool, pioneering presence on the fashion scene in the early-to-mid 2010s, is now a brand whose target audience is hard to pinpoint. 

In its prime, ASOS exuded an edgy charm through the models it recruited, clothes it sold and brand aesthetics it pushed, but now, scrolling through the site is likened to scrolling through one of the many ultra-fast fashion ecommerce sites made popular by social media. 

As a fashion retailer whose claim to fame was driven by the housing of sought after ASOS-own labels that clothed the likes of Rihanna and Michelle Obama, and a fashion magazine contributed to by the likes of Daisy Lowe, Zoe Kravitz and Lili Reinhart, it’s a little upsetting to see the abandonment of the brand marketing that gave it its power. 

Brand Marketing: Michelle Obama wearing ASOS

But what went so wrong?

Well, Chief Operating Officer for ASOS, Mat Dunn, determined that it was a “broad-based phenomenon” with no one reason. Included within this amalgamation of reasons is the stockpiling of unprofitable labels.

In 2021, ASOS announced its acquisition of Topshop, Topman and Miss Selfridge as a declaration that it had the design and marketing skills and strategies to revive the brand. However, Topshop proved it didn’t have the sparkle it once did back in the mid 2010s after causing a detrimental slow in growth for ASOS. By the end of financial year 2022, ASOS made a pre-tax loss of £31.9 million and saw shares plunge by 40%, leaving it reliant upon markdowns and promotions as a tool to attract more customers. Fast forward to October 2023, speculation arose over the selling of Topshop as ASOS’ bid to crawl back out of its self-inflicted downfall. However, with no official confirmation of this, attention turns to how a focus on brand marketing can be used to lift the brand from its slump.

Another last-minute survival tactic ASOS clung to was the announcement of the business’ pledge to sustainability. In 2021, ASOS published the Circular Design Guidebook with the Centre For Sustainable Fashion and, a year later, released a “circular design collection”. Since then, there have been no other efforts to prioritise sustainability or attempt to solidify its position as a thought leader in the field. 

One could argue that pulling the sustainability card is a low-blow from ASOS, particularly because it stocks fast fashion brands such as In The Style, Missguided and a slew of other fashion labels with sustainability ratings of ‘poor’ or lower. Moreover, running this newfound brand marketing approach is so far detached from what the business was once built on that it’s no wonder old customers aren’t making their return.

The Chartered Institute of Marketing’s ongoing investigation into ASOS’ potentially ‘misleading eco claims’ are also responsible for slowing the retailer’s progress. However, with 63% of consumers believing that brands only get involved in sustainability for commercial purposes and not ethical reasons, we highly doubt the CMA’s investigation is largely to blame. 

How can ASOS keep up with new ultra-fast fashion brands?

New Chief Executive, Jose Antonio Ramos Calamonte, has unveiled a turnaround plan for the fashion retail giant following a results presentation that shone a light on the fact that investing more than 80% of marketing investment on performance marketing leaves insufficient spend focused on driving longer-term brand awareness.

ASOS says it will review its “operating model, marketing investment, capital and resource allocation, and its deployment across geographies, customer acquisition channels, and digital and data capabilities” for the purpose of creating long-term sustainable growth for investors. This dedication to brand marketing and building is a step in the right direction for regaining consumer interest and demand, and to become indispensable in the mind of its customers. 

But does ASOS have the ability to succeed?

Evidence of innovation as part of the retailer’s new brand identity would suggest so. The implementation of features such as ‘Shop the Look’ and ‘Fit Assistant’ shows signs of it getting back to its customer-first routes and reassures its promises to invest in more long-term brand awareness. 

Brand marketing: buy the look

But will this be enough?

It’s clear ASOS is struggling to keep up with the new kids on the block, and with its lack of credentials to be a sustainable or ethical alternative for consumers looking to invest in their fashion, no amount of stock offloading can make up for failing to forge a new identity through brand marketing.

Our influencer marketing agency and social agency are located worldwide, with our agency network based in the USA, UK, UAE and China.

If you want to find industry insights, visit our influencer marketing and social media blogs.

@ Socially Powerful

Author

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Ella Proctor

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