I was lucky enough to moderate the discussion at SXSW titled, “Fashion and the New Tastegraph” at South by Southwest this year, which turned out to be a lively discussion with Hilary Peterson from Lyst, Cannon Hodge from Bergdorfs, Dave Surgan from Morpheus Media/Createthe Group and Rachel Tipograph from Gap.
The panel addressed a topic that we are just on the brink of both technically and culturally. The idea that technology can be used to measure behavior in order to deliver a user with more personalized information (be that products, articles, music, etc.) is one that is just beginning to gain traction in the consumer-facing web.
As social media has evolved, and with it the power of personal relationships, (whether that be between individuals, brands and individuals, or individuals on behalf of brands with their customers), so too has the importance of receiving information from a curated source.
The wealth of content that exists can be overwhelming (as an understatement), however, through curation brands and individuals can cut through the clutter and tell a story by curating the elements of that narrative in a precise manner, be that visual or editorial (or a combination thereof).
While we all agreed on the panel that “curation” is a vastly overused term, the benefit that it provides is clearly significant.
Curation platforms have cropped up in the fashion industry, from Pinterest to Svpply, Lyst, and The Fancy, to name a few. On our panel, we talked in detail about what this means to brands, businesses and individuals. Some of the most tweeted points are below:
On the point of tying curation and the tastegraph to in-store:
-Gap reports that through measuring what people like and respond to online, their buying decisions are altered accordingly. Further, they have plans to integrate their Styld.by site into a mobile format, allowing in-store shoppers to scan a product and see how it was worn by other stylish folks featured on the Styld.by platform.
-Bergdorf Goodman smartly equips their in-store sales staff with iPhones, so they are tapped into what’s happening with the brand online. This means that when a customer reads a blog article that features a specific product, the sales associate can pull it up on the spot to help locate it.
On the point of different platforms for different purposes:
-Bergdorfs is currently on 12-13 different platforms worldwide. Their approach is one that is not overly concerned with being fragmented, instead it’s about using each platform differently and having a presence where your customer is. Cannon mentions a good point reminding brand marketers they can always close a channel without much negative backlash.
On the point of strategic approach:
-In a breath of fresh air, Gap’s digital department is run like a start-up. We think it’s this approach that will help to make any large corporation successful when it comes to social.
On the point of numbers:
-Morpheus Media has seen social curation platforms drive a 5300% increase in traffic to brand sites (!). The hypothesis is that traffic coming from more product focused platforms (like Lyst) will have higher conversion rates than the more inspirational visual platforms like Pinterest, even though Pinterest will drive more traffic volume. Reason being that sites like Lyst are more mission focused and the intention to shop is greater.
-Through their partnership with Lyst, Neiman Marcus experienced a 1800% increase in sales from Lyst (whoa!).
-While the panel wanted to be sure the conversation was not Pinterest focused (the joke was made that mentioning Pinterest was like having SX Tourrettes, since it has been a topic covered extensively at the festival), we also wanted to include Pinterest in the discussion since it’s clearly an important part of our current digital culture (and the topic of curation).
-Bergdorfs sees Pinterest as a platform for exploration and to convey trend messaging, while a platform like Lyst is more mission oriented.
Thanks to all who attended, (we had standing room only!) and who followed along via Twitter. We actually became a trending topic on Style.com!
If you missed it, use #tastegraph to catch up on the twitter dialogue.
Photo credits: Louise Murray