ASOS : A Case Study in Brand Advocacy
Customer loyalty. Despite the lip service given to necessary reward and maintenance programs, few retailers see it as anything more than a marketing practice designed to increase revenue. So how did a global brand come to achieve fierce brand advocacy without promotional saturation?
ASOS: A Brief History
As one of the UK’s top global fashion and beauty retailers, ASOS.com was launched in 2000 by Nick Robertson and Quentin Griffiths as an online source where customers could purchase fashion and accessories as sported by leading celebrities (leading to the acronym of the company’s original name, “As Seen On Screen.”) By 2013, ASOS launched had launched seven separate international stores, including Italy, the US, France, China and Australia and currently ships to over 230 different countries from fulfillment centers across Europe, Asia and the US. By the end of 2015, the London-based retailer distributed almost 900 separate brands and reported revenues in excess of £2 billion.
Organic Influence and Social Media Engagement
But it’s not enough to simply depend on celebrity brand exposure in the shifting digital landscape. When it comes to social media engagement, the word of your next-door neighbor counts just as much as an official brand spokesperson, if not more so. And ASOS, acutely aware of their customer demographic—millennial, and subsequently both tech and culture savvy—were fully aware of the next step in brand evolution. To this end, they launched an aggressive social media campaign; in addition to the mandatory Twitter, Facebook and Instagram presence, the distributor launched a YouTube channel in 2009 providing weekly styling and beauty advice from both experts and celebrities which was segmentalized into channels specific to both product lines and geographic locales. In addition, the brand launched an official membership program, #AccessAllASOS, which offered exclusive membership benefits, discounts, and insider access to participants by direct social outreach. These benefits, which were customized based on intensive data collection and review, also served a mutually inclusive benefit for providers by transforming them from simple social media users into brand ambassadors.
The result? In the first three months after the roll-out of the #AccessAllASOS program, over 75,000 separate positive mentions were tallied, and the ASOS YouTube channel reports views of 21 million separate users, as well as forging official partnerships with the likes of Azalea Banks and Ellie Goulding—two of the most omnipresent forces in millennial culture today.
Marketing by Proxy
In April 2015, ASOS reported that it reduced marketing costs by 16 percent, allegedly claiming a shift to lowering prices as a more significant priority as being the prime cause. While this may have no doubt played a role, it is more realistic to think that marketing shifts towards social outreach and brand ambassadorship played a more critical factor.
The company’s most recent social engagement campaign was launched in September 2015. The #asseenonme campaign, which promises discounts if a user posts a picture of themselves wearing an ASOS outfit on Instagram, has reportedly resulted in some 60 percent of its traffic and 44 percent of its orders occurring from mobile devices alone. It is precisely this progressive “marketing-without-marketing” approach that proves ASOS has its fingers firmly on the millennial pulse, which seems at times built with an innate ability to see the transparency of their competitors’ efforts, and which could prove to change the world of marketing altogether.
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