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Fashion Marketing: When being human helps

A look at the retail brands who employ humility and the human touch when things go wrong. Sometimes, honesty really is the best policy!
Fashion Marketing: When being human helps | EDITED
  • JC Penney apology
  • Warby Parker 2012 annual report
  • Bonobos Newsletter 22nd Dec 2012

Troubled US retailer, JCPenney, played a smart move this week, with the release of their ‘It’s no secret’ video, in which they admit they’ve got things a bit wrong lately.  “Recently JC Penney changed. Some changes you liked and some you didn’t.” they admit in the 30 sec YouTube video, “We learnt a very simple thing; to listen to you“. Some marketing teams would rather eat their business school textbooks than make such a public acceptance of blame, but with over 500,000 views in under 3 days, and a 187% increase in their online following, JC Penney have shown digital savviness. But most crucially, they’ve shown they are human.

With social media allowing brands and retailers to be more transparent than ever before, consumers want to feel like they know what goes on behind the scenes. Consumers want to see faces and hear voices, and it doesn’t matter if things go wrong, they want to feel a part of the process. JCPenney’s Facebook page, which has seen an increase of nearly 2.5 million fans this week, is encouraging that conversation with ‘Let us know what you think’ statuses. Impressively, JCPenney’s customer services team have replied individually to every interaction. They might raise the sinking ship yet.

It’s an approach that Lululemon might have considered back in March when 17% of their jogging bottoms were pulled from stock on account of being too transparent. Their email newsletters stuck to their standard message, with no reference. Chief Product Officer, Sheree Waterson, who’d been at the company since 2008, lost her job. Was this really what the Lululemon customer was after? Would a friendly toned apology and a discount code not have sufficed?

And it’s not just in times of crisis that a little humility can go a long way. Specs retailer, Warby Parker’s annual reports are packed full of quirky office stats and company insight, such as how many bug fixes took place in one month and the types of bagels eaten by staff – making consumers feel part of the Warby Parker family. And we all know home is not only where the heart is, it’s where the spending happens!

So retailers, next time something goes amiss, consider shedding some light on the situation and see if it doesn’t, in fact, do some good.