The basics company Everlane, continues to be a gift that keeps giving. Apart from a new pair of jeans, made possible by Everlane Denim launched earlier this month, they provided a great case study on launching fashion in the digital age.
Everlane stayed true to their values as an environmentally responsible and transparent clothing company (going to great lengths to create the cleanest denim possible) and used customer research to identify and create a product that clearly solves a customer need.
These same customer insights went further and helped them use all of their digital touchpoints in an effective way. Here’s how —
Connect with customers by telling the why behind the product
The launch of #DamnGoodDemin had Everlane fans excited, but also curious to know: why?
To announce the new line, Michael Preysman, Founder & CEO of Everlane wrote a letter explaining the journey it took to make jeans that aligned with their values. The letter was shared via email and social and elicited a great response.
Why did it work?
- Providing context invites the end user closer to the product — it is also a great way to highlight unique product features.
- Sparking interest with a story vs. a product shot alone — in a crowded marketplace customers see pair after pair of jeans. A story creates more meaning and recall than a product alone.
- It brings your customer closer and opens a dialogue between you and them. Michael did a number of interviews during the launch, but talking directly to Everlane’s customers made them feel more involved and excited.
When it comes to casting, reach isn’t everything
Some familiar faces from my Instagram feed popped up in the campaign using the hashtag #DamnGoodDenim showing how they wore the denim in their day-to-day lives. The “cast” wasn’t made up of traditional models, or even traditional influencers, instead Everlane engaged members of the creative class that have followings of ~20K on Instagram, where they share content that inspires their fans.
Everlane collaborated with their cast in multiple ways. One modeled the denim on the product, some created content for Everlane’s Instagram story, and one even hand painted limited edition boxes for loyal customers. This sort of casting is useful, especially for a platform like Instagram where inspiration, aesthetic and reach is the secret sauce. Leading with personalities whose lives we see and aspire to everyday makes the endorsement a bit more authentic than Jennifer Aniston drinking a Smartwater in a field (which most small product companies can’t afford anyway).
Why did it work?
- Cross promotion — Who doesn’t love the attention of an extra 20,000 potential customers? Especially when those people look to the cast for entertainment and inspiration.
- Use influencers that have credibility in areas where you want to build your own — Traditional influencers are great in certain situations (when you need scale), but when your product has a niche target, you want to be careful going mass too quickly. Rather, start by engaging people who really align to your values and can demo your product in authentic and meaningful ways, because you can always increase your scale through paid platforms.
- Build a lifestyle around the product — Many people with a large social media following share their lives on a daily basis. Followers are attracted to their lifestyle, taking in what they wear, where they hang out/eat and how they decorate their homes. Partnering with them allows this unique POV to reflect on your own brand.
Everlane Denim + by Chloe. burger + Wildflower Arrangement = #livingmybestlife
Use your customer insights across their entire journey
Once launched, I was excited to get my hands on a pair myself. They looked great and were in my price range, however, I’m hesitant to buy jeans online. Jeans are an inherently complicated purchase to make — you have to consider lengths and sizes that may be assigned arbitrarily. Add in an extra barrier, lack of in-store access to product, and sizing doubts can creep up quickly (by the way, Everlane did open a few physical pop-up shops letting customers come test them out)
I was surprised to discover the product page allowed me to see how the jeans fit on different sizes. In two clicks I had access to images of the jeans on models of different heights and sizes. This feature was incredibly useful in selling me on the jeans.
Why did it work?
- Diverse casting — Not everyone is a size 0 or at least 5’9”. It was refreshing to see Everlane realize this, and create an experience that was inclusive of customers of all sizes.
- Use your customers as models — Aggregate user-generated content on your product pages to show how your happy customers experienced the product. Similar e-commerce sites such as Urban Outfitters and Rent The Runway have employed this successfully.
- Bonus follow-up — How do you get user-generated content? Incentivize your customer to share, give them an easy entry-point, and lead by example. Everlane started by using #DamnGoodDenim, and despite just launching this month, the hashtag is already gaining traction among satisfied purchasers.
The launch was successful, with most styles on back-order, meaning you’ll have to wait to get some yourself. In the meantime, many of these learnings can be directly applied to your next product launch.
How do you get started?
- What’s the most compelling story that both reinforces your values and excites your customer?
- What’s your equivalent of radical transparency? What’s your purpose and how can you further develop it?
- Who do you want to use your product that will demonstrate the usefulness and utility of your product?
- How can your website act as an extension of your brand and your underlying customer insights?
By Aly Blake