Word of mouth marketing is everything as consumers grow increasingly skeptical of traditional advertising and Zara, Nike and H&M apparently do it best. According to a recent study compiled by Tribe Dynamics, the San Francisco-based marketing technology firm, the three retail giants have topped its most valuable non-luxury fashion brands list, which comes as part of the group’s inaugural issue of Fashion La Mode.
Tribe put an array of brands, including the industry’s biggest fast fashion giants and affordable luxury brands, to the test. It measured their worth by way of its go-to metric of “earned media value,” which essentially just puts a dollar amount on the value of a brand’s social media word-of-mouth marketing initiatives, using engagement levels, hash tags, and fan accounts
Following behind Zara, Nike, and H&M are Topshop (number 4), Forever 21 (number 5), J. Crew (number 6), Calvin Klein (7), Kate Spade (8), Free People (9), and Michael Kors (10). Per WWD: “Zara’s EMV totaled $110.8 million, which reflects a 533 percent growth rate over the prior year’s values. Nike was second with $102.3 million — a 132 percent gain year-over-year, while H&M came in third with $87.9 million, a 359 percent gain. Fourth was Topshop with $72.1 million, which was followed by Forever 21 with $64.3 million.”
Tribe’s report comes a week after Cincinnati, Ohio-based FRCH Design Worldwide, the strategy, design and architecture firm for the retail, restaurant and hospitality sectors, released its annual Brand Actualization survey. Instead of measuring word of mouth marketing value, FRCH’s study centers on “brand actualization,” its system for measuring how well brands and retailers interact with consumers, or as Tom Custer, vice president of marketing and client development for FRCH, calls it, “a strategic framework we created measuring the point when functional and emotional needs are met and when consumers and brands are united in shared ownership and a mutually beneficial relationship.” The recent survey found that Disney, Oakley, Sephora, Zara and Anthropologie are most successful at connecting with consumers and keeping them engaged. Fossil, Michael Kors, Coach and Bath & Body Works are not far down on the list.
Zara, with a total score of 71.16, scored high on advocacy, for fast fashion, low prices and its “cool factor,” but has room for improvement with its corporate soul, meaning it’s not always strongly recognized as a company that gives back.
Anthropologie received a score of 70.85, buoyed by its memorable store experience evoking a sense of discovery, though the brand fell short on using technology to further the experience. The opportunity is to implement technology that does not distract from the store’s unique experience and complements the brand’s distinctive tone.
H&M, with a score of 64.25, rated high for its social media presence and engaging followers with inside access to events such as Coachella, The Met Gala and exclusive brand launches for collaborations like Balmain or Alexander Wang. But the data showed that H&M has an opportunity to make more personal connections to consumers.