Times 100 Case Study Asos

 

ASOS.com is a global online fashion and beauty store based in the UK and has fast become Britain’s largest online fashion retailer, since its launch in June 2000, selling over 65,000 products from a mixture of own-label, global and local brands. They currently offer free shipping to 234 countries and have local language websites for the UK, US, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Australia, Russia and China, attracting 29.5million users per month.

Fashion is not their only forte, however, as they have also dipped their toe into the editorial market, with the launch of their own monthly magazine in 2007,  geared towards their female customer base. Alongside their magazine, which is available both in print and online, they also run an online blog called ‘Daily Newsfeed’, on which they share posts about style, beauty and celebrities.

The ASOS website is designed in a way to optimise the customer experience, with a range of handy tools and features on offer, from catwalk videos of models wearing items on sale, to the ‘ASOS Fashion Finder’ – a popular feature that showcases current fashion trends selected by the ASOS stylists and fashion bloggers. Links to each of their social media platforms can be found at the bottom of the homepage and visitors are given the option of sharing pictures of items they like on Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook and Google+ below each product listing. Easy to use apps are also available on smart phone and tablets, for the ASOS Store and Fashion Finder, making browsing simple and accessible on the move.

The target market for the ASOS brand is fashion forward twenty-somethings and ASOS know full well that their marketing needs to be innovative and fresh, in order to reach and influence their desired clientele. In response to this, they have pushed social media to its limits with their strong social media presence. ASOS have accounts on LinkedIn, Pinterest and Google+, amongst others; though they are most active on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Here’s a deeper look into how they make use these top three platforms to market their brand.

Facebook:

The ASOS Facebook page is currently one of the most popular retail brands on Facebook, with over 3.5 million fans, in comparison with other online retailers such as Boohoo’s 2.2 million and Net-a-Porter’s 1.3 million.

They use the page to promote new ranges & sales, as well as to direct traffic to articles on their blog and online magazine.

On a typical day they will post 1-2 visual updates, including at weekends; which will generally rack up a couple of hundred ‘likes’ and a dozen or so comments. The updates that tend to be the most popular amongst their fans are ones that involve celebrities; however competitions and other posts that encourage their fans to get involved themselves also receive a significant response. A recent example of this was their recent #AsSeenOnMe campaign, that asks their customers to tag photos of themselves wearing their ASOS purchases, with the opportunity of being featured in a gallery on the website. An album of photos uploaded by ASOS customers was also added to their Facebook page to showcase their current entries. This is a particularly effective marketing technique, as it builds a relationship with their customers by valuing their taste and style; at the same time as exhibiting items that are available for purchase on ASOS.com.

Customers often use the Facebook page as a means of contacting the company regarding enquiries about purchases and ASOS are diligent at responding to all of their fans questions in a helpful and polite manner, even with the most difficult of shoppers.

Twitter:

ASOS are exceptionally active on Twitter and have multiple accounts to cater for their different markets and purposes. Their primary global fashion page (@ASOS) has nearly 800,000 followers, in contrast to @Boohoo‘s 15.5k and @NetAPorter‘s 24.3k; however they also have pages for ASOS Australia/ US/France/ES/DE/Italia, ASOS Menswear, ASOS Careers, ASOS Fashion Finder, ASOS Marketplace and ASOS Greenroom.

They additionally run a separate customer care page –@ASOS_HeretoHelp, which enables them to keep their marketing and correspondence with potentially unhappy customers segregated; which is important for them to maintain a positive brand representation.

A large amount of time and resources are invested into maintaining their Twitter accounts and engaging with other users. They are remarkably attentive when it comes to responding to fans comments and enquiries, particularly on their Customer Care account, which attracts a large response.

The key use for their multiple fashion accounts is to circulate links to their current stories on their blog and magazine, however they frequently share pictures and videos from outside sources which are appropriate for their clientele.

Sunday isn't Sunday without bacon

— ASOS (@ASOS) March 2, 2014

The updates that attract the most attention from their followers are generally ones that their customers can associate with themselves, for example funny GIFs about lazy weekends and easy to apply fashion tips; usually receiving around 100 favourites and a couple of dozen retweets.

Instagram:

Unlike their Facebook and Twitter pages, ASOS have given their Instagram account a much more personal touch and present fans with a bit of a ‘behind the scenes’ insight into life at ‘ASOS HQ’.

They use Instagram much like any other user, piggy-backing on existing trends such as selfies and photos of their food. Posts often include snaps of the staff’s breakfast or coffee break, to their stylist’s outfit of the day(from ASOS of course.) This makes the brand relatable for their fans, as well as providing inspiration for them to shop on the website when they see ASOS products on real people.

Hashtags are occasionally used on posts to maximise discovery in searches, however with over 3,000 followers they aren’t always necessary and the purpose of their Instagram account appears to be more for building a relationship with fans, than marketing their products. It is in fact the ASOS customers who make more frequent use of the affiliated hashtags and over 1 million images can now be found under #ASOS, so I guess their marketing is being done for them.

In December 2014, ASOS launched an ASOS advent calendar competition with prizes to be won every day leading up to Christmas; all fans had to do was post their festive pictures with the hashtag #instaadvent. Competitions such as this may not bring much publicity to the brand from outsiders, considering you would not instantaneously associate ASOS with the hashtag ‘instaadvent,’ though the interactivity and chance to win builds a loyalty amongst customers.

Conclusion:

For ASOS, social media is the perfect tool for targeting their desired customer base of young and trendy individuals. It allows them to communicate directly with their fans, helping to build a closer and more personal relationship with their clientele and enabling their customers to have an input. This kind of personalisation, helps customers to really associate themselves with a brand, meaning they are more likely to return or recommend the company.

The high number of followers for their social media accounts speaks volumes about the efficiency of their social media presence and demonstrates how it is successfully attracting their target market. Though their accounts are mainly beneficial for the brand and bring about a lot of positive feedback, a large number of customers also use them to contact the company about their dissatisfaction with the service, which may reflect badly on the company when the posts are public. ASOS resolved this issue on Twitter with a separate customer service account; however, on Facebook and Instagram the enquiries frequently appear in comments below images shared and can only be resolved with public responses to the enquiries, which are usually dealt with well.

Overall I think that ASOS are a brand to watch on social media and other companies could seek pointers from them.


Page 1: Introduction

ASOS.com is the UK's market leader in online fashion retailing. It offers own-label, branded fashion and designer goods. Its headquarters are in Camden Town in North London. ASOS.com originally stood for As Seen on Screen. The company was set up in June 2000 with just two people to bring the latest fashion trends to shoppers as quickly as possible. It has rapidly grown to become the UK's largest independent online fashion retailer. It stocks over 22,000 product styles on its website and introduces up to 1,000 new products to its ranges each week. The ASOS.com website attracts over five million visitors a month and the company currently has around 1.2 million active customers (that is, people who have bought in the last six months). It was named Online Retailer of the Year in 2008 by Retail Week Awards.

ASOS.com provides high fashion clothing for women, men and children, as well as footwear, accessories, jewellery and beauty products. It aims these primarily at a target audience of 16-34 year olds. However, as the company continues to grow and diversify its product ranges and increase awareness, it appeals to a much wider online fashion market. Over 20% of its current customer database is aged over 35. Each week ASOS.com delivers 70,000 packages to the homes of its online customers.

ASOS.com has been able to exploit the increasing popularity of online shopping to help the business grow. According to research from IMRG UK, an organisation which tracks online sales:

  • around 50% of 1624 year olds buy clothes online more than once a month
  • 30% of women have bought clothes online
  • the total UK online spend in 2007 was £42.0 million
  • there were 26 million UK online shoppers in 2007. 

Online shopping provides customers with the convenience of making purchases whenever and wherever they like. ASOS.com' use of technology helps to increase sales by providing easy navigation around the website and helpful tools like the 'catwalk' option so items can be seen on moving models. The business also benefits from its visionary approach to traditional retailing by not having high street stores. This keeps its staffing and property costs down.

This case study shows how ASOS.com uses the product life cycle to ensure its product portfolio continues to meet the needs of its customers and provide up-to-date fashions in the fast-moving online retail industry.

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