The ‘Markle’ effect

August 13, 2018 / By  

Meghan Markle’s royal status and public exposure has created the ‘Markle effect’. Although not a sponsored influencer[1], the Duchess of Sussex’s outfit choices at public appearances have resulted in an increase in sales for retailers whose items she was seen wearing. For Australian brands Oroton and Camilla and Marc, the ‘Markle effect’ resulted in the items being sold out globally.

This is not a new phenomenon. Outfits worn by other members of the royal family such Kate Middleton have proven advantageous, to the Australian brand Zimmerman.

However, imminent change is set for global online marketplace as artificial intelligence technologies are adopted by retailers in their advertising and brand awareness strategies. This powerful technology has the potential to revolutionise the way we shop online. In May 2018, a new social media application ‘Browzzin’[2] was launched in the United Kingdom, piloting the new technology and establishing a new online shopping marketplace. The app, which partners with Instagram, leverages off artificial intelligence to eliminate pain points of online shopping and goes further to create a new customer offering.

Instagram, an online photo and video sharing application, is just one of the many social media platforms currently being used by retailers to broaden their online customer reach. The app has become a key sales and marketing channel for many retailers. The photo-sharing giant recently added a ‘shopping tag’ feature which has removed a friction point in the online transaction process between retailers and consumers by redirecting them to the retailer’s website.

Today’s retailers are more than ever actively pursuing these opportunities and paying influencers to utilise their social media exposure as part of their wider marketing strategies.

Apart from creating their own company Instagram accounts, retailers today are also engaging with consumers via influencers to maximise exposure via sponsorships. Influencers are generally fashion and beauty bloggers, or fitness gurus who have significant social media following. When an influencer posts a photo wearing a brand’s product, it gives credibility to the product and quickly helps spread the virtual conversation about the brand and endorses the product throughout the online marketplace.

Today’s dynamic and increasingly competitive retail landscape calls for retailers to create an active and diverse digital presence.

But again evolving technology has facilitated change in the online transaction process. ‘Browzzin’ via artificial intelligence has now removed the need for Instagram’s current ‘shopping tag’ feature. The application is able to identify items worn by an individual in a post, or alternatively suggest a similar item. The app also goes further than traditional aggregate shopping sites by centralising the transaction process and giving non-influencer Instagram users the opportunity to make money. Through partnerships with Instagram and retailers, Browzzin users are given a commission if a sale results from their post.

Retailers that exploit these new technologies and embrace change will be more likely to achieve superior sales results. Retailers are investing in their online platforms as an avenue of growth. Store rationalisation by retailers is likely to remain a prominent theme in the short term.

[1] Influencers are people with a high number of followers
[2] Browzzin is not yet available to Australian consumers. The app was reported to have launched with two million available items from 10,000 brands across the United Kingdom. It is unknown whether the app will be offered to the Australian market although it has been reported this is the intention of the owners.

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