The Digital Innovators: Investigating the Digital Dilemma

The truth is, digital is still foreign for many brands, which explains why some continue to do small digital tactics instead of diving into bigger, digital (and social) campaigns. It's hard to imagine not going digital but that is a route brands go down. Brands should aim to be the innovators like the ones mentioned yesterday, not just a simple digital destination. Which leads us to the second part in in our three-part Digital Innovator series…

fashion digital

Why aren't more brands adopting more innovative digital initiatives?

As digital is still a growing field, many brands are slow to adopt to new technologies and more digitally advanced marketing campaigns. If their consumer is spending most of their time in digital, wouldn't more brands be jumping at the chance to do more in that field? There are a few reasons why brand's lack the innovative digital push including:

Money, fear of the unknown,  resources, and traditional company culture.

L2 Think Tank's AndreaDerricks explains, “The lack of ability to directly attribute sales to digital efforts is often cited as a reason for holding back from increasing investment. However, that same issue exists for magazines as well, but there is still an astonishing amount of investment in print advertising by fashion brands, even as consumption has declined.”

Settling for the current digital success brands are experiencing plays a big role in why a majority of brands shy away from the more bold digital strategies. Digital becomes less about experimentation, more about safety. Chief Marketing Officer of Offerpop Mark Cooper stated,

“There is a tendency for companies to settle, especially once you have a program that works and delivers a steady revenue. What we’re finding in social is that the brands that continue to experiment even after they achieve initial success are the ones who are taking digital to the next level. The ongoing experimentation is absolutely vital, especially as digital and social are fairly new.”

Digital IFB ConferenceTo be fair, it's not just money that is restricting brands. It's also manpower and time. Rachel Arthur from  WGSN says, “Some of the best and most famous designers in the world only have one or two team members controlling their digital activity (meaning everything from online advertising, website builds / management, e-commerce, social and more), which realistically means little in the way of true “innovation” is likely to be seen. For them, it’s more about keeping their heads above water, being present where they need to be, and not having capacity to do much more.” There is simply not enough resources to cover digital, which leads me to think that maybe brands need to rethink their marketing strategies and team overall. Going digital requires money & time  and brands should invest more into their digital efforts as more people are spending time in front of their computer or on their smartphone.

But to really push ahead with digital, a brand's entire corporate culture would need to be altered. Macala Wright, Head of Digital Innovation and Strategy for Group Partners and Retail & Business Columnist, says “Going outside any safe zone is the scariest thing for any company I encounter. Often when they say the way to be innovative and creative with digital, they really aren't ready for it when they see what “innovative could/does entail”. One of the most dangerous things a brand could do is to fail to recognize that media as we know changes rapidly. This lack of awareness or understanding is completely detrimental to a brand's success.

What can a team do to bolster support for a digital team? Wright emphasizes the need for more hands-on training and workshops within a brand, stating,

I think it's important to take a step back and look at the cause of the struggle. You must understand: knowledge,ability to execute and scale are related to having processes for education and training that are built into the company's work flow. That all goes into business strategy and long vision. More and more, I'm backing up and starting with that before I jump into the mix.”

Like bloggers, brands need to constantly be monitoring the industry and anticipating challenges in order to seize key opportunities to engage with their consumers. Keeping an eye on the horizon keeps a brand in the proactive role, instead of the reactive role.

Stay tuned for tomorrow's final portion of the Digital Innovators series where we talk about what today's digital innovators are anticipating for the future and what you can learn.
Image credit: Burberry Resort 2012 from FGR

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