In this placement year, I have had an opportunity to work with two knitwear brands. Both are tended to high quality, hand-knitted garment production. While working with these brands, I got to learn trends of the fashion market during a pandemic and insights into the knitwear market online. Also, social media and marketing engagement obstacles that they have that I found interesting.
Due to the constant growth of mass production, we are used to the fact that handmade, great material products are exclusive and tend to be more expensive. But the pandemic is changing the craftsmanship market. Many people are left without a job and are searching for hobbies to do during their free time spent at home. John Lewis reports that they received a massive jump in haberdashery sales during a lockdown. Also, people are not just making crafts at home but thinking about secondary income and selling their products on the e-commerce site Etsy. Etsy reports that in the second quarter of 2020, they experienced 34% seller growth compared to the previous year. This situation creates competition in the market and leads to a reduction in prices to keep those seller heads above water whose primary income is Etsy sales. But also, Etsy mentions massive growth in buyers that could be linked to store closing, boredness and the need for treating ourselves that comes from the pandemic and general capitalism. Even though there is a buyer increase, that doesn't mean it is fashion targeted. In Etsy curated podcast, the trend expert explains that trends during the pandemic are still mostly home related. Home goods, room dividers, workspaces and anything related to work at home. Fashion mostly is not needed during this time, which makes it even tougher to convince a consumer to buy your product, not the competitor's one. To summarize, I had a realisation that handmade products are becoming more popular due to more time people have to create them and sometimes linked to lack of primary income. This problem appears in my placement and as an intern, I needed to search my ways to get the brand into this jammed market.
In these placements, I got to manage three platforms - Instagram, Shopify and Etsy. One brand’s main audience is gained on Instagram but confusing was the follower and like per post ratio. Even though the brand has worked hard to gain many followers it is not visible on post likes. This difference made me look into the influencers worst enemy (or best friend?) - algorithm. What even is it, how and why is it changing from time to time? How do people know how it works? I had so many questions that I didn’t know if I will even get answers. From research, I found out that Instagram’s algorithm was unknown until recently when they shared the truth about common myths that are talked about on the platform. As it is a Facebook-owned platform, it wasn’t surprising that they took down the chronological feed and changed it to an algorithm-led feed that shows posts that it thinks is the most suitable to the user. Things that work for the benefit of creators change and at some point your profile can be in the spotlight, but after not sticking to the posting schedule for a moment, you can fade from the algorithm and not be visible to many of your followers. The biggest challenge of social media managers, brand owners and influencers is to keep up with the algorithm and know how to play with it. When you are managing a business account on Instagram or Facebook, you always end up seeing ads from a platform for you to promote posts or create ads. Ad usage as a marketing tool is important and it helps to get more engagement. But is it even possible to grow a start-up from zero without a budget allocated for ads? This made me compare the innocent start of Instagram where people just shared pictures of their lives, to the present - one of the most powerful marketing platforms that exist.
These obstacles made me curious about the world of marketing and created a desire to understand it in more depth. It feels like there are few rules that you know what to do to grow your business with marketing, and the outcome is like a lottery- either you win, or nothing happens. But is it like that? I started to learn the basics of marketing. Starting with a marketing funnel that showed me that there are many steps in goes into it, from scouting the general audience that could be interested, to analyzing the basis of getting the target audience that will eventually end up purchasing product/service and make conversion rate higher. For any business, social media appearance comes as an advantage if it is done well. While studying Design Management, we touch on many different management sides, and it gets confusing when you know a bit from each section, but you are not specialising in one of them. I am grateful for this year because it allows me to try them out and potentially find the right one for me.
Digital marketing is even more evolved during the pandemic. Social media platforms are saturated with a wide range of businesses trying to get their audience attention. Marketing is an industry that changes and evolves all the time. It is in businesses hands to choose how much time and money they want to invest in it.