According to a Forbes article by Paul Armstrong, the rising athleisure company Fabletics is competing against retail giant Amazon (which controls nearly one-fifth of the fashion e-commerce market)…and succeeding.
Paul Armstrong notes that Fabletics is part of a growing activewear movement, utilizing a subscription based service to sell clothing to members. Members get a discount, and non-members must fill out surveys in order to provide data for the company’s continued sourcing of products. Fabletics is able to do more than simply compete; its’ strategy for sales and market positioning is what’s driving Fabletics to the top.
This means Fabletics uses a simple base from which they craft their outreach efforts and their branding in particular—Armstrong says that customers like brands that push the individual, are aspirational, and mix these emotional prods with convenience and membership functions. (shorten if you can)
Historically, brands with large market-cap and large amounts of liquid cash have had their value defined by the price and quality of goods and services, but due to changing economic conditions, competitive viability is now dependent on “last-mile service” customer experience, brand recognition, exclusive design and turning the shopping and viewing process into a game, like requiring guests to fill out quizzes and surveys. Customers are engaged and Fabletics acquires valuable data.
In short, brands that make an effort to provide competitive pricing, high-quality goods, and a real emotional connection to distinguish themselves are more important to consumer psyche than ever before.
Armstrong believes these principles are critical to Fabletics:
* Fabletics uses “reverse showrooming”
Showrooming is when people browse offline and buy items cheaper, elsewhere. Fabletics has transcended this issue by using a strategy which enables relationship building, allows Fabletics to be relied on by customers, and provides more intimacy with local markets. This has produced results: 30-50% percent of walk-ins are already members, and another 25% become members in store.
Additionally, any piece of clothing a customer tries on is added into their online cart as well. In-store buys are not consequential to revenue—retail is another element of service.
* Online shopping data
Proper product display, physically and digitally, is critical to preserve the customer’s mental journey with the brand. Fabletics maintains this connection by using online local data about preferences—as a result, stores will be able to adapt their inventory—only those products which will appeal to tastes and trends will be carried. This is gauged by social media sentiment, heat mapping data, and real-time sensitivity, in addition to membership preferences of local members. Fabletics has glued itself to data trends and providing an experience, rather than being a traditional brand.
Fabletics is successful in how it’s managing to compete against Amazon: Fast scaling, combining lifestyle trends, consumer education, and membership programs, they’ve likened themselves to a growing category of flexible, adaptable, companies that are managing to beach up against giants like Amazon and Walmart.
Lastly, Fabletics is able to garner consumer connection by smartly utilizing principles that people believe in–in this case, female empowerment, product design, and strong communication, as referenced in Tom Ward’s Forbes post on Fabletics.
Ward’s summarized it down to this: Having the right investors, notable partners (Demi Lovato), the ability to communicate honestly and clearly with customers, and lastly their desiciveness in terms of getting over early hurdles (like negative press from other celebrities) was instrumental in getting Fabletics’ roots planted.