In the three decades since Tommy Hilfiger founded his eponymous label, the fashion landscape has changed beyond recognition. In the 1990s, Tommy Hilfiger was one of the most dominant fashion brands on the market.

It was the height of cool among young urban consumers, with stars including Kate Moss, Snoop Dogg and the members of Destiny’s Child buying into its preppy style of American sportswear. It tapped into pop culture in a way other brands failed to do, building relationships in a genuine and believable way. (Fast Company) Smart Associations – By getting connected to musicians and rappers, who were not focused on earlier, the brand got high reach early on.

Yet as the brand grew up, so too did its audience and Tommy Hilfiger struggled in recent years to attract subsequent generations. The founder had been grappling with keeping the fashion appealing to a new generation of consumers, yet without eroding its identity.

But all that has changed over the past 12 months. Taking cues from other more forward thinking industries with the launch of its ‘see now buy now’ model #TommyNow, and via a tie up with one of social media’s hottest properties Gigi Hadid, Tommy Hilfiger has once again become desirable, sought after label. Not just among its core, loyal followers but with a whole new army of younger fans.

Gigi Effect

With the level of influence and Fashion Association, Gigi Hadid is a key influencer for the new generation (Marketing Week)
With 34.9 million followers on Instagram and 5.2 million more on Twitter, the 22-year-old supermodel has serious reach. The fact she not only fronted the campaign and walked the catwalk but designed the capsule TommyXGigi collection for the brand helped build that credibility further.

#TommyNow for Impatient Customers
#TommyNow was a fashion show, which allowed consumers to immediately purchase items they viewed at the show. (Campaign India)
With the advent of technology, patience levels of customers has substantially reduced. Customers expect responses/deliveries in five minutes or less.

“The level of service that businesses like Uber and Airbnb offer means we have to [keep up]. People won’t suddenly switch their mindset and say ‘for fashion it’s OK that we wait six months’. If it’s happening everywhere else, inevitably people are going to have the same expectations of our industry.”

The brand revolutionised the way the fashion industry works by making items seen on the catwalk available immediately online and in Tommy Hilfiger stores across 70 countries the next day – a process that normally takes six months.
By embracing new technology Tommy Hilfiger has also attracted a younger audience – 35% of which are now under 35.

Engagement also improved significantly, with 2.5 billion impressions generated across its major channels and over 10 million likes and comments via #TommyNow. Searches for Tommy Hilfiger on Google were also up 60% year-on-year.

The job now is to take the #TommyNow concept to other markets. The brand has been the first to launch a specific collection for Muslim women as well as planned to launch its beachwear collection for India. The brand will also be looking at how it can adapt the concept for its menswear business.

Fashion and technology have one thing in common – no it is not ‘shorter the better‘ – both of them need to be learnt and unlearnt EVERY DAY!
According to the brand experts, while Productivity, Product Relevance, increasing point of sales and visibility still drive the brand, one of the biggest principles of the brand is to drive consistent Online and offline customer experiences, avoiding discounts and ensuring supplies. (India Retailing – 1, 2)

Adopting a startup mentality
The brand practices iterative learning – launch, test, learn, adjust and go back to the drawing board and start again.
One such idea is the TMY.GRL chatbot, which has generated more than 46,000 messages since its inception. The chatbot lets consumers explore items from the brand’s new collection by asking questions that help identify a customer’s individual tastes and size. Any items suggested by the chatbot can then be bought from the Tommy Hilfiger website where their recommendations will be waiting in the basket.

Failure is the new Fad. 
In my previous post, it was the Coca Cola CEO who wanted his team to fail more often and be tolerant to more ideas. Now it is the Brand Manager of Tommy Hilfiger who wants her team to fail more often!

Failure is the new mantra to succeed. Must say, it’s a world of Oxymorons!

According to Avery Baker, chief brand officer, “Becoming more relevant to the youth is difficult. Tommy is a USD 6.6 billion company, operating in 130 countries. So getting this big a company to change was difficult. We changed our creative DNA in less than six months.”  

While today’s Tommy Hilfiger customers span a wide demographic–the brand has a children’s line and clothes designed for older customers who have stuck loyally to the brand for decades–it has always been associated with fresh-faced models channelling vigour and youth.

Whether Models / Celebrities work better or mascots is a topic parked for a subsequent post. For now, Is Gigi the (Victoria) Secret to a brand’s Success? Maybe Tommy HilFigered it out!

Pic Sources – Summer Collection, Gigi Hadid, Gigi-Victoria and Gigi-3

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