Country Road’s Facebook voting campaign empowered consumers, but does the strategy work?

Country Road’s campaign to allow consumers to vote on their favourite apparel pieces reportedly led to around 60 items from the brand’s archive being reproduced and put back into store.

The fashion retail business hosted a Facebook campaign in July 2012, enabling its fans to choose the pieces they wanted to see remade from the vault of its collections spanning from 2007 to 2012.

The pieces were to be made and sold in the winter 2013 offer, which hit stores earlier this year. Country Road promised that the Facebook users would be “first to know” when the goods were ready for purchase.

The social media approach appears to have worked, with Country Road chief executive Iain Nairn reportedly “enthused” about how technology is facilitating these types of marketing approaches, according to an interview in The Australian Financial Review today.

The idea of consumers driving the product offer of a business is not new, as on a basic level companies react to what sells and what doesn’t when it comes to creating future product lines.

However, The Grand Social chief executive officer Jean-Claude Abouchar told SmartCompany this morning that Country Road’s strategy was an extension of the old mail-in competition or phone poll, but was easily up-scaled thanks to social media.

The online retail expert says brands in the food and beverage spheres have always been good at engaging customers in product choice, with consumers invited to select flavours or packaging they want to see on the supermarket shelves.

However, using social media to influence the mix of products offered by an apparel retailer is taking it to the next level. Abouchar says it is part of a bigger trend occurring across many product categories internationally.

In the case of Country Road, Abouchar says the exercise demonstrates “best practice” in social marketing, as it engages consumers in the decision-making process, taps into a sense of nostalgia about a brand and could lead to more sales.

He thinks brands with a long heritage and loyal following, who can tap into a consumer’s “emotional connection” with the goods on offer are most likely to benefit from this type of product development.

Abouchar didn’t see it as a problem that consumers could increasingly have a say in the product range created by businesses, believing businesses would still have control.

Product voting via social media is just one of the many key trends in retail. SmartCompany recently reported on the ten key ways the retail store is changing.

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