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[12 comments]

Brazilians 'Like' Retailer's New Digital Hangers

May 8, 2012

C&A, a fashion retailer founded in the Netherlands in 1841, has gone thoroughly modern with the addition of hangers in its stores in Brazil that feature a digital readout displaying the number of people who have "liked" a particular item on the company's Facebook page.

The initiative, called Fashion Like, is another attempt by a retailer to bridge the gap between physical stores and the digital world. The chain, which operates more than 1,000 stores in 20 countries, has succeeded if for no other reason than the addition of the technology has created press coverage and online buzz. In Brazil, C&A is known for creating buzz with commercials starring celebrities such as Beyonce, Christina Aguilera, Gisele Bunchen, Ricky Martin and others.

Closer to home, a new study by hybris found that 80 percent of U.S. consumers are more likely to develop loyalty for retailers that provide an integrated shopping experience across channels.

[Image: Facebook Like Hangers]

Discussion Questions:

Discussion Questions: What do you think of C&A's Fashion Like campaign and its use of digital hangers in its stores in Brazil? What do you think are the most effective ways for retailers to bridge the gap between stores and digital, mobile and social channels?

While we value unfettered opinion, we urge you to show respect and courtesy for people or companies about whom you comment. Keep in mind that this is a public, professional business discussion. RetailWire reserves the right to edit or refuse the publication of remarks that we deem unsuitable. We may also correct for unintended spelling and grammatical errors.

Instant Poll:

How much of an effect do you think a large number of Facebook likes displayed on C&A's hangers will have on the decision by consumers to purchase an item of clothing?

Comments:

This is impressive and innovative! Most customers are followers and if they see other people like a product, it will influence their purchase decision.

I don't know if the hanger is the best touchpoint for this information but this type of information will increase sales due to the social science at play with customers who want to be in the in-crowd.

Ed Dunn, Founder, (Stealth Operation)

Clearly leaning towards the gimmicky end of things, but it's seemingly a PR success. There's really not much engagement looking at a numerical readout tucked into hanger, that may or may not have the correct item hanging from it.

REAL integration that adds REAL value for consumers is the only way to bridge the gap between stores and digital, mobile and social channels. There will be lots of fits and starts in the search for the right solutions that stick with consumers -- this being one of those fits....

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Ken Lonyai, Digital Innovation Strategist, co-founder, ScreenPlay InterActive

I think it is a terrific idea. In recent research I found that over 75% of respondents indicated that a positive comment from a friend on a social media site would make them more likely to buy a product or visit a particular food retailer or restaurant.

This is the in-store version of digital word of mouth advertising.

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Richard J. George, Ph.D., Professor of Food Marketing, Haub School of Business, Saint Joseph's University

The thing I question with this effort is whether "likes" are what influence shopper behavior. When looking at clothing in particular, aren't shoppers trying to find their own personal look and what works for them as an individual? Using technology solutions should provide value to the shopper based on what's important to them, and it seems like the focus may need to be a bit more on helping find what are the right products for the individual, which may not always be what the most popular item is.

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Matt Schmitt, President & Chief Experience Officer, Reflect

It's a gimmick. If the gimmick follows fashion trends, it may stick. Otherwise, it will enjoy 15 minutes of fame and be forgotten.

This is another attempt by retail to make stores more social. Being more social can result in increased word of mouth and sales. The hanger gimmick is sure to generate word of mouth.

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Max Goldberg, President, Max Goldberg & Associates

Sure, it's cool, but my first thought was "what an operations nightmare." Unless the display is generated by a tag on the garment, the hanger may reflect incorrect information because hangers get swapped by shoppers trying items on. This could work in small shops but not in larger formats....

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Cathy Hotka, Principal, Cathy Hotka & Associates

This is an excellent way to bring Facebook into the "real world." Customers are already converging the social networking and physical worlds through mobile devices and features such as check-in, retailers need to find ways to capitalize on this trend, and mobile hangers are a creative means of doing so.

Dan Berthiaume, Editor, Independent consultant

Very clever. Certainly there's a gimmick quality to this move (although a good, original gimmick can be worth the investment for the aforementioned press coverage -- including this thread), but there's also a core of good human psychology in this decision. It's well demonstrated in experiment after experiment that although we like to think of ourselves as individualists who make up their own minds, in reality humans are deeply influenced by what others think. This technique takes advantage of that very well. Seeing that more than 1,000 other people like this item will strongly reinforce my own desire to own it as well and will give me permission to go ahead and make a purchase.

Tim Callan, CMO, SLI Systems

Well, it's a neat idea and unique ... for the moment. Store-level maintenance of ensuring the right garments are correctly matched to the hangers may prove to diminish the gimmick's credibility. Hard to prove or confirm any of this data, and too cumbersome to try. I do like that the retailer is trying to bridge the gap between real and virtual stores.

I think having communication in-store, like this example, is a great way to create some interest and differentiation in-store.

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Ralph Jacobson, Global Consumer Products Industry Marketing Executive, IBM

A very interesting angle on how to increasing the amount of data available to shoppers in making a buying decision. We know that people will tend to select the more popular item. So the cynic in me says "Can I drive revenue in an overstocked item by increasing the popularity of the item on the hanger?" Answer is most likely yes, as proved by the wine experiment -- If you show wine experts the price of 4 wines before they taste it, they will generally agree that the most expensive one is the best. However, doing this does undermine the core of building trust.

'Irogers'

The more things change, the more they remain the same ... human beings want to be a part of the "group." The more that we insist that we want to express our individuality, the more that we just "want to fit in." And, clothing is a way of expressing that combination of individuality and fitting in.

C&A is taking it up a notch by permitting their clientele to best understand how they might "fit into a new set of clothes," by letting them know via this digital/social tool.

Sharp!

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Roger Saunders, Managing Director, Prosper Business Development

It is a simple yet brilliant idea, taking advantage of the current consumer infatuation with sharing -- which shows no sign of slowing down. I can see a next generation of this technology showing live streaming video of consumers giving testimonials of products they love, with the best retailers allowing negative commentary as well. Allowing immediate and transparent consumer feedback will soon become the new normal. What innovations will allow the cutting edge retailers to take this to the next level? Fun to watch!

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Mike Osorio, Senior VP Organizational Change Management, DFS Group

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