Sector insight: Fashion and beauty

The fashion and beauty sectors are in rude health, but the need to stay ahead of the game calls for forward-thinking experiential strategies.

Experiential sector insight: fashion and beauty
Experiential sector insight: fashion and beauty

The British fashion industry got off to a bumper start in 2015. The sector has outperformed the wider UK economy by seven per cent in recent years, according to consumer insights company Kantar Worldpanel, while last summer saw the fastest rate of volume growth in more than five years.

There has been a rise in prices across both sectors, as well as an increased demand for high-quality goods. According to the Office for National Statistics' Producer Price Index, clothing, textiles and leather product prices rose 2.3 per cent in the year to June 2014.

Furthermore, sales of prestige beauty products grew to £2.3bn in the UK last year, driven by significant growth in sales of make-up, according to market analyst NPD Group.

Victoria Archbold, who heads the events team at Hearst Magazines UK, looking after the Cosmopolitan, Company and Red magazine brands, believes the positivity and growth of both sectors comes from complementary brands working together as part of a genuine partnership.

"If we - the brand - and the sponsor can create a win for the consumer by giving them a good experience, it's a big win for us too because it should create advocacy," she explains.

A plethora of activations within the past six months highlight this argument, including Reebok and Les Mills' experiential fitness tour, which launched last year and is continuing throughout 2015, and Wedgwood's pop-up millinery showroom with the British Fashion Council at last year's London Fashion Week.

Timebased Events creative director Richard Dodgson agrees, but thinks fashion and beauty brands are looking to other sectors for inspiration. "Collaborating with technology innovators such as Twitter, Oculus Rift and Microsoft could offer opportunities for fashion brands - from Google Glass and Hololens to tweeting to buy," he says. "Budgets are a challenge in every sector. To create show-stopping events that compete with iconic brands like Burberry, originality is key. You need new, disruptive ideas that impress your audience."

Sustain the pace

The fast-paced nature of both fashion and beauty means that brands always need knowledge if they are to stay ahead of the game, as Emma Freeman, head of marketing at Headmasters, explains. "The beauty sector, in particular hair, moves forward so quickly with new techniques and trends constantly emerging. For Headmasters it is important that we keep the level of education strong, ensuring that our teams are always in the know and prepared for any marketing events we propose," she says.

"At these events we always have a strong and consistent backdrop that makes us stand out. It is important for us to have all PR materials ready so that we can create picture moments to be used on social media, in particular Instagram, so that we can promote further to a wider audience."

More: Three fashion and beauty brands on experiential – British Fashion Council, Clothes Show Live and Hearst

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