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With two recent panels, the Fashion Institute of Technology aimed to help its students navigate the ever-evolving digital space.

On March 5, about 75 alumni and current students of the FIT Cosmetics and Fragrance Marketing and Management program gathered to listen to leaders in the digital space share their insights. The panel was composed of Mariah Chase, cofounder and former president of Send the Trend; Maya Mikhailov, vice president and cofounder of GPShopper; Erika Bearman, senior vice president, global communications at Oscar de la Renta; Matt Knell, social media director for AOL, and Stephanie Dishart Kramer, U.S. marketing director for Chanel. The discussion was moderated by Ellen Byron of the Wall Street Journal.

Bearman shared the digital techniques she uses for the brand to connect with current and future consumers, who shop across all of Oscar de la Renta’s luxury categories. “Optimally, social media forges a bond with consumers beyond the product sell,” she said. “It is the brand’s objective to create an aspirational brand image for our all consumers.”

Similarly, Kramer noted that consumers will generate content for your brand, “and for an aspirational brand like Chanel, it is key to maintain an aspirational brand image as consumers continue to connect with brands in an emotional way.”

Chase pointed out that things change so fast in mobile, “it is impossible to predict years into the future, but one clear trend is that the mobile screen will go beyond our mobile phones and tablets. Now, and growing in the future, consumers are connected and are using their mobile devices in-store as the concept of ‘showrooming’ grows. Consumers are increasingly using their mobile devices in store, post purchase, to further validate their purchases.”

Knell talked about the fact that different generations engage with digital platforms differently. “Millennials are always connected, and are not afraid to share, and be seen, online,” he said. “For some consumers, though, the pendulum has swung the other way, and silence and privacy is what some are craving. Brands need to understand this and strategically decide when to engage with their consumers.”

Guests were invited to tweet during the event, using #FITDigital, to continue the conversation online.
Meanwhile, last month, about 90 FIT Cosmetics and Fragrance Marketing and Management alumni and current students gathered at the House of Bumble in New York’s Meatpacking District for a presentation given by Scott Galloway and Maureen Mullen from L2, a think tank for digital innovation.

The evening kicked off with a warm welcome given by Peter Lichtenthal, president of Bumble and bumble and Smashbox Cosmetics. Next, Galloway and Mullen presented their “Brands as Media Companies” curriculum, which provided insights on how brands can generate meaningful digital content on their owned and social media properties in order to connect directly with their consumers. Galloway and Mullen highlighted brands they see as strong and digitally savvy, like Sephora, Burberry and Michael Kors. They also noted that social media platforms like Pinterest and Instagram are growing in popularity among brands and consumers alike, while Twitter is experiencing a decline.

The event was cosponsored by the Estée Lauder Cos. Inc. and FIT’s CFMM Alumni Association.

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