Want to reach a young consumer? Send a text or Facebook message.
It's no secret that Southpole's target customers are attached to their computers and smartphones 24/7. So it makes perfect sense to use those devices to build a brand message. That's just what Southpole did last month when it relaunched and revamped its Web site, southpole-usa.com.
Before 2009, the company's Internet effort was more of an electronic brochure geared toward its corporate clients. And as recently as this spring, the site was still very corporate-driven. Seasonal products were barely showcased — only updated when look-books were uploaded. On top of that, the site depended on flash technology while other companies were converting to a more html-friendly format.
But that all changed this summer when the new site went live.
"The Web site is an increasingly important tool for us to communicate who we are as a brand to consumers as opposed to just our corporate partners," said Jodi Ju, senior creative designer for Web and print at Southpole.
The upgrade stemmed from the company's desire to have "a more active dialogue with consumers, especially as Facebook and Twitter have become indispensable points of contact," said Jean Luc Rim, Southpole's director of licensing and interim director of marketing. Flash technology became outdated as the iPad surged onto the scene, and the company sought to provide a "better representation of Southpole as a lifestyle brand."
The new site is Facebook open-graph enabled, allowing users to "like" certain items on the site. Users can also customize their experience by selecting from three backgrounds — young men's, young women's or summer 2011.
There's a Mix 'N' Match fashion moodboard tab, an interactive feature where visitors can select different pieces from the Southpole collection to create their own look. Those looks can then be shared with friends on Facebook.
The Southpole Style community board allows users to share photos of themselves in their favorite Southpole looks. "We love seeing how consumers pair our pieces and integrate them into their wardrobes," Rim said.
Polls allow visitors to weigh in with their opinions on different questions — a recent query asked customers to select their favorite season — and can be linked to social networks.
The company also employs blogs on the site to serve as a "platform for us to communicate our marketing campaigns, including our current 'Speak Up, Step Up' multiplatform anti-bullying initiative as well as our partnership with the World of Dance competition," Rim said.
The blogs fall into two separate categories: "Yes, That's Fresh," a spot to feature the latest Southpole products and trends that are generating buzz internally, and "Extra, Extra!" This blog is where the company posts stories relating to the news, entertainment or the arts.
"This gives us a platform to articulate our brand identity outside of just clothing and strengthen the relationship and dialogue we have with our customers," Rim said. "This is a forum for us to share pieces of culture that inspire our creative process and give customers a deeper understanding of who we are."
There's a "Featured Looks" section, which replaces the electronic look book and allows the company to post a variety of product images and styled shots from its ad campaigns.
Other features on the site include a store locator, a special section for the press, and corporate information, all of which are updated frequently.
One thing the site doesn't do, however, is sell product. "As a wholesaler we do not have e-commerce," Rim said. "With the Web site, we can now feature product images from our seasonal collections. Southpole's product offering is greatly regionalized — the Web site allows us to show our entire selection of available items that we curate ourselves."
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