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The Jessica Simpson Collection might project $1 billion in retail sales for 2012, but it’s not the only enterprise of the singer-turned-fashion-mogul’s empire that’s growing exponentially.
“It’s a very powerful text message,” Simpson said of Twitter, the social medium where her personal account, @JessicaSimpson, boasts more than 3.5 million followers. “I signed up because it’s a great place to reach out to my fans. I can have a voice.”
This story first appeared in the March 28, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Simpson insists her Twitter feed isn’t a strategic thing, and her stance on the digital platform goes as follows: If something comes to her at any given moment, she will tweet it. She likes to share tidbits that she thinks will be of interest to her fans, and she might even go a week (gasp) without tweeting if she feels like it.
“It’s authentic to my emotions. I don’t want to bombard people,” Simpson said. “There’s a reason why there’s a 140-character limit.”
Jessica Simpson Collection has a company Twitter, too — (@JSCollection) — and although it has just 20,000 followers, the two accounts work together to execute the brand’s carefully crafted digital strategy. While tweets from @JSCollection are from a company standpoint, the ones from Simpson herself are genuine, said Leah Robert, vice president of licensing and marketing of Camuto Group, the brand’s master licensee. “It’s a window into her.”
Robert cites spring 2010 as the digital turning point for the company and the moment they realized the scope of Twitter’s influence. Simpson tweeted about the “Dany,” a Seventies-inspired T-strap platform sandal she wore on the cover of a single — and the shoe sold out instantly. It had to be reordered three times for jessicasimpsoncollection.com, and it’s now on open stock and available year-round. It has become an integral part of the collection and one of the brand’s best sellers.
This is evidence that social media has become a legitimate form of advertising for the brand, and it has proven quite successful in propelling retail sales and e-commerce, as well as driving traffic to the brand’s Web site. “It’s become a top blogger shoe,” Robert said of the Dany. “Rumi Neely [of the Fashion Toast blog] wears Chanel with Jessica Simpson shoes.”
Neely, whose blog gets 90,000 page views a day on average, told WWD that she wears her Dany platforms all the time. “They are so girly and whimsical, and for their towering height, they’re pretty comfortable. I usually wear them with little white dresses and denim shorts and tights.”
Robert said bloggers and blogger-centric events are paramount to spreading the brand message, and careful attention is paid to giving product to bloggers and collaborating on giveaways so their readers will be exposed to the line.
This has also encouraged the company to pre-sell on the site and add features to enhance the user experience. For example, when Simpson wears an item from her collection, she tweets about it; demand for it spikes, and a pre-sale tool is immediately enabled to take orders if the item isn’t available yet.
The Jessica Simpson Collection Facebook page has also seen growth from initiatives on the social platform, specifically since the unveiling of Jessica Simpson Jeanswear last September. The “Show Me Your Blues” campaign was the company’s foray into social media, and fans were asked to upload photos of themselves wearing styles from the denim collection on to the brand’s Facebook wall. Since the launch of this initiative, Jessica Simpson Collection’s Facebook page has seen a 400 percent increase in followers, going from just over 10,000 in September to 50,000 six months later. Employees read all user comments on jessicasimpsoncollection.com and Facebook, and that has helped the company improve customer service in the digital space, according to Robert.
Another Facebook initiative, “Win a Chance to Get Styled by Jessica,” ran from September to November, and in February, Jessica Simpson Collection partnered with Haute Look on a sweepstakes in which prizes included $500 gift certificates to both jessicasimpson.com and hautelook.com. To enter, users had to “like” both official pages. The latter sweepstakes resulted in a spike of 5,000 followers in one week.
Investing in digital will continue to be a huge focus for the brand this year, since the target customer spends so much time online.
“As the collection grows, it’s important to invest in this medium. We can control the message and go directly to the consumer. We see immediate results and can fulfill consumer needs,” Robert said. “But it is organic in terms of how we get it out there. We let Jessica break the news and we take it from there.”
A collaboration with Polyvore, implementing e-commerce on Facebook and securing more blogger partnerships are all on the digital horizon for the Jessica Simpson Collection. Said Robert, “The most amazing way to reach your customer is through social media.”