The ongoing pandemic, political unrest and supply chain disruptions have jarred fashion apparel and beauty retailing while also continuing to feed uncertainty into the market. Most consumers, however, are resilient and have adjusted by shifting their behavior — spending more online, and on mobile devices, while also going directly to a brand to make purchases.
And while the customer journey can now start in any number of places (on social media, in a store, or on a brand’s website), one thing is certain for fashion and beauty brands who are looking to succeed in a tumultuous market: having a media plan with clear goals and targets is vital. But how do you build an effective media plan?
According to the experts at DMR Group, which monitors over 4,500 newspapers and magazines, 100,000 websites and 28,000 selected social media accounts, media planning is rapidly evolving and requires mixing different media with different goals. Media planning is a strategic exercise, says the company, which has a client list that includes LVMH, Prada, Balenciaga, Fendi and Versace, among many others. DMR Group works closely with fashion apparel, beauty and luxury clients to develop a 360-degree media plan program that leverages DMR’s unique knowledge, market experience and analytical insights.
When it comes to developing an impactful media plan, DMR Group notes that it starts with defining specific targets and goals. Defining the scope of the program bolsters its effectiveness while also optimizing available resources. Enzo di Sarli, DMR Group President and Founder, says that each channel offers different opportunities and options.
For example, if a brand is in an established universe such as the fashion, luxury, and cosmetics industries, print is likely the only way to share stunning and beautiful images as well as messages that can have lasting resonance in the consumers’ mind.
“We all remember outstanding print advertising campaigns over the years,” di Sarli says, adding that online and social media are more useful in immediately engaging readers and users, calling on them to act quickly. But the impact is short-lived due to the sheer number of sites and social posts that are generated daily. As a result, a media plan must involve a careful blend of print, online and social — while always aligning with a program’s goals and targets.
Media plans can also vary in scope and purpose between industry segments. For example, as the beauty industry can offer more affordable products in terms of price — nudging consumers to buy quickly, brands are more oriented to invest money in digital.
“Think about how many paid posts by beauty influencers you see on Instagram,” di Sarli says. “Our report on IG Sponsored Posts from February to August 2020 highlighted how beauty was the industry less impacted by the decrease of sponsored posts compared to fashion and watches and jewelry.”
With fashion and luxury, brands are more committed to establishing a long-term relationship with their customers. Their focus is on brand positioning and awareness, and inclusivity as they invite clients into their world, building a trusted relationship over time. “However, the fundamental guidelines remain the same,” di Sarli says. “From brand positioning and awareness to conversions, each channel can support brands in reaching different results. Starting with clear goals, companies can decide their unique media mix and focus on short-, mid-, and long-term objectives.”
It’s important to note that within the fashion, beauty and luxury media ecosystems, publishers play an important role in media planning and strategizing. Indeed, DMR Group describes their role as “critical,” pointing out that many fashion and beauty publishers have been in the industry for decades, “so they perfectly know markets, brands, and dynamics,” DMR says.
Media companies have also evolved, updating their offerings and services to include a 360-degree approach to content creation. “Leveraging their insights and knowledge, publishers can support brands to put together the best strategy to gain their objects and split their resources at best, across channels and goals,” di Sarli says.
Another key element for a successful and effective media plan execution is analysis. DMRGroup sees analysis as fundamental in assessing a media plan’s effectiveness. As market conditions are unpredictable, analyzing impact is the only way for brands to learn, and move forward. And given the challenges in today’s market, a deep analysis of media campaigns is the best approach to ensure cost-effectiveness.
“Looking at our clients, we can see that the number of customized analyses increased over the last months, becoming even more comprehensive,” di Sarli says. “This effect is understandable, and we are happy to keep supporting them in these uncertain times.”
When measuring success and ROI, DMR Group says Earned Media Value (EMV) is calculated for a brand’s activity within each channel — print, social and online. EMV is a monetary value and each channel is measured differently. By tracking the EMV of a project during a specific period, a brand can understand if it was effective or not and, if requested by the brand, can be compared by DMR Group experts to similar outcomes in the competitive space.
Media plans are also shaped by macroeconomic conditions and other market disruptions. The outbreak of COVID-19, for example, triggered a shift in how media plans were executed. In several market analysis reports this year, DMR Group found that the onset of COVID-19 had frozen media plans as brands didn’t fully know the impact of the pandemic and couldn’t predict how the outbreak would evolve.
“After a few months and some recovery in a few regions, brands started again to plan but, facing uncertain times, had to shift to a more flexible approach,” di Sarli says. “If brands had the opportunity to work on longer predictions until now, the situation is too changeable. Media planning must be rapidly adaptable to different scenarios and goals. Companies have to continually analyze markets and media always to have updated insights to align their strategies.”
In this sense, DMR Group sees publishers as the “perfect allies for the brands.” Publishers can regularly keep track of the markets and offer a variety of print, online, and social solutions, “giving brands the chance to mix them and quickly change the plan, shifting investments from one to another in case of urgent need,” the company says.
The current market also requires a bit of agility and flexibility. Challenging times will likely continue. In some regions, such as Asia, spending is bouncing back while countries such as France, Italy and the U.K. face a fresh round of restrictions. So, DMR Group stresses that it is essential to have the capacity to act fast and be effective.
“Companies wanting to work on an international level can’t think to operate with rigid schemas,” di Sarli says. “If you think about climate change protests or Black Lives Matter movement, our world has become too complicated, and there are too many conditions that can change very quickly. Agility and flexibility are keywords for the future.”
When asked about trends in media planning, DMR Group says the evolution of the publishing industry has accelerated during the pandemic. In general terms, online and digital seem to offer more affordable options to reach broad audiences. But brands shouldn’t solely focus on online channels. To be effective, media plans should be balanced across all platforms and channels.
Looking ahead, DMR Group does see a shift to digital as an ongoing trend; however, it needs to be part of a balanced program that includes print and social. “Overall, brands will probably spend less money on media waiting to understand better what will happen,” di Sarli says. “But, as the situation returns to normality, like what is occurring in China, strong media investment will return as a way for brands to differentiate themselves from their competitors.”
And as social media continues to grow and shape content consumption, DMR Group expects to see investments in newer platforms, such as TikTok, which is now being monitored by the company as top fashion and beauty brands leverage it.
“The trend that will never stop in media planning is the analysis, and it will increasingly keep growing,” di Sarli says. “Indeed, for each new opportunity, brands will need to study it in depth to leverage it at best.”