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Once H&M‘s U.S. customers got the ability to buy products directly in Instagram, it didn’t take long for the fast-fashion retailer to launch a social media influencer program, the H&M League.

Instagram on March 19 launched Insta-checkout, a new feature in the U.S. market that allows users to shop directly from inspirational images without having to leave the platform. The checkout tool, which is in beta test mode, has been made available to nearly two dozen retailers. Dior, Balmain, Burberry, Nike, Michael Kors, Zara, Uniqlo and Revolve, among others, are offering Insta-checkout to their consumers, in addition to H&M.

The H&M League, with 22 social media personalities serving as ambassadors, marks the Swedish brand’s first influencer program in the U.S.

Ambassadors, all with different styles, backgrounds and personalities, will deliver content directly to consumers through their own Instagram accounts during their yearlong partnership with H&M. Two influencers will film YouTube videos in addition to posting on Instagram.

H&M’s ambassadors will be expected to showcase new collections and promote special events to give consumers behind-the-scenes peeks into the brand and tell the story of H&M. The program will kick off with a series of events and content creation moments during the festival season in Palm Springs, Calif.

“League brand ambassadors are required to post a set amount of H&M-related content every month,” a spokesman said. “There will be opportunities for them to collaborate with the brand on different types of projects, such as events, exclusive [products], and early access to new collections.”

The H&M spokesman said the retailer “saw a need to build more long-term relationships with a wide group of influencers who represent all H&M customers and embody brand values. This group of influencers will help [get the word out about] special projects and initiatives through their own digital content creation.”

League member Brittany Xavier, a former marketing executive with more than 1 million Instagram followers, has a knack for mixing high and low fashion. In her daily posts, Xavier features luxury and fast-fashion mash-ups, from street style looks to outfits for fashion industry events and go-to pieces for travel.

Arielle Charnas, whose Something Navy blog has a massive following, started out online by posting outfits and showcasing her personal style. She parlayed her loyal audience into endorsements for fashion, beauty and lifestyle brands, and launched in September an apparel collection sold exclusively at Nordstrom.

Mariale Marrero commands 25 million followers over multiple English and Spanish-language social platforms, including YouTube channels, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. The Venezuelan former biologist who now lives in Los Angeles, offers fans beauty, fashion and lifestyle tips.

“The H&M League brand ambassadors were chosen based on style, content, personality, audience, brand affinity, reach and engagement,” said the spokesman. “It’s important to H&M that each influencer is representative and relatable to different types of H&M customers and upholds the important values of the brand every day. The influencers were treated in the same way as anyone entering the H&M family, and went through a formal interview process.”

The H&M League members will work on hyping collaborations and H&M’s Conscious collections.

H&M Group, which includes & Other Stories, COS, Monki and Weekday in addition to H&M, reported a 41 percent drop in first-quarter profits due to continued investments in improving its logistics system and online services. Adding to the steep percentage decline, the same period last year was boosted by a one-off tax measure in the U.S.

While the group posted growth in the U.S., H&M is “not really where we want to be” in that market, Karl-Johan Persson, chief executive officer, said during a quarterly conference call with analysts.

“We see that we can improve more there, but it’s a step in the right direction from the disappointing development in the U.S.,” Persson added. H&M is building a new 1.184 million-square-foot, high-tech logistics center on the West Coast, scheduled to open in 2020.



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