Q&A With Michelle Cordeiro Grant, Founder & CEO of LIVELY

2016.3.16_Lively_Headshots6892_color (1)LIVELY, one of the fastest growing lingerie startups, built their brand on the foundation of community. With over 100,000 brand ambassadors, LIVELY is home to a thriving community of women that have helped shape the brand’s approach to everything from the content they create to the products they launch. 

We had a chance to get to know more about LIVELY’s approach to community, COVID, and the future with their CEO & Founder, Michelle Cordeiro Grant.

What is your role at LIVELY and what does your day-to-day look like?

Michelle Cordeiro Grant, Founder & CEO at LIVELY.  

There’s no typical “day-to-day,” at a startup, but I’m still trying to keep the same routines now as I did prior to COVID-19. I still wake up every morning at 6:30 a.m. to have a coffee and fit a quick workout in, which is what I did when I was going into the office. The only difference is I’ve turned my commute time into time to do an activity with my kids, which looks different every day – it can be baking, doing projects or even just sitting down and chatting with them. That’s been really special for us and it helps keep our environment calm, normal and exciting. After that, I’ll sign on for the day to see where LIVELY is at – checking our sales data, catching up with the team on marketing initiatives, and checking in on production and inventory, to name a few things. I’ve also continued my “walk and talk” routine on days when I have a lot of calls. This method helps me to be more present, and it gives my mind and creativity the boost it needs to help keep me going throughout the day.

How important is empathy and purpose in your approach to connecting with your brand’s community?

LIVELY’s M.O. is empowering women to live life passionately, purposefully, and confidently. To that end, we are always reaching out to our community to understand where their interests and passions lie so we can ensure we’re always serving up content, products, and experiences that speak to them. Our 100K+ Ambassadors are core to everything we do, and this community is a two-way street. Because of their enthusiasm about what we’re doing, we can really amplify social media and word-of-mouth efforts beyond our own marketing channels to reach women all over the U.S. 

Can you give some insight into how the ambassador community started at LIVELY and how you’ve been able to grow it to over 100,000 ambassadors?

Before even having a product or a brand, LIVELY focused on building a community. Prior to launch, we hosted Airbnb focus groups to understand what women were looking for in the lingerie category, and we also began creating a movement on social media featuring inspirational quotes and images, which generated a flood of DMs and comments from women asking how they could be a part of what we were building. Although we’ve evolved to accommodate the incredible growth in our network, we’ve remained committed to connecting with our community on their terms, through Instagram, events, and other mediums.

With such a large community of ambassadors, how are you keeping them engaged and connected not only to the LIVELY brand, but also to each other? 

We regularly reach out to them directly to ask them what they want to see in upcoming product launches, events, content, etc. We also feature them in our emails and social media, as well as give them a platform to share their own passions and interests. You’ll see our Ambassadors hosting events in our stores (when they were open), and also leading workshops and tutorials on our Instagram content series called “#LivingLIVELY At Home.” We also have a Facebook group where they can interact, and we’re constantly thinking up new ways to connect them with one another. 

 How has your strategy shifted to adapt to the current climate? Do you see these trends lasting in the long run?

As customers began spending all of their time at home, we immediately switched all of our content, messaging, and marketing to focus on comfort and being at home. With that, we pivoted from a brand that would right now be focused on our swimwear category into one that is all about lounge and comfy bras and bralettes. By putting ourselves in the mindset of the consumer we were able to completely switch our messaging and lean into loungewear to accommodate their needs.

Additionally, we’ve introduced a new bundles feature on our website. Keeping our customer top-of-mind, one thing we’re pushing to innovate is convenience: as customers are spending more and more time on their phones, we wanted to figure out how we could make that shopping experience even more seamless. Up until this point, we’ve offered bundles where customers could buy 2 bras for $60, and 3 for $80, but shoppers would have to separately add products to their cart in order for the promotion to activate. To help make the experience as easy and accessible as possible, we’ve moved bundles to the forefront of the site, creating packs that customers can easily add in one go. Since introducing it we’ve seen a significant positive shift in the business – it’s a small tweak but it goes a long way.

Lastly, we quickly transformed what would have been our in-store events to engaging social media content through “#LivingLIVELY At Home”, our IG series where we’re creating content each week ranging from female founder chats and skincare routines to cooking tutorials and workouts, to keep our community engaged and serve as an underlying point of positivity for them. We also recently launched the second season of LIVELY’s podcast No Makeup Needed, where we’re bringing the mentor coffee date straight to your headphones by sitting down with empowered women we know our community will look up to. We also launched our virtual styling sessions to replace in-store fit sessions, where customers can connect with LIVELY fit experts through 30-minute virtual sessions to get product recommendations and figure out what sizes and styles are best for them based on their personal needs. 

What do you think is in store for the future of word-of-mouth marketing?

Consumers are going to be very intentional with their purchases and will go back to brands they felt prioritized them during this time. Other brands will need to lean into the idea of being flexible, agile and community-first if they weren’t already – it’s not about changing your core products or your core values, it’s about what you’re leaning into and your messaging and tone.

 
Thank you, Michelle! To learn more about LIVELY, visit them at wearlively.com or on Instagram.

Brands Embracing Community Through The Pandemic

The past few months have been an undeniably stressful period for our global community. Throughout this time of social distancing we’ve faced a natural disaster, economic downturn, and heard the phrase “uncertain times” more times than we can count. While we still may not know when this will all be behind us, we do know that this pandemic has brought people together in new, inspiring ways that truly display the resiliency of the human spirit. 

Below we’re highlighting some of the brands — big and small — that are doing their part to bring people together, encourage community, and provide good news in a time when there simply isn’t enough of it. 

La Colombe 

La Colombe was created with a simple vision, “to make the world better through coffee”, and since 1994 they have done so through their advocacy for National Parks, providing children with school lunches, and supporting Haitian coffee farmers. While La Calombe continues to support these issues, they’ve also been engaging their community virtually through their “Brewing at Home with La Colombe” series, & inviting their fans to show off how they’re brewing their coffee at home. 

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Throughout this pandemic, small, mission-driven businesses have certainly been hit hard, and it’s essential that we continue to support them through this uncertain time. That’s why coffee brewers La Colombe have started the #STANDWITHSMALL campaign, which encourages consumers to vote with their wallet and support small businesses that have always been there to support others in their times of need. For many business owners, a united front is going to be the key to making it through this pandemic, as maintaining a strong and healthy community of small businesses is essential to our nation’s economy.

Allbirds

Allbirds, who specialize in comfortable sneakers made from naturally sourced and recycled materials, have been donating their products to those who need support the most right now: healthcare workers. Allbirds has donated $500,000 worth of shoes to the healthcare community, and are continuing these donations through their “Buy a Pair, Give a Pair” program, which aims to provide as many healthcare workers as possible with a new pair of Wool Runners, and encourage their online community to contribute however they can. Allbirds are certainly stepping up to the plate and making a positive change in a supportive and sustainable way.

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Chipotle

While Chipotle typically keeps us busy on our lunch breaks, they’ve now been doing their part to keep us busy online! Through their “Chipotle Together” online video sessions on Zoom, Chipotle has been staying socially engaged with their fans throughout social distancing. These video sessions connect fans with celebrities and influencers, such as Colton from The Bachelor and former NFL Star Rob Gronkowski, and allows them to interact in a way that’s never quite been done before. It’s essential that we stay connected and engaged through times like these, as maintaining a strong community is going to be the key to getting through this together, and Chipotle is doing just that!

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Glossier 

As many of us know, scrubbing and sanitizing your hands incessantly can often lead to dry skin. No one is doing this on a more consistent basis then healthcare workers, so Glossier has stepped up to provide their services! Over the past month they’ve donated thousands of Glosser balms, face mists, and moisturizers to try and help provide comfort to these healthcare workers. In addition to this, they’ve announced their first line of Hand Creams, set to release on April 23rd, and will be launching it by giving away the first 10,000 units to healthcare workers in need! Gestures such as these show that no matter what field we’re in, there’s something that we’re capable of providing to those within our community who need it in times such as these.

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Sarah Flint

Sarah Flint is a brand that has been particularly affected by the pandemic, as the majority of their manufacturing factories are located in Italy. Nonetheless, as this issue hits incredibly close to home for Sarah Flint, they’ve decided to launch the #StandInSupport campaign, which aims to provide women who are working on the front lines of fighting this virus with a brand new pair of Sarah Flint shoes. Be it medical workers, janitors, pharmacists, grocery store workers, anyone who has to put themselves out there during this irregular time, Sarah Flint wants to thank them, sharing, “We are so appreciative, and in awe, of the work being done”. Although it may be some time before these gifts are able to be put to use, this act of kindness is a genuine display of how brands are able to build and encourage community, while contributing what they can to a great cause. 

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Marriott

As the largest hotel chain in the world, Marriott has dedicated their resources to provide assistance in areas hit particularly hard by the virus, such as New York, Detroit, and New Orleans. Marriott has provided $10,000,000 in hotel stays to members of the American College of Emergency Physicians and the Emergency Nurses Association, as well as discounted rooms for any other first responders / healthcares that need to stay close by to a hospital, all throughout the U.S. Canada, the Caribbean, and Latin America. In addition to this, they’ve used their food and supplies storages to pack lunches and provide equipment such as masks, wipes, and other cleaning supplies to hospitals in need. It’s so great to see those with the resources available to make a difference, truly put their best foot forward in doing so. 

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Although we still have a way to go in this odd and confusing journey towards retaining some form of normalcy, it’s incredibly encouraging to see all the different ways that brands are supporting and building up their communities. It’s important for us to come together, support each other, and do everything we can to help those in need, especially in times like these when they need it most. 

 

How To Make Your Brand Stand Out On Instagram

Social distancing has caused the world to interact with social media in a different way. With 66% of social media users anticipating their use of platforms like Instagram to increase during the pandemic, media consumption is continuously rising. However, with people and brands posting increasing amounts of content to social media platforms, feeds are being oversaturated which has caused a negative impact on engagement. 

What brands need to do right now is create content that breaks through the clutter and captures the attention of their followers. This is a time to think outside of the box and get creative with the way we create, consume, and interact with content. With a captive audience, brands can use Instagram as a means to engage and deepen relationships with their community of brand fans and followers. Here are a few tips for brands who are looking to stand out on Instagram as we continue through this crisis: 

Be Real

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People are paying attention to how brands are reacting to this global pandemic — so much so that brands’ response will impact 65% of consumers’ future purchasing decisions. It’s important for brands to communicate to their followers with empathy, understanding, and support. For some brands, this means adjusting messaging and considering how the crisis affects your mission & goals. For others, this is business as usual. Regardless, this is a time for brands to give their messaging a more human touch to build trust and strengthen relationships with consumers. 

Be real, and people will take notice. 

Go Live

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80% of people would rather watch a live stream than read a blog, so creating more dynamic, interactive content is crucial. Post content that allows your brand’s fans to see how your brand and team are living at home. Host instagram live events to let your followers get to know the real & authentic you. This is also a great opportunity for your brand to use a live platform to share information, keep your followers in the loop, and share resources. Having more interactive content like this allows you to build and deepen trust between you and your followers in a more engaging way. 

 

Get Creative

 

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Don’t be afraid to get creative with your grid! Feel free to play with color to brighten up your brand fans’ feeds, or post something thought provoking. Now can be a great time to test new looks, new types of content, or post things you might not normally have and involve your virtual brand community. Posting content that is different or more interactive than what your brand might typically post will turn more heads and turn into increased engagement. 

Challenge Your Followers

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It’s important to keep your community active and involved virtually. Challenge your brand fans to hold a DIY fashion show in their favorite outfit from your brand, or suggest a new color or flavor they’d like to see. Creating exciting challenges for your followers is a direct invitation for them to become more involved with your brand. It also offers your brand an opportunity to understand more about your brand community and build relationships with your biggest fans. Giving your community a voice and encouraging them to share will make them feel closer to and more inclined to engage with your brand. 

Boost Earned Media

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98% of millennials are going to interact with a friend’s post over a brand post. By challenging your followers to get involved and create posts involving your brand, you’re amplifying user generated content and building increased trust in your brand. Essentially, your brand is creating a content factory that will boost your earned media value and offer tons of reposting potential. Gaining access to this kind of content will not only help you enhance your social media strategy and boost earned media, but give you insight into what your brand fans want to see more of.    

Stand Out 

Standing out on Instagram can be difficult, but these tips will make it easy for your brand to break through peoples’ feeds and build stronger relationships with your audience. Sharing content that is real, interactive, and involves your community results in a more engaged audience, deeper ties to your community, and tons of content to use in your social media strategy. 

 

5 Ways To Stay Connected With Your Community While Social Distancing

Social distancing doesn’t mean social disconnect. Now more than ever, humans are craving connection. Brands are now inspired to work harder and be more creative to ensure their community they are there for them during a time of isolation and uncertainty. At a time when being physically present isn’t possible, it’s important to keep communities active and involved virtually. We’re here to share a few creative ways to engage your community and stay connected:  

Check-in with your community

Communication is more important than ever before. No matter how big your brand is, it’s necessary to stay in touch with your community and understand how they are being affected. Taking steps to ensure that everyone is safe and feels supported instills greater confidence in your brand. Now is the time to show extra love to those who need it the most right now and nurture existing relationships with your fans, followers, ambassadors, and more.  

Whether it’s through an Instagram story or an email blast, keeping the lines of communication open and asking a simple question about someone’s day can give more information on the wellbeing of your community than you might have thought. Asking questions is one of the best ways to check-in, and creates a greater bond of trust with your brand. 

Maximize your time online 

The best way to ask questions in the time of social distancing is to reach out through online platforms. Social media is one of the most powerful marketing tools, allowing brands to share content that aligns with their ideals and values. With a majority of people receiving their information online, your digital presence is more important than ever. Maximizing your time spent online will build and strengthen relationships with the people in your community. 

For some brands, it can be difficult to move all communication to online platforms. However, there are many different ways to create discussions through your content. Take this time to ask questions and learn more about the people who love your brand and the reasons why they love it. This will help you push out the most relevant content to keep your audience engaged.  

Get creative with content

Social distancing has led to many people endlessly scrolling and consuming a large amount of content all at once. This can make it difficult to find content that is not only relevant, but interesting. You have to get creative with the way you engage your community. Look at the organic content being created around your brand to see what’s working and trending, so you can double down on and make your content strategy more effective. It’s a perfect time for you to experiment with eye-catching content and different ways to communicate your brand values. 

Use different online platforms to create content that inspires your community to get involved.  Some easy but interactive suggestions are to host fun online events or virtual hangouts. Maybe it’s finally time to hold a contest that will encourage customers to interact with you and with each other. Creating an environment where people can enjoy each other’s company is the key. Remember, your goal is to keep people active and involved with your brand.

Ask for feedback

What separates successful brands from the rest of the world? They can adapt to the current situation and the different needs of their community. Listening and changing is truly challenging, so it might require a lot of effort on the brand side. The best way is to start to learn more about what your community loves and hates. Do we share the same values? How can we modify our brand image to serve those needs?

Don’t be afraid to ask your community about the content and activations they want to see and experience more often. The simplest way to get this information is to ask them directly! Invite your community to complete quizzes or surveys across your online platforms. Not only you will be able to use that information to strategize more targeted and effective marketing campaigns, but you will also give your community a voice.

Stay present

Listen to your community. It is important to create an environment where your community feels welcome. Pay attention to the ways your community is interacting with you, and with each other. Ask yourself if there is anything else you can do to make their interaction with your brand better and more personal. 

With change, comes fear and uncertainty. But no matter what you decide to do to stay connected with your community, remember that building brand loyalty should be your priority. Don’t forget to love the customers who already love your brand!

What’s the Difference? Understanding Word of Mouth Marketing

john-schnobrich-2FPjlAyMQTA-unsplashIn a world where the digital connection is essential for growing businesses, word of mouth marketing is becoming more reliable than traditional advertising. But over the years, word of mouth marketing has evolved, and it now takes multiple forms — all of which are similar but apply different approaches to customer acquisition.

Word of mouth marketing is essential in today’s culture of viral content, as its ability to generate buzz far beyond its initial point of contact is immensely efficient. Below are some of the basics to navigating word of mouth marketing in 2020 and beyond so your brand can take advantage of reducing your digital media spend and increasing your lowest CAC channel — organic marketing.

Referral Marketing VS Affiliate Marketing

Referral marketing is a way for brands to incentivize passionate customers in exchange for spreading their love of your brand to their friends and family. This is often done by offering rewards or discounts in exchange for a referral to their friends and family. 

This form of marketing creates a win-win because it greatly benefits both the passionate customer as well as the brand — the customer provides the extra traffic, and the brand provides the customer with types of rewards that drive brand loyalty.

Affiliate marketing relies on third-party brand advocates (who may or may not be customers) — often publishers with a large reach or distribution — to drive customers to you. An affiliate marketer earns a percentage-based commission in accordance with the number of leads, sales, or transactions they are able to generate through link sharing and promotion. No leads or sales = no payment. This form of marketing works as an effective and reliable way to drive extra leads, sales, and data, beyond the brand’s initial marketing research.  

Unlike a customer referral — affiliates must indicate to their following or reader that they have a paid partnership with the brand.

Influencer Marketing VS Partner Marketing

Influencer marketing is similar to affiliate marketing in concept but very different in practice. While affiliate marketing practices use multiple volunteer affiliates with varying followings to generate as much attention as they can within their limited networks, influencer marketing consists of a brand seeking out a singular figurehead with a large social media following to promote the brand to their massive network, typically on a pay-per-post basis. 

It is important to remember that influencer marketing can be incredibly effective if your brand is able to identify relevant influencers that have built an authentic and truly engaged audience. A little advice, be on the lookout for influencer fraud, because it is an issue that must be accounted for.

Partner Marketing, similar to referrals, is all about capitalizing on communities of potential customers that you wouldn’t typically have access to, by utilizing an access point that they already have a relationship with. With Partner Marketing, that access point is another business, and they will be receiving access to your customer base as well. By partnering with another business to run cross-promotions, brands are able to build lasting and mutually beneficial relationships, while boosting their awareness between similar customer bases. 

Traditional advertising has become less and less reliable over the past decade. As consumers become more informed and skeptical of traditional advertising methods, it’s essential for brands to still build more authentic relationships with the consumers they are trying to reach. The strongest way to do that is utilizing word of mouth marketing to capitalize on the extreme interconnectivity that dominates our day to day life. 

Now more than ever, it is essential for brands to cultivate a community effectively, and utilize word of mouth marketing to increase trust and loyalty, while building an authentic relationship with customers.

 

Why Building Loyalty Should Be Your First Priority

At the hint of a burgeoning global health crisis, brands scrambled to share the same message: we’re in this together. The COVID-19 pandemic has fast-tracked a growing movement of community-based values in marketing. The interaction between brands and consumers is rapidly changing as a subsequent effect of social distancing. Today’s consumers are looking to brands to lead and respond in times of uncertainty, and are clinging tightly to the brands that have prioritized community-building efforts in their marketing strategy. 

That being said, brands have a greater impact on consumers than ever before. With a captive global audience, brands are competing to reach the people endlessly scrolling through the same content on their social feeds as they shelter in place. This is the time for brands to be empathetic, to rethink their approach to community, and ultimately to humanize their brand in a way that is unique to the customers they serve. It’s important for brands to establish this connection in a way that causes people to stop scrolling & interact. 

Humanization begins with a brand’s existing community — brand loyalty should be the first priority. Focus on nurturing relationships with the customers who already love the brand. Identify who those customers are and consider:

      • What do they want or need? 
      • What do they fear?
      • What role does the brand play in these customers’ lives? 

Once brands identify what their customers want and need, they can get creative with new ways to engage their customer base. Consider the role that this community of customers plays in regard to the brand’s mission and values, and how that can be implemented into an existing strategy. This can mean creating new ways for consumers to connect with the brand across social platforms, starting meaningful conversations within the community, or getting your community involved with charitable causes

Right now it’s important for brands to be present and take action. Consumers are looking closely at the way brands are reacting to our current health crisis, and brands’ response will have a significant effect on the way that consumers view and trust them, both now and in the future. This is a time for brands to invest in their community and cultivate stronger, lasting relationships with the consumers they care about the most. 

How The Value of Influencer Marketing Has Shifted

Since the initial introduction of the Influencer to the world of marketing, it has been viewed as one of the most efficient and inexpensive ways for brands to drive awareness and expand their audience. The concept of using trusted personas to sell to consumers who already have some level of affinity for those who are selling to them, made perfect sense and seemed to be an almost fool-proof strategy to gain brand awareness. But as Influencer Marketing has evolved, it has become more complex and more expensive. 

Below, you’ll find what you need to know about the current state of Influencer Marketing, as well as the best ways to get the most out of Influencer Marketing in 2020 and beyond

Oversaturation

One of the most prominent issues within Influencer Marketing is oversaturation. Being paid to post to social media has become the new “American dream”, so as the trend has emerged, everyone with an Instagram account has attempted to capitalize on it. 

There are far too many accounts attempting to gain influencer status. Many of these aspiring influencers may have the follower count to support their status, but lack the key trait that is essential to securing returns on investment — actual influence. The value of influencer marketing relies on the credibility and relationship that an influencer has with their audience. This has caused brands to shift their focus to micro and nano influencers, because consumers trust opinions and recommendations from sources they deem personal and authentic — real people

Effectiveness 

High follower count isn’t always congruent with high engagement. Far too many Instagram accounts have inflated follower numbers when compared to the actual reach they offer. These inflated follower counts could be considered “empty calories” with high percentages of the follower accounts being inactive, un-engaged, or simply being paid-for-bots. All of which are worthless to a brand that is trying to generate a thriving and authentic online community. 

Cybersecurity firm Cheq estimates that businesses lost 1.3 billion dollars to Influencer Fraud in 2019, so it’s imperative that when laying out your Influencer Marketing strategy, you’re able to identify the right influencers to get significant value out of your investment. Luckily, the industry is now recognizing the most efficient and cost-effective path forward, which is building more authentic online brand communities.

The Best Way To Work With Influencers

In the past there’s been no true industry standard for how much influencers get paid per post. Traditionally, companies have roughly estimated the value of an influencers reach based off of their follower count, which we now know can’t quite be trusted. 

While companies used to develop relationships directly with their individual influencers, the landscape of Influencer marketing has shifted to a more reliable model, where influencers are working with agencies to find the right brands for them, and vice versa. This new system is much more efficient and reliable for companies and brands as they’re making more manageable payouts to the influencers with a more certain guarantee of the reach and engagement they’ll be receiving in return. In turn, this has developed a new industry standard for how this form of advertisement should be conducted.

What will Influencer Marketing look like beyond 2020?

Despite the recent discoveries of a few glaring flaws, there is still value in to be found in Influencer Marketing. However, like all forms of advertisement, it should be conducted with focus, strategy, and efficiency. As consumers trust traditional advertising less and less, it’s important to look at how to solve the issues within influencer marketing, like effectiveness and fraud. The most authentic way to get people to talk about your brand is to invest in real people. 

Brands should look to build a community of real people who are authentic brand fans. By focusing less on follower count and more on the relationship they have with their community,  the increased ROI will follow naturally. 

Female Founded Brands Changing Culture & Building Community

What it means to be “Female Founded” in 2020

2019 was a very strong year for female founded brands, with a record amount of 17.2 billion dollars worth of venture capital being raised for female founded startups in the United States. Through sheer determination these female founded and empowering brands have been reshaping their industries and setting a new standard for mission-led and community focused business. 

Listed below are a few female founded brands setting a strong example for the next generation of female founders:

Billie

For far too long female shaving products have been marketed to show a singular end result, silky smooth skin from head to toe. Billie has recognized that body positivity means making your own choices, and has been a strong voice in the movement of normalization of female body hair. “Billie was built for all of womankind, celebrating our choice to be shaggy, smooth, or anything in between.” 

Through their #femalebodyhair campaign, Billie has created an online community of women that are proud to share pictures of themselves that push societal norms, and create a new standard of acceptance for women around the world. 

Rent The Runway

Sisterhood and sustainability are the heart of Rent The Runway’s closet sharing service. Their unique business model has given women around the world a new way to express themselves through their fashion, allowing for customization of packages filled with high quality brands, as well as the ability to swap out and return any items and try something new. 

Rent The Runway’s system encourages customers to step out of their comfort zone, and be able to try new trends that they may not be sure they want to buy. This new path that’s been paved for affordable high fashion has given a community of 9 million customers access to their dream closet, and provided them with the creative liberation that they desire. 

In the spirit of sisterhood, Rent The Runway launched a campus ambassador program to inspire young women to buy less and live more, and offer access to mentorship and career resources. 

As Alicianne Rand — VP of growth Marketing said during the NRF’s Big Show “Our ability to harness the power of our customers as growth drivers, I think that’s going to be the future of social as it intersects with commerce.”

LOLA

LOLA was born from a question: “What’s in our tampons?” and ever since the company’s inception they’ve worked tirelessly to provide women around the world with feminine hygiene and reproductive care products that are made from entirely natural ingredients. From their 100% organic cotton pads and tampons, to their essential oils and daily multivitamins made from the most naturally occurring ingredients, LOLA are striving to set a new standard for women’s health. 

LOLA works to create ongoing relationships with their customers, starting as early as their first periods and into their adult lives. The brand has cultivated a community that welcomes asking the tough and personal questions about women’s health, and conversations that drive product development. LOLA has become woman’s best friend. 

As of 2019 they also joined forces with Period Equity, the policy organization determined to abolish the Tampon Tax, and all the unjust financial tolls it takes on women around the world. 

Kendra Scott

Health, wellness, education, and empowerment are the pillars that Kendra Scott has founded it’s business upon. Ever since designing her first collection of jewelry in 2002, to then opening her first store in 2010, Kendra has held these values close to her heart and still does to this day. Kendra Scott as both a woman and as a business has been intensely dedicated to Philanthropy. 

Through the Kendra Cares Program, which provides children in Pediatric Hospitals the opportunity to design their own custom piece of Jewelry, Kendra Scott has served over 7,500 children and caretakers in over 30 hospitals across the country. In addition to this, Kendra Scott is looking to build a better future for young entrepreneurial women everywhere. 

In September 2019, they launched the Kendra Scott Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership Institute at The University of Texas at Austin. This program is dedicated to providing courses and workshops that supply a gender enlightened experience, support diversity, and prime the next generation of strong female entrepreneurs to be able to take on whatever hurdles may stand in their way. In addition to this, Kendra Scott has created a campus ambassador program titled Gems, which gives women at Universities all across the country the opportunity to gain valuable networking opportunities as well as tangible, career boosting experience in the fashion, retail, and marketing fields.

ThirdLove 

The antithesis of Victoria’s Secret, ThirdLove is disrupting the world of intimates and changing the dialogue around what a bra should be. With 78 different sizes, ThirdLove has become the most inclusive intimates brand on the market. 

The idea for the company was born when one woman, Heidi Zak, who was fed up with the fact that she owned 12 bras, and not a single one actually fit. Since then, ThirdLove has strived to set a new standard of bra, one that provides women with the comfort and confidence they deserve. 

This mission has resonated with the customers, and cultivated a fantastic community of women who care about rectifying this issue as well. ThirdLove has partnered with renowned organizations such as Soles4Souls, Good360, I Support The Girls, and St. Anthony’s to donate Bras to those who need them. To date, ThirdLove has donated over $20M in bras. 

Let’s listen to women. Let’s respect their intelligence. Let’s exceed their expectations. Let women define themselves.” — Heidi Zak, Co-Founder, ThirdLove 

A Deeper Connection Between Consumers and Brands: Why User Generated Content Should Be Part of Your Social Strategy

Trust has a significant and direct effect on consumers’ intention to buy. Social media, specifically Instagram, is becoming an increasingly strong Direct To Consumer (DTC) sales channel. With more consumers using social media than ever — 3.5 billion to be exact — it’s important to mobilize the marketing power it provides. 

Beyond the experience a consumer may encounter with a brand through different marketing touch points, social media is a powerful tool because it provides a voice that consumers deem more reputable and trustworthy than a banner ad or billboard. People follow their friends, family, and public figures like celebrities and influencers that all have an influence on what and why they buy. 

As consumers browse social media, the content created by people they follow, begins to inform their opinion and ultimately drives their decision to purchase. Ultimately, for consumers, it creates the sense that they have more control over their own purchasing journey because it feels relatable and personalized. 

Given this, brands have two options. They can choose to place paid-ads in their consumers’ newsfeeds, or they can enlist their brand fans to create content that reflects a positive consumer opinion of the brand or product. The choice is clear, given that user generated content (UGC) affects 90% of shoppers’ purchasing decisions. This type of content also tends to be the most engaging, compared to paid-ads. 

This is why brands are relying on UGC to support their word of mouth marketing strategies. People trust real people and real opinions. Especially given the rise of the Influencer (and with it Influencer fraud) over the past several years, social media has provided a platform for brands to heavily influence buying decisions using UGC.

With social media quickly becoming a strong DTC sales channel, more brands are deciding to  invest in UGC. As more content is created and engaged with, the brands gain more earned media — ultimately the most credible form of content for the brand because it is being created by highly satisfied customers. This content, when given increased distribution via social media, will drive higher conversions than any other paid channel. 

According to a study in AdAge, brands that replace their traditional paid media with earned media see their conversion jump from 1% to 5% or higher. Still, many brands are still paying rent to Facebook and Google to drive clicks when they should be focusing on content strategy. Consumer opinion can’t be bought — brands should be investing more in relationships with their brand advocates, as it is ultimately what drives earned media and in turn, deeper connections with the brand and lasting ROI.

UGC is valuable because it broadens the reach of a brand in the most organic way. Consumers want to hear from people with authentic perspectives, who have already experienced a product. 83% of people trust recommendations from someone they know. When a majority of consumers live on social media, it makes sense to engage active users of your product to create and share content about their experience with it — particularly when more than half of these posts are based on a positive experience with a brand or product. UGC humanizes a brand and allows them to create deeper, more emotional connections with consumers and should be used as a way to maintain human touch between brand and consumer. 

Ultimately, UGC humanizes a brand and allows them to forge stronger connections with consumers, and word of mouth plays an integral role in introducing those connections. Having a broad reach with multiple voices advocating for a brand allows them to cultivate stronger relationships with their customers. In an age where social media encourages and fosters consumer trust, it’s important for brands to activate word of mouth through their social media channels in a way that resonates more deeply with consumers. 

4 DTC Brand Communities We Love

Building a brand community is more than just a marketing strategy. Whether based in the physical world or digital, these communities foster authenticity, trust, and loyalty in a brand. 

Online communities are incredibly important when it comes to building brand awareness and driving word of mouth referrals. Each of these components have a role in developing and maintaining meaningful connections with the people who love your brand the most. 

Inviting the consumer into your brand experience removes any layer of separation and allows them to become an advocate for your brand. As the popularity of the brand community continues to rise, we’ve decided to share some of the brand communities we love: 

Sephora

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Beauty is personal, and this has a remarkable influence in beauty brands’ ability to cultivate such strong and active communities. There is so much to love about how Sephora built their Beauty Insider Community. Sephora created an online social platform that provides a unified brand experience for their biggest fans to connect with one another through their love for beauty, skincare, and cosmetics. 

Inside the community, Beauty Insiders post photos, reviews, and recommendations on products or looks they love. They can also chat with other Beauty Insiders to gain inspiration for the next look, product, or tip they want to try. It truly is a hub of knowledge and content that keeps Sephora’s brand community engaged — and it comes with perks. 

Through the community, Beauty Insiders have access to special events, live streams with famous beauty gurus, and exclusive discounts on products. Sephora’s combination of consumer connection, engagement, and rewards is what keeps Beauty Insiders so close to the brand. Sephora’s Beauty Insider Community is truly a culmination of everything that makes a brand community successful. 

Peloton

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Blending together fitness, socialization, and inspiring instructors, Peloton has become a cult brand. They’ve grown a community that promotes the kind of healthy competition that keeps users motivated and coming back for more, right in their own living rooms. 

Through gamification based on personal and social competition, Peloton uses both their equipment and class technology to create a fitness world that is entirely their own. Users hop on their bikes in their own home and connect with people exercising across the globe. Peloton has enlisted approachable and motivational coaches that implore their users to “show up”, motivate them, and consistently invite these users back in to be a part of a larger community. 

With a social integration through Facebook and elements like leaderboards, badges, and challenges, Peloton keeps their users active in their workout and with one another. Everyone is in it together. 

Aerie

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Aerie has always been a brand that represented women’s empowerment, inclusivity, and body positivity. With their #AerieREAL Ambassador community, the brand has taken these ideals a step further by curating a diverse group of women including students, mothers, working professionals, and more. We love #AerieREAL because it’s just that — real. No airbrush, no retouching. It challenges stereotypical standards of beauty, and inspires customers to be their true selves and comfortable in their own skin. 

Not only do their ambassadors live in Aerie products, but are inspired to promote change through Aerie’s mission of empowerment and positivity. Through body positive ad campaigns, inviting customers to tag #AerieREAL in their content, and changing the conversation about beauty standards, Aerie has built a strong community of advocates. 

Hims 

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As telemedicine grows in popularity, Hims is setting itself apart from the rest as one of the fastest growing men’s wellness brands in America. Hims has built an incredible community focused on “empathy first” and breaking the barriers of vulnerability and stigma that surround men’s health. They understand that the stigmas around healthcare, especially when it comes to topics like erectile dysfunction and hair loss, can be difficult conversations to have. That’s why Hims uses real people to drive awareness and create better dialogue around men’s health and wellness. 

Not only is Hims taking an authentic approach to their community by using normal, everyday people to talk about their products — they’re utilizing their community to educate a broader consumer audience. Hims’ blog, Instagram, and other online platforms serve to inform consumers more about men’s health and instills trust in Hims as a leader within the telemedicine space.   

Building Your Community.

What do each of these brands have in common? They invited their biggest fans — real people —  to be a part of their story. So, how can you cultivate your own brand community? Let your fans help you tell your story, engage them, and reward them. Brand communities evoke a more valuable brand experience for your consumers, and strengthens their relationship and loyalty to your brand.