River Island on how its ‘Snapchat first’ campaign can make the store experience ‘fun again’

Having launched its first TV campaign two years ago, River Island is hoping a renewed focus on marketing and a new partnership with Snapchat can help it stand out amid growing high street competitiveness.

River Island has teamed up with Snapchat to launch bespoke branded filters that can only be accessed when entering one of its shops.

Customers are invited to visit one of more than 280 River Island stores, with the best subsequent use of the filters – which are designed to convey cultural messages that change with the fashion seasons – on social media resulting in potential prizes such as a £1,000 shopping spree.

There has been a wave of brands turning to Snapchat over recent months. However, River Island’s marketing director Josie Roscop says the key to success is to use Snapchat in a way that ties together both the social and physical worlds.

Roscop told Marketing Week: “The great thing about Snapchat is that it is embedded on your phone and makes great use of location-based technology, which is why we thought it would be perfect for a store-based activation.

“Yes [driving sales] is an element but we’re not expecting this to drive massive levels of footfall. It is more about getting our customers to engage with the brand and share their opinion in a way that merges both digital and offline. For some, this type of activity can make the store experience fun again.”

A renewed focus on marketing

Having launched its first ever TV campaign (below) in August 2014, River Island has noticeably shifted its attention towards above-the-line having previously focused primarily on outdoor campaigns.

And Roscop says the brand now has a “healthy mix” between above-the-line and digital spend, with the latter “perhaps” taking slight priority over the former.

“With digital we can see the impact very quickly in a way you cannot measure offline,” she added. “That is the biggest factor. But for us TV is all about sparking someone’s imagination, whereas pay-per-click on something like Google is a different part of the journey; it is about helping someone find something to buy.”

Perhaps unsurprising given its sector, Roscop says Instagram remains the most important channel for River Island but it is also keenly experimenting in other channels.

In February, it launched a VR Google Cardboard experience to tie into London Fashion Week and to promote its Jean-Pierre Braganza range. The fashion brand has also used Facebook Live to broadcast gigs through its partnership with pop star Rihanna.

VR isn’t ‘valuable’ yet

VR, however, is not yet an “invaluable” channel, according to Roscop. “Consumers do not see the added value of VR yet, it is just seen as a fun experience,” she explained. The challenge for us and other brands is to really make it valuable for customers. We haven’t done that yet.”

With regard to Brexit, meanwhile, Roscop clearly is not as concerned as her high street rivals such as Marks & Spencer and Next.

She concluded: “Things are just as volatile and competitive as they have always been. Brand loyalty doesn’t have the power it used to have, sure, but that just means we have to make sure we have got the right product at the right price and time, and delivered in the right way.

“With so many new channels emerging and challenges to overcome, I think right now [post-Brexit] is the most exciting time to be a marketer.”

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