I, like the majority of my female peer group, enjoy shopping. It’s just a fact, and something that is not likely to change in the coming years. That being the case, how then has the wiki world changed the process of how I view the experience. Has it influenced my inherent decisions on what clothing items I may gravitate towards based on how their brand platform is presented to me? I decided to take some time and actually explore my habits and also to see what, or why, I would be interested in one brand vs. another purely by means of how their websites and interaction with me went on twitter.
For the purpose of my social experiment I took a look at three different brands that frequently tweet and how they did or did not engage me. They are namely, Salomon, Icebreaker and Lululemon. The reason I chose these particular brands is partially because of familiarly with their clothing items and partially due to previous experiences I have had with their websites. Here is what I came up with when I attempted to engage. They all direct messaged me with a thank you note when I signed up to follow them. That is standard etiquette with most companies on Twitter and was uneventful from an engagement point of view. I decided to take the next step and started engaging their handles to see what happened. Out of the three, Lululemon did the best job. Why? They responded to me. When I tweeted about an event, they would either comment or follow up post event and ask how it went. It left me feeling good about the company. It also triggered me to go and visit their website. Icebreaker was not bad; they did acknowledge me when I initiated contact. Salomon performed the poorest. Salomon would post twitter questions which I would respond to and get zero acknowledgment. Their Flight Crew handle was no better. I retweeted them and I also made attempts to engage but received no response. This in turn has left a negative taste with me and resulted in no direct website visit. The experience left me uninterested in pursuing further involvement with the company despite my familiarity with the products.
I decided then to take a look at the websites as stand-alone entities and put aside the Twitter experience. Lululemon, and to an extent Icebreaker, again posted best scores on the experience because of two key components: transparency and engagement. Both sites were easy to navigate and had their own uniqueness to them that made me as a consumer think more personally about the brand. Lululemon has an excellent feedback tool. All products have direct customer feedback both positive and negative right there on the site, not hidden. You can read full conversations between a Lululemon Ambassador and a customer which from a consumer point of view, is extremely useful and influential in whether I would actually buy the product. The blog roll is current and the models on the site are actual business owners or key people in the community, not just random models hired to make the product look appealing. Icebreaker wasn’t bad. The blog roll was somewhat outdated and there was no product feedback but their approach to get you back to their website was unique with the Baacode. You buy a product and you go back to the site to see the sheep it actually came from. I thought that fit nicely into the transparency camp. Finally, Salomon. Salomon’s primary site is set up as a product role. There is no engagement on the main page whatsoever; however, if you go to their Salomon racing page, the entire site is dedicated to community. It has sponsored racer profiles, twitter feeds and Facebook pages which you can search and connect with the company. I found it to have more of a corporate flavor to it, and with that it lost some of the genuine connection that the other sites left me with.
When I take a step back from all the experiences, I can say that as a consumer, transparency and the “feeling” of being engaged from a grassroots standpoint resonated with me much more deeply than simply a product role and feature list. What the experiment demonstrated is that if a company in essence invites a consumer into their living room, the higher the likelihood of a return visit and the more positive result ending with more sales.