Just the other day, I was walking through the Eaton Center as just a window shopper when I noticed the bright and colorful exterior of Ardene’s. The huge SALE signs and the many “3 for $15” signs caught my attention although I had no intention of spending money. Once inside, I looked at the various styles of shoes, clothing, socks and accessories. Even though I hadn’t planned on it, I ended up spending money on a couple pair of jeans. Once I left, I obviously spread the word about their new products and sales to my friends and family. And just like that, I became another one of Ardene’s prized customer. This article will discuss Ardene’s successes over the years and the marketing strategies they used to stay successful in the competitive world of retail.
What is Ardene
For those of you not so familiar to the world of teen fashion and shopping, Ardene is a go to source for affordable yet stylish accessories, foot wear and clothing (About Ardene, 2016). Ardene launched itself in North America in 1982 targeting teenagers and young adults and has now expanded with over 400 sites all over the United States and Canada (Ardene Retail, 2016). As stated on their LinkedIn profile, Ardene’s moto is as follows:
A-ffordable fashion that’s fun and full of variety!
R-etail leaders with over 400 stores across North America
D-edicated to being socially responsible
E-xceptional customer service
N-ew trends and concepts
Ardene does a decent job living up to its moto. It provides a wide variety of affordable fashion including piercings, jewelry, all variety of clothing (tops, skirts, socks, dresses) and footwear (summer sandals, high heels, dress/winter/rain boots). Ardene even provide numerous nailpolish, watches, phone covers and even hats and caps. It could be said that if a girl walks into Ardene, they’ll walk out with everything they could possibly need for any outing.
Figure 1: Ardene’s store (Ardene, 2016)
The continuing success of Ardene’s can be owed not only to their diverse and unique products and services and their cheap and affordable prices but to their excellent marketing strategies. Let’s take a look at what they’re doing right and where they can improve. After extensively studying Ardene’s online presence, here is my top 5 suggestions:
1. Spread the word via Social Media
In the generation we live in today, it is vital for all leading retail chains to have a presence on social media. Adrene has a presence with about 279K followers on Facebook (Ardene Product/Service, 2016), 116K followers on Instagram (Ardene, Instagram, 2016) and about 20 pins on Pintrest (Ardene, Pintrest, 2016).
2. Be media specific, use what works best for you
Referring back to #1, it seems as if Pintrest isn’t a good way to promote Ardene with a lacking number of pins. Compared to other similar franchise such a H&M who have 14.4M followers on Instagram (H&M Instagram, 2016) and 27.3M followers on Facebook (H&M Facebook, 2016), Ardene is lacking by about 100 times the followers on other social media sites as well. Taking into account that Ardene only caters to teenage girls and young women, Facebook seems to be the most effective method of them communicating to their consumers (with the most number of followers). But when looking at the feedback Ardene receives on their posts, it appears as if they get more likes on Instagram than on Facebook. Instagram is a method of sharing every using pictures and hashtags.
For a better understanding of Ardene’s performance on social media, the following key performance indicator table was compiled based on average per day per post. The KPI shows very low performance of Ardene on social media as compared to competitors such as H&M when comparing the number of followers and likes on Instagram. Both companies have a similar presence on Facebook, although H&M has a much high number of followers.
Table 1: Key performance indicator of Ardene’s performance on social media (Ardene Product/Service, 2016) (Ardene, Instagram, 2016)
||# of likes
||# of shares
||# of followers
||# of hashtags
Table 2: Key performance indicator of H&M’s performance on social media (H&M Facebook, 2016) (H&M Instagram, 2016)
||# of likes
||# of shares
||# of followers
||# of hashtags
From the key performance indicator in Table 1, it makes sense that for a company like Ardene, Instagram is the best social media medium to promote their products. When they post about new arrivals or sales, their customers will be able to see it visually while skimming their Instagram accounts. If they like it, they’ll give a heart, otherwise, they’ll scroll to the next image. It is simple and effective. It gets the products across with minimal time and effort. Facebook is a less effective method of promoting sales, but is a good method of sharing the company’s name since there is a much higher number of followers to the page. Ardene should continue their efforts on Instagram, but also try to increase their followers and feedback on Facebook.
One effective method for Ardene to do this would be to use giveaways or prizes for the first 5 or 10 comments or shares on their Facebook posts. This would encourage more followers to actively like and share, which would lead to promoting the company not just within the local community but also internationally to tourists and newcomers. If daily promotions and contests are too much, having them weekly is a good start. Figure 3 gives a nice outline for a contest post (Ayres, n.d.). Ardene could have their latest fashion wear or accessory in a picture with the value of the prize, name of the prize, conditions to win and when the winner will be selected. This will bring a lot of attention to their page and help promote themselves.
Figure 2: Sample contest post for Facebook or Instagram (Ayres, n.d.)
3. Timing is everything, but keep a good frequency for postings
Being a franchise like Ardene, it is important that they promote their newest and latest trends to customers at all times. This means, they don’t want to get unfollowed by overwhelming the followers. Make relevant posts that will be engaging and provide information that are not found elsewhere. Give followers a reason to follow, not get annoyed and unsubscribe, which can lead to the company losing their credentials online. Posting about special deals and products which wouldn’t be available to customers anywhere else is a good method to keep the online customers engaged.
Timing for these posts are essential too. An Instagram or Facebook post is more likely to receive a view during peak hours. For the target audience being teenagers and young adults who are looking to save money and buy affordable clothes, it can be assumed that they are most likely to travel by public transport. What do teenagers and young adults do on public transport? They are usually bored and surf the web, mindlessly scrolling through pages and pages of news feed. With that being said, the perfect time to post an update or new content for Ardene would be around rush hour when all the customers are bored and spending time on social media. Posts updated during non-peak hours are more likely to be overlooked since hundreds of new items are constantly being uploaded online at any given moment. Weekends are another great time to post when people are spending vast amounts of time on their phones or laptops, as shown by the statistics in Figure 3 (Harris, 2014). With 75 million posts per day, it is crucial that the posts be uploaded at a time when it doesn’t get buried and forgotten among cyberspace (Smith, 2016).
Figure 5: Weekly Instagram usage statistics per 1K followers (Harris, 2014).
4. Don’t just be Active but be Reactive
Communication is a critical part of any social media network. The users need to get timely feedback from the admin to know that their questions were important and that the user is valuable to the page. Ardene does a good job of responding on time to comments on Facebook by followers, as shown by the image below. A customer had a question and an admin was able to address the issue within 24 hours.
Figure 5: Ardene admin responds to question by potential customer (Ardene Product/Service, 2016)
The only concern I’d have as a potential shopper is that I had to wait a whole day for a response. To step up their game, Ardene admins may want to consider getting back to their online customers within the regular scheduled workday.
5. Have the option to shop online
Many big franchise presently have the option for online shopping. Ardene is among them. Online shopping has many benefits for the merchant. For starters, it increases revenue since customers can order what they want from the comfort of their own homes. It also increases the number of customers since people who otherwise wouldn’t have access to a large mall will no longer be limited from the shopping experience. Lastly, customers overseas are also able to order their products from Ardene, which will further increase their revenue.
6. Ask customers to provide their email at the cashier
Having an email list of all the customers will be an easy way to remind customers to keep checking up on the products for the latest deals. Often, I’ve done this myself where I will need a medium for procrastinating and read the junk promo emails from stores at which I’ve signed up. And then I’ll end up on their social media pages, skimming through their latest deals. This will further encourage me to stop by their store in the near future and also share any potential eye catching deals with my family and friends. It is an effective method and should be taken advantage of.
Ardene is an excellent place to go for the latest and affordable fashion for teenagers and young adults. Their spectacular deals keep customers coming back for more season after season. Applying these 6 simple tips to their current online marketing strategy can help them even more with advertising, popularity and revenue.
About Ardene. (2016). Retrieved May 31, 2016, from Ardene: http://www.ardene.com/en/customer-service/contact-us
Ardene. (2016). Retrieved from Historic Chatham: http://downtownchatham.com/member/ardene/
Ardene Product/Service. (2016, June 1). Retrieved June 1, 2016, from Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Ardene/info/?tab=page_info
Ardene Retail. (2016). Retrieved June 1, 2016, from Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company/243454?trk=tyah&trkInfo=clickedVertical%3Acompany%2CclickedEntityId%3A243454%2Cidx%3A2-1-4%2CtarId%3A1464757549215%2Ctas%3Aardene
Ardene, instagram. (2016, June 2). Retrieved June 2, 2016, from Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ardene/
Ardene, Pintrest. (2016). Retrieved June 2, 2016, from Pintrest: https://www.pinterest.com/ardene/?etslf=5517&eq=ardene
Ayres, S. (n.d.). Here’s the Easiest Way to Run a Facebook Timeline Contest for FREE. Retrieved June 2, 2016, from Post Planner: https://www.postplanner.com/easiest-way-to-run-facebook-timeline-contest-for-free/
H&M facebook. (2016, June 2). Retrieved June 2, 2016, from Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/hmcanadahm/?brand_redir=21415640912
H&M instagram. (2016, June 2). Retrieved June 2, 2016, from Instaram: https://www.instagram.com/hm/
Harris, S. (2014). 8 Surprising New Instagram Statistics to Get the Most out of the Picture Social Network. Retrieved from Buffer Social: https://blog.bufferapp.com/instagram-stats-instagram-tips
Smith, C. (2016, June 1). By the numbers: +170 Interesting Instagram Statistics. Retrieved June 2, 2016, from DMR Stats and Gadgets: http://expandedramblings.com/index.php/important-instagram-stats/