Fashion Retail & Social Media: A User Engagement Analysis

This article is a short summary of a capstone research project, “Analysis of the factors affecting engagement rate in the fashion industry”, prepared by Maniza Jalal, a Master of Global Business student at the SP Jain School of Global Management. For detailed insights, statistics and development of the project findings, she can be contacted at

Social media has become an integral part of everyone’s life. One of the most common things that’s shared and viewed on social media platforms today is apparel. It isn’t uncommon for a garment you double-tapped on Instagram to pop-up as an ad on Facebook a few minutes later. Despite increasing technological advancements and constant involvement by the fashion retail domain, data from Triberr suggests that the engagement rates of popular fashion brands on social media are still below 1%.

Marketing via social media comes with its own set of problems. My research suggests that a large majority of the population takes advice from reviews online before purchasing any product. This gives companies a way to improve their brand image online and increase interaction with their customers. Research data shows that about 63% of customers are more likely to purchase a product if an influencer has recommended the product on their social media. It is very evident that the future lies in digital marketing. However, digital marketing is far from being in its best form. Finding out what consumers need is more important than just blindly spending on advertising.

What should fashion retail companies be doing?

According to my research, there definitely is a strong correlation between a brand displaying a range of products and the degree to which their engagement rate increases. The more diverse range of products a brand displays on their social media pages, higher are the chances that customers visit those pages frequently. A brand can encourage customers’ interaction with their content by staying relevant and up-to-date with the latest market trends as well as showcasing how to style a single product in different ways.

Interviews of experts from this industry indicate that new customers rely on reviews by past buyers before purchasing any product. The trustworthiness of a brand increases when customers read what other buyers had to say about the product. This tendency makes customers visit brands that offer reviews and ratings from other buyers, increasing their engagement rate. Additionally, customers are becoming conscious of environmental and social factors such as carbon footprint and charity. They love to see a brand taking such initiatives and are more inclined to opt for such brands. Eco-friendly clothing and reducing wastage are things customers want to be a part of. Brands could, therefore, do well to have a plan around these for the future.

My survey suggests that videos leave a longer-lasting impression on people’s minds than still images. Hence, if a brand displays product videos on their page along with images, customers are more likely to be interested in the page and would interact better with the brand, helping them boost their engagement rate. However, brands must keep in mind that they follow a standard theme and aesthetic across all their content.

What should fashion retail companies not be doing?

Brands must advertise products using models that their target audience can relate to. Modelling apparel on American celebrities, when the customers are mainly Asian, will not increase engagement. It is important for companies to make their customers feel comfortable and confident enough to buy a product just by seeing the image of a product.

Another important point to note is that however important brand advertising may be, constantly seeing multiple ads pop up from the same brand can make customers lose interest in the brand. Advertisements are important and necessary, but they should not be overpowering.

About the Author: Maniza Jalal (MGB’18)

Maniza Jalal (MGB'18)

With an undergraduate degree in Computer Engineering from BITS Pilani, Maniza Jalal went on to pursue a Master of Global Business (MGB) degree in E-Business from SP Jain School of Global Management. She has led a couple of start-ups in the social media marketing business and interned at leading engineering, FMCG and technology companies while completing her degree. Creative and ingenious at work, she is always ready to hear from her peers and customers towards accomplishing team goals. Her graphic design certification from California Institute of Arts has sharpened her skills in creating branding and marketing material.