As the H&M Group prepares to launch the newest retailer in its arsenal, it’s enlisting the help of social media — namely Instagram — to build up buzz.
Arket, the Swedish company’s seventh brand, officially launches on August 25 with a brick-and-mortar store in London and an e-commerce site available to 18 countries in Europe. The open date is now just a few weeks away, but Arket has been raising consumer awareness since March, when it first began sharing images on its Instagram account, teasing the forthcoming venture. A dedicated Facebook account came shortly after, with initial posts hitting the page in June. Though the company just shared its first official marketing materials yesterday, it has already organically enticed more than 28,000 followers to Instagram and 5,000 followers to Facebook, the latter of which are already commenting en masse on the few dozen posts that have gone live.
These early photos and videos — including footage from factories in Sweden, China and Italy, as well as images from Arket’s perfumery in the South of France — have helped the brand formulate a definitive identity straight out of the gate. When it was announced earlier this year, Arket (which means “sheet of paper” in Swedish) was described by H&M as a “modern-day market, offering essential products for men, women, children and the home” — a descriptor its crisp, simple imagery reflects thus far.
An image from Arket’s first marketing campaign
A post shared by ARKET (@arketofficial) on
An early look at the first collection in June
“Instagram has provided social media marketers a highly engaging platform where fans engage and react to authenticity above all else,” said Andrew Higgins, director of marketing at visual marketing platform Pixlee. “Being able to showcase Arket in a fresh way, giving behind-the-scenes looks into the brand, and teasing out information has been an awesome way to build hype and awareness for the launch.”
While Arket is certainly not the first to use social media to drive awareness in the months leading to launch, its rapid following on Instagram points to the influence of parent brand H&M. For H&M, Arket fits into its larger strategy announced earlier this year to diversify its image beyond its traditional global fast-fashion brand. Following the success of its more experimental ventures, like COS and & Other Stories — both slightly upscale, boutique-style stores — the company is finding additional ways to fill niches that transcend mass-market looks.
On both Instagram and Facebook, Arket began sharing the first images of looks from its first line on Thursday, along with information for followers to join its mailing list in order to be granted access to shop the site two days before it opens, and also at a discount. As a result, Arket is not just driving early sales, but also building a large list of customers it can market to before even opening.
Apu Gupta, CEO and co-founder of marketing technology company Curalate, said in addition to building awareness around a new brand, Instagram is also becoming a tool to launch new products before they’re available in stores or online. An example of this is his client J.Crew, which used Instagram Stories to sell 50 pairs of new sunglasses ahead of the official product launch last August. The effort made fans privy to the release by providing them with a link that was exclusively shared on Instagram, with the larger goal of garnering fervor over the product and driving future sales.
“The influence and reach of Instagram and other social channels has prompted a shift in how brands see social, from pure brand awareness to channels that can also be used for commerce,” he said. “Smart brands will increasingly use social media to introduce their followers to products they never knew existed, as well as to tell a broader narrative about the brand.”