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 interest.
Arket, the Swedish company’s seventh brand, 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 showing up in June. The company published its first official marketing materials yesterday, but it already has more than 28,000 followers on Instagram and 5,000 followers on Facebook.
These 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 show what it’s all about. When it was announced earlier this year, Arket (“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” — as reflected in its simple imagery.
An image from Arket’s first marketing campaign
First collection preview. Royal Geographical Society, 1 Kensington Gore, London. 2 June 2017. #ARKET
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An early look at the first collection in June
While Arket is 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 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. That’s helping drive sales but also build a list list of customers it can market to before it opens.
Apu Gupta, CEO and co-founder of marketing technology company Curalate, said in addition to getting the word out about a new brand, Instagram is also becoming a way to launch new products before they’re available in stores or online. An example 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 provided a link that was exclusively shared on Instagram to drive product 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.”