September 28, 2006

Social Media and Anthropologie

Last night, I spent a lot of time talking about Anthropologie, discussing their initial steps into multichannel marketing. Their multichannel journey, as described in DMNews, is really about the management at the company deciding to speak to Anthropologie customers and prospects with one voice.

While Anthropologie management begins this journey, another revolution is happening all around them. This version of multichannel marketing is owned by the customer. The customer is using "her channel", to market the company on behalf of Anthropologie.

Check out the blog "Craving Anthropologie". This young lady, assuming she is who she represents herself to be, has taken it upon herself to glorify all that is Anthropologie. More than seventeen thousand visitors have followed her discussion of the company over the past year. Seventeen thousand! How many shoppers have been influenced by what this person chooses to write, by this person's interpretation of the Anthropologie "brand"?

This blogger isn't the only one evangelizing Anthropologie. Popular bloggers write about Anthropologie. Bloggers admire the design of Anthropologie products. Some people's comments about Anthropologie merchandise start a series of comments from other fans. This blogger does a better job of marketing Anthropologie than an Anthropologie email campaign. Here's another one --- do you think the branding experts at Anthropologie ever conceived this point of view?

It doesn't end. Other bloggers express themselves here, here and here. And when you read these posts from avid Anthropologie shoppers, how many times do you hear them say, "Boy, I wish Anthropologie did a better job of aligning their channels, because if they were a true multichannel retailer, I'd really increase my spend with their brand!"

Not surprisingly, these shoppers were obsessed with the merchandise Anthropologie sells. And as much as it pains me to say this, these shoppers were obsessed with what Anthropologie represents --- they were obsessed with "the brand". There, I said it! These shoppers were so enthralled by Anthropologie that they decided to invent their own marketing departments, evangelizing the brand on behalf of Anthropologie, for free.

Executives have a responsibility to truly understand their customers. The information is freely available to executives. Try typing the name of your brand into Google Blogsearch. You will immediately learn how customers perceive your business, positive or negative. You will immediately learn the merchandise they think is hot. Your customers are networking and talking. They are shaping the direction of your business, regardless of your multichannel efforts, regardless of the internal politics about how to organize around channels, regardless of what pundits think you should do!!