Social Data Reveals Fast Fashion Aces Brand Affinity

Fashion culture is shifting, and branding affinity changes are swift and acute.

Brand Affinity in Fast Fashion Industry
Like many things in our culture, fashion has forged ahead over the past decade. Retailers can now condense clothing production into a six-to-eight week period, as opposed to a two-season shopping calendar, which greatly enhances their ability to keep up with changing fashion trends and preserve low prices. Forget the antiquated frustrations of waiting for next season; in fast fashion (FF), there are new styles on the racks every time you go to the mall.
Forever 21 is a trailblazer in the FF movement, giving retailers that rely on the “it” factor of their logo a run for their money, simply because they are running faster. On the other hand, American Eagle Outfitters, who is known to sell moderately expensive, preppy clothing whose styles are fairly consistent from season to season, is operating on the former retail model. Prior to fast fashion, success in teen retail was driven by excluding those who could not afford the premium price of recognized logos.

Using ForSight™’s social media analysis and Affinities tool, we analyzed 267,820 Tweets in May surrounding both retailers to uncover how much conversation about price and newness of fashion trends drives consumers’ opinions about the brand.
There is some gender and regional demographic variance between the online engaged audiences of the retailers. 61% of people with an identifiable gender discussing American Eagle were female compared to Forever 21’s 84%. The highest posts per capita about Forever 21 were in New York, California, and Texas respectively, while American Eagle’s were located in Vermont, South Dakota, and New Mexico.
Although Forever 21 claimed 90% of the share of voice, American Eagle’s conversation was only 29% negative, while Forever 21’s was 39% negative. The source of negativity around American Eagle was derived mainly from high prices, whereas that around Forever 21 was largely reacting to the store’s excessive size and disorganization.
Two words which appeared constantly in social conversation about Forever 21’s brand: “new” and “cheap.”
Fast Fashion topic wheel on Brand Affinities
Forever 21 keeps its customers spending money by constantly replenishing their inventory, focusing on quantity (of inventory) instead of quality (of material and lasting fashionability).

Those discussing Forever 21 have similar brand affinities for fashion and fashion magazines as those discussing American Eagle, but Twitter authors talking about American Eagle are 1000X more interested in vintage shopping than are Forever 21 authors. American Eagle consumers also like Michael Kors, another brand that relies on its name and logo, 412X more than the rest of Twitter.
Top Fast Fashion Affinities to Brand
While Forever 21’s conversation centers around prices, options, and generally wanting everything in the store, American Eagle conversation is focused on particular products. The quality of American Eagle jeans is a recurring topic. Nonetheless, a lot of the positive conversation is surrounding sales. Although American Eagle may not be able to continue relying on its logo alone for success, it can promote its reliable quality with discounts that close the gap to their fast fashion rivals.
Fast Fashion Brand Affinities Word Clouds
Comparing fast fashion to logo driven fashion uncovers the characteristic differences of the consumers behind the conversation. The success of fast fashion brands such as Forever21 can be attributed to their consumers’ attraction to newness and affordability. ForSight analytics studying affinities and demographics of consumers of Forever21 and American Eagle help these retailers understand the source of positive and negative sentiments about their brands.
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