Bonobos Drives User-Generated Content With #Pantsformation Contest

Forward-thinking retailers are immersed in social media to drive engagement and communication among target consumers. Bonobos, a notable leader in optimizing social’s more interactive features to initiate conversations with shoppers, emphasizes the use of contests that encourage social feedback on Bonobos fashions. As a result, the men’s apparel retailer has established itself as a relatable brand and in turn, increased word-of-mouth and garnered long-term loyalty from consumers.

In August 2012, Bonobos launched its latest social media contest: #Pantsformation. The sweepstakes encourages consumers to photograph themselves then upload those images onto Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, along with the hash tag #Pantsformation. Contestants also must provide a brief explanation of “why they should be ‘pantsformed’ by Bonobos,” David Fudge, Director of Consumer Engagement and Innovation for Bonobos, told Retail TouchPoints.

Two weeks following the Oct. 5, 2012 contest deadline for uploading images, entrants must promote the contest on their social media accounts and encourage their families and friends to vote for their photos. This strategy not only increases awareness of the brand, but also allows consumers to control the result of the campaign and “feel they have a voice in determining who wins,” Fudge explained. The grand-prize winner will receive a $1,500 credit to the Bonobos e-Commerce site and be flown to New York City to star in an upcoming Bonobos marketing campaign. The top 50 entrants with the most votes each will receive a $50 store credit to the online store. 

While structuring the program, “we knew that allowing our shoppers to star in a Bonobos campaign would be the ultimate prize,” Fudge explained. “Offering two prize tiers, however, makes the contest more approachable and the prizes more attainable, leading to an increase in submissions.”


Bonobos rolled out the campaign through Photo Contest 3, a solution designed by Offerpop, a provider offering SaaS platforms for creating social campaigns such as turnkey contests. By tapping into this on-demand application, Bonobos can release contests on a more frequent basis, and track submissions and votes across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter in a more integrated way.

While social marketers use numerous different metrics for determining campaign and contest success, Bonobos hones in on two key areas: engagement and awareness. Straying from hard metrics such as increased traffic or purchases allows the retailer to focus on communicating with consumers on a more personable level, rather than pushing out marketing-focused messages, Fudge explained. “We never let referral traffic, revenue or other hard numbers lead our social campaigns,” he said. “Those results will follow if social engagement and awareness is high. The #Pantsformation contest structure allows our target audience to promote themselves wearing Bonobos products then encourage votes for their photos, which really leverages the power of social networks to spread the word about our brand.”

Driving Purchases Among Men Who Don’t Like To Shop

Encouraging user-generated content through contests, giveaways and challenges is key to connecting shoppers with the Bonobos brand, Fudge reported. With its target audience of young men, most of whom “don’t really like to shop or talk about fashion,” the Bonobos marketing team consistently strives to fine-tune its e-Commerce experience with new and effortless ways for men to buy clothing. In doing so, the retailer’s constant goal is to “convey the core DNA of the brand, which is to create an easy, more enjoyable shopping experience with amazing customer service, all based on quick access to trendy, better-fitting men’s apparel,” Fudge added.

To further differentiate the brand from its competitors and engage target customers, Bonobos markets and positions itself as a lifestyle brand, which makes social media and engagement “pivotal to helping us communicate with customers in a very humanized way,” Fudge reported. “We know our consumers are aware of and often deterred by traditional sales tactics, so we constantly try to build an authentic voice that really reinforces our mission in a way that’s fun and relatable for men.”

Moreover, to establish the retailer’s market positioning even further, Bonobos has collaborated with Offerpop on a multitude of campaigns, including a Spring 2012 initiative that allowed consumers to vote for the newest product to be released by Bonobos, according to Fudge. By publishing three different pants designs on Facebook, and allowing fans to vote for their favorites, Bonobos received a clear and concise voice of the customer, allowing the retailer to better understand how specific products might sell.

As the #Pantsformation campaign gains momentum, Bonobos is developing new strategies to increase the amount of user-generated content created and shared across social networks, Fudge reported, some of which will be implemented this holiday season.

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