White House Black Market Turns Customers Into Stylists With #WearWhatWorks

Whether they’re snapping photos of their meals, friends, or even their outfits, today’s shoppers are highly engaged with Instagram and are using the social network to express their personal styles.

White House Black Market, the women’s fashion retailer, recognizes that its target customers are innately social people. Moreover, the retailer’s marketing and social team has capitalized on the fact that consumers love posting photos of themselves wearing their favorite outfits.

“Ever since we launched our Facebook page in 2009, we noticed that our customers loved posting pictures of themselves in White House Black Market,” said Jessica Wells, VP of Social Marketing at White House Black Market, in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “In fact, we like to say our customers were social even before social media really existed.”


To better examine these social behaviors and collect more user-generated content, White House Black Market has implemented a series of Instagram-focused hash tag campaigns.

For example, the #WearWhatWorks campaign was designed to  showcase the lifestyle of White House Black Market shoppers, according to Wells. “Whether she’s at a wedding, going on a date with her husband or even hanging out with her girlfriends, our assortment is designed to fit her lifestyle and she is taking pictures of how she wears those items at various points of her day.”

#WearWhatWorks went live in August with a television commercial promoting the hash tag. Wells explained that the hash tag was created to have “a bunch of different meanings. It can mean wear what works for your lifestyle, or what you wear to work, or what makes you feel beautiful. We wanted to keep it open to customers’ interpretation.”

All campaign photos are managed and promoted through Olapic, a visual commerce platform that enables retailers to curate, publish and makes customer photos and videos shoppable on their e-Commerce sites. White House Black Market is able to access all photos that are submitted with designated hash tags, curate and approve them in a central platform. Photos then are published in a digital gallery, providing consumers with real-time access to user-generated content.

Because people who were unfamiliar with the White House Black Market brand also would see the advertisement, the retailer incorporated a sweepstakes component to help drive additional engagement. Consumers participating in the sweepstakes, which ran through Sept. 30, 2013, were entered to win a $2,500 gift card.

At the end of the sweepstakes, White House Black Market collected more than 75,000 entries through the #WearWhatWorks landing page. The sweepstakes “was a win-win for us,” Wells said. “A customer may not know our brand, so when she got to our web site she was able to see the beautiful images of our customers and see how other people were wearing our products, which gives depth to the brand.”

Taking A Holistic Approach To Marketing Campaigns

With the bulk of the #WearWhatWorks campaign promotion being implemented in September, Wells noted that as of October, White House Black Market received 12,000 photo submissions. “We were blown away by that,” she said. The campaign results “show she, our customer, wanted to take the initiative and show us how she wears White House Black Market.”

The #WearWhatWorks campaign also was White House Black Market’s first large, holistic campaign, Wells explained, making it a landmark achievement for the retailer. “All hands were on deck across our organization and we were very clear about the vision for this campaign,” Wells said. Overall, “user engagement has far exceeded our expectations.”

Positive results generated from the #WearWhatWorks campaign have encouraged White House Black Market to invest more in consumer-driven social campaign. For example, to celebrate the opening of its first international boutique in Toronto, Canada, the retailer tapped the hash tag #FeelBeautiful in a partnership with the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.

As part of the #FeelBeautiful campaign, one dollar was donated to the Children’s Miracle Network for every tweet, Facebook update or Instagram post created touting the hash tag. The campaign extended into the week following the opening of the Toronto location.

#FeelBeautiful was “a great way to engage our customer the moment she walked into the store,” Wells noted. “The charity component then shows she gets to support a good cause [by participating].”

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