Rules of Engagement
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Cotton’s 24-Hour Runway Show and Push-Pull 2.0

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The retail universe has long-since expanded beyond the confines of physical floor space and time. Online retail outlets have made shopping a 24-hour option for brands with or without brick-and-mortar complements. Brand marketing, too, is now a brave new digital world in which presence and consumer engagement are essential cogs in the machine. To succeed, there must be a synchronicity of disparate channels that encompass traditional advertising, digital advertising, social media and most importantly, the often-unpredictable consumer.

Hyper-dimensional marketing, or Push-Pull 2.0, plucks multiple messaging strings in the hopes of striking a chord with consumers. In traditional push-and-pull strategy, push referred to offering incentives to the supply chain, and consumer marketing was the pull. Today, Facebook, Twitter and the like, have shifted the strategic emphasis squarely on the consumer; push is now defined as brand outreach to the consumer, and pull is their outreach to the brand. The objective is to enthusiastically engage the co

nsumer in the brand experience; to have them participate, promote, and eventually purchase.

Cotton Incorporated, the research and promotion company for cotton, was founded on a traditional push-and-pull strategy. In March, the company upgraded to the 2.0 version with Cotton’s 24 Hour Runway Show, which featured one cotton look a minute for a total of 1,440 looks.

Promoting the cotton looks from a variety of retailers created the “push,” while retail incentives during and after the show created the “pull.”

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More than 70 retailers were represented on the runway at this year’s show, marking a wide and varied territory in terms of price point and channel—from AG Adriano Goldschmied to Tommy Hilfiger, and from Belk to Old Navy. Almost half of consumers purchase most of their clothing at mass merchants and chain stores (49%), followed by department (14%) and specialty (13%) stores, according to the Cotton Incorporated Lifestyle Monitor™ survey. And among female fashionistas, identified as those who say they stay on the cutting edge of fashion, more than a fifth (21%) shop for most of their clothing at specialty stores, followed by chain (19%), mass (18%), and department (15%) stores.

Ultimately, though, the 1,440 looks provided a unique way to showcase cotton’s versatility beyond t-shirts and denim jeans.

“Cotton\’s 24 Hour Runway Show proved that cotton, more than any other fiber, can offer the versatility to suit every lifestyle, at any budget at any time of day,” says Ric Hendee, SVP, Consumer Marketing, Cotton Incorporated. “And this year’s show tied even more closely to retail, so consumers watching at home could not only be inspired by what came down the runway, but they could also easily shop the retailers we featured.”

Connecting directly to retail also created a kind of closed-loop experience for consumers. The show’s live stream gave consumers watching at home easy access to their favorite retailers online—and a discount, too. More than 30 retailers participated in a “24% off” discount program for the duration of the show, online or in-store. On average, according to Monitor™ data, consumers spend about 109 minutes shopping online and roughly 96 minutes shopping in-store. But 71% also simply browse for apparel online, spending about 105 minutes doing so each month, according to the Monitor. Among female fashionistas, 84% say they also browse for apparel online, spending about 144 minutes (2 hours and 24 minutes) doing so each month. Those watching the show could browse online —and be a part of the social conversation on Twitter, too, through a special hash tag, #cotton24hours.

“I think brands and retailers are recognizing that social media needs to be part of a more holistic approach,” says Kim Kitchings, Vice President, Corporate Strategy & Program Metrics, Cotton Incorporated. “Our research shows it’s not necessarily a direct purchase influencer, but an important piece of the increasingly complex relationship between retailers and consumers.”

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A recent PricewaterhouseCoopers report affirms that; 49% of survey participants said they use social media every day, but only 12% are using social platforms to shop. Most (59%) use it to find, follow, and give feedback to retailers. Cotton’s 24-Hour Runway Show provided the perfect forum to do just that, enabling consumers to follow Cotton’s own social media platforms as well as those of the retailers involved, and to be a part of the live conversation online.

For those watching in Miami, some retailers offered in-store discounts during the show. And post-show, Cotton’s Shop the Runway Contest provided an added incentive for consumers to vote on their favorite looks, thereby extending the interactive experience.

The runway itself was a moving, changing window display, captivating consumers with cotton fashion in a non-traditional retail environment. “We’re visual consumers,” says Kitchings. “Typically, most consumers are inspired by what they already own and like, but 43% of consumers look to store displays or window shopping, and the runway show was a unique take on just that.”

But 30% of consumers also admit to finding wardrobe inspiration online, according to Monitor data, which is why a fashion blogger with a strong following and a unique style can entice consumers to spend. Additionally, a 42% of female fashionistas ages 18-34 say they draw clothing inspiration from fashion magazines, celebrities (30%), and TV shows (30%). Cotton Incorporated partnered with six Fashion Influencers from across the country to scout their respective regions for the best in cotton style, provide fashion tips and insight, and bring a local flavor to the show.

All of this served to bring The Fabric of Our Lives® campaign, Cotton Incorporated’s iconic marketing campaign, to life in a new way for consumers to show that cotton, quite simply, fits. This year’s stars, actresses Emmy Rossum and Camilla Belle, were featured in television commercials highlighting a range of cotton fashions, from East Coast to West Coast and everywhere in between. Cotton’s 24-Hour Runway Show mirrored that approach, with distinct hourly categories that showcased America’s style from coast to coast.

“Ultimately, consumers want to feel a connection,” Hendee says. “Cotton’s 24-Hour Runway Show went beyond the television commercials to give consumers a variety of ways to build a relationship not only with cotton, but also with the more than 70 retailers on the runway. So now consumers can connect on their own time, in their own way—and retailers can reap the rewards.”

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