Word-of-mouth marketing has historically been one of the most effective ways to amplify products. Successfully embed a brand within an influential community, and let the dominoes fall.
In the Instagram age, digital word-of-mouth has helped turn nascent brands into global powerhouses. Take Solid & Striped, which started as a small swimwear line in Los Angeles in 2012. This spring, Poppy Delevingne launched her second collaboration with the brand, and her celebrity friends have taken notice — the suits have been seen in the Instagram feeds of fans of the brand including Gigi Hadid, Leandra Medine and Taylor Swift. Now the company regularly sells out of its latest styles.
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“One piece sold out twice,” Delevingne told Womens Wear Daily at the Cannes Film Festival. “We can’t keep it in stock, which I’m very happy about because it’s my favorite [style]. I actually e-mailed the team saying: ‘Guys, can I get two of these just for myself? It will never exist again. What if I lose it, what if it shrinks in the wash, if something bad happens to it? I need more than just one.’”
Solid & Striped has mastered the simple, vintage-style swimsuit design, chock full of one-pieces, high-waisted bikini bottoms and tailored men’s trunks. Kyle Wong, CEO of Pixlee, said the refined aesthetic of Instagram allows companies like Solid & Striped to create a visually compelling story around a product, with the help of high-profile influencers.
“Compared to Snapchat, Twitter and Facebook, Instagram is the best curated form of word-of-mouth marketing,” Wong said. “People will post about a product they like, but aren’t necessarily posting 20 things at a time. They’re choosing their best one or two pictures and telling a story about that picture.”
Wong added that part of the success Solid & Striped is having on Instagram is the result of both swimwear and athleisure being top performing verticals on the platform in terms of engagement. He noted this is in part due to the aspirational lifestyles they depict.
“These brands, especially the swimwear brands, are promoting a lifestyle associated with their products,” he said.
Led by CEO Isaac Ross, the company boasts an impressive crew of industry insiders, including design director Michelle Copelman, formerly of J.Crew. The products are sold at a moderate price-point, with suits selling for an average of $150.
“Regardless of how good you are on Instagram, or the tactics that you use to market, at the end of the day it comes down to having a great product that resonates with the consumer,” Wong said.