The Digital Strategy You Need To Succeed In The Fashion Industry

At Embryo we pride ourselves on our curiosity and innovation, which is how we were able to develop the Embryo Index. Our indexes are powerful tools that enable businesses from multiple industries to compare their digital strategies against each other to see who comes out on top. Our fashion index analyses hundreds of retailers that offer affordable to luxury fashion, to specifically menswear brands. In a recent update to the Fashion index we found some interesting findings:

  • Out of the top 100 companies, only 12 have seen no or a negative change to their index score. Meaning that 88 companies have spent the start of the new year developing their digital strategies.
  • 21 brands in the top 100 are based in the North West, something we’re not too surprised about since it’s long been a textile hub in the UK.
  • Whilst Boohoo has managed to maintain its second-place ranking, its male counterpart BoohooMAN has seen its index score decrease by 5.2 points.
  • The biggest sector that experienced the most positive growth is ‘affordable fashion’. However, not all affordable fashion brands have seen positive growth.

Two affordable brands that have experienced contradicting changes are Pretty Little Thing (PLT) who’s experienced nearly the biggest growth and moved up to 6th place, whilst another affordable brand MissPap actually fell 36 places. With these brands operating within the same market and targeting a similar if not the same audience, we decided to take a closer look at their marketing strategies to see why they’re achieving very different results.

First thing first, we looked at how the brands are similar?

  • Both fashion brands target a young female audience with affordable products that focus on the latest trends and styles
  • Each brand was set up around a similar time in the early 2010s.
  • Looking at their websites both even offer similar layouts, with large homepage banners offering large discount codes on top of their already considered affordable prices.

It was then during our research that we discovered the biggest similarity, that both brands are owned by the same group. Back in 2019, to strengthen their offering to the 16-24 year old fashion market, the boohoo group (who also own PrettyLittleThing) acquired MissPap.

So with both brands being owned by the same fashion market-dominating group, who you assume are using similar strategies, why are both companies not seeing the same results? We decided to take a deeper look into their digital marketing activities, and here’s what we found:

Increasing brand visibility through SEO

Organic keywords show the amount of industry-related terms (keywords) that a website can be found for and by looking at these numbers you can learn a lot about the success or failure of a brand’s SEO activities. Comparing PLT with MissPap the graph below shows a huge difference in keyword rankings, with PLT ranking for over 78,000 keywords, whilst MissPap only ranks for just over 7,000.

Not surprisingly then that PLT also has a much stronger domain authority, showing they are much more likely to be displayed in search results.

PLT also has many more referring domains than MissPap, with every one referring domain for MissPap, PLT has 21.4.

All of this plays a fundamental role in why the visibility of the two sites is so massively different (shown in the graph below). You can also see how PLT’s visibility began to increase in the summer months of 2021 around the time when they made their big announcement (more on this below).

Using partnerships to create compelling news stories

Digital PR is similar in that to traditional PR as it helps raise brand awareness, however thanks to the digital part it can also enhance the success of your SEO campaigns and results, something which judging by their increase in visibility, PLT knows about/is good at.

The pink, unicorn loving brand often has regular news features thanks to celebrity collaborations and partnerships, with their inclusion of influencers in their digital strategy not only increasing their visibility but also their sales. This can be easily shown by PLT taking influencer marketing one step further, and deciding to hire Molly-Mae Hague (best-know for coming second in Love Island 2019) as Creative Director back in the summer of 2021 (around the time of the spike in visibility we just showed you). Since this appointment the brand has received numerous links and features in stories all helping to boost their brand.

Now whilst MissPap uses similar tactics, the level of their influencers and the investment into these activities is no way comparable.

Raising brand awareness on social media 

As you can see from the table below, PLT has almost 6 times as many social media followers as MissPap.















This huge extra increase in the brand following makes it much easier for PLT to raise brand awareness and drive engagements with their content, and convert their audience. It’s important to remember here that a social media following doesn’t just dramatically increase overnight, it takes time and happens naturally through the other marketing activities your brand invests in.

Overall despite both brands being established for a similar time and now being owned by the same group, the continued rapid growth and popularity of Pretty Little Thing means it will always have the advantage on Misspap. Though as the Boohoo group owns a majority of their competitors, some might argue they are monopolising the market and ensuring that if customers don’t purchase their jeans and a nice top from PLT they head to another one of their many other brands, Misspap included. Meaning they don’t need to invest as heavily in brands like Misspap when they already have dominating brands like boohoo and PLT.

So since Molly-Mae is taken, what can your brand do to succeed?

We’re not saying that the success of PLT can easily and quickly be replicated, but here are some key takeaways your marketing strategy can benefit from:

  • Mixed channels – using a strategy that focuses on multiple marketing channels will help increase your success and the results you will see.
  • Knowing your audience – PLT knows who their audience is, which is why the decisions they make work. If you’re looking to create partnerships or when you’re sharing content make sure it’s authentic to your brand and somebody or something your audience wants to see.
  • Staying on trend – Being up to date with the relevant news and trends within your industry will help you stay ahead of the crowd and enable you to make strategic decisions when it comes to your marketing strategy.
  • Engaging with others – When it comes to digital marketing, you can’t do it alone. All of your different channels have a different purpose but they all have one major aim, to engage your audience. However it’s not enough just to share content, you have to engage with your online audience too. Like comments, reply back to customers and interact with other relevant brands.

Want to know more about how you can improve the success of your digital marketing activities? Our team is more than happy to conduct a free competitor analysis for you, helping you identify the best opportunities for you to take advantage of. Or you can get in touch with our team directly to discuss further.


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