Digital Case Study – eCommerce – Faballey wants you to #unfollow

For the past few days, Fab Alley’s viral commercial by NewYork based standup comedian Radhika Vaiz has created enough storm in the advertising & marketing corridors. In the film, Vaz talks about women and their struggle to conform to fashion trends.

For an ad of such boldness, it was obvious to attract the attention from everything. Since the day it is launched, the ad has gone viral & has already touched around 200,000 hits on Faballey’s youtube channel.


The views that are coming from the industry experts are mixed. While few strategists see this as a huge risk taken by the brand which may backfire due to some gaps in its execution.

Expert’s opinion about #unfollow

In one of the interviews given to afaqs.com, advertising veteran Prathap Suthan’s from banginthemiddle said:

He fears that the brand has fired all its guns at the same time by showing a very niche professional, who is an older, unconventional, and atypical model, speaking a language that’s way ahead of daily speak, and not wearing anything at all.

There is no doubt that Radhika’s ‘bare it all’ act has delivered a huge shock value and it also carries enough arsenal to shake up the cluttered e-commerce ad space which is largely restricted to daily deals & coupons. But by using this bold script, Jack In The Box team may have caused a severe harm to Faballey’s positioning by alienating a sizable chunk of women audience.

The stand up script used by Radhika in the controversial video ‘WHAT THE F**K SHOULD I WEAR?’ is too difficult to follow for an average person. Needless to say that the humor is way too above the sensibilities of a large section of indian population.

Here’s what Eshita Jayaswal from Webchutney has to say about the campaign on twitter:

But she also made a very interesting comment on the topic that shows the irony within the Fab Alley’s brand messaging and I quote:

‘While the brand asks one to ‘unfollow’ it continues to have segments like “Trends”, “Lookbook” and “New In”. If FabAlley wants to break category clutter with such powerful communication, it needs to walk the talk and break away from the typical ecommerce/retail nomenclature that has become a norm in this space.’

Fab Alley has made a bold attempt to create some breathing space in a world dominated by Shoppers Stop, Myntra & Jabong.com of the world.

CEO’s view

While the entire advertising seems to be warming up to the viral, Tanvi Malik, co-founder Faballey.com is in no mood to go defensive about their strategy. In her interview with afaqs.com, she made it absolutely clear that  her brand is here to cause some serious disruption in the thinking of women as to how they can liberate themselves from the shackles of people’s perception & judgements.

‘FabAlley wants to be an empowering, feminist brand. We do not want to operate in the shallow, trend-oriented space’ ~ Tanvi Malik, Co-Founder – Faballey.com

Click here to read the entire interview with Tanvi Malik.

Older, Angrier, Hairier, Unladylike Radhika Vaz

By no means you can call her a girl next door because she is not. Born in Mumbai, Radhika Vaz moved to New York and realized she wanted to be a stand-up comedian. Her humor can be a little uncomfortable for many as the F-word is sitting on the edge of her tongue. In one of her interview given to the Times of India, she responded about her un-womanlike mannerisms & personality by saying,

‘I am barely a woman’

I went through her twitter page, and some of her tweets are real fun to read 🙂    

Being a feminist, Radhika wholeheartedly endorses Faballey’s views about the liberty of expression when it comes to women fashion (it is quite visible in her stand up act too). She is actively promoting the brand through her social pages and in the media. No doubt, having a multi-dimensional personality who is a writer, feminist and a stand up comedian is a great advantage for any women fashion brand.

Social Media Response

The video viral campaign had every recipe to trend on the twitter timelines, and so it did. Faballey’s #unfollow campaign has asked a lot of question to their audience and people (especially women are responding to it) with absolute nonchalance.

#unfollow campaign by faballey.com

The brand has created a separate hashtag #BeAnUnfollower to capture the moods around the #unfollow campaign and engage with their potential customers. They are also prompting the audience to liberate their views & come out of cliches related to their personal fashion. Create your own style statement by not following the herd mentality.

Here are some interesting tweets around #BeAnUnfollower campaign:

My view

I think strategically, innovative tools around fashion discovery or curated fashion will create newer opportunities for e-commerce companies in 2015. To say that boldness never pays in India would be a myopic point of view. Definitely a pat on the back for the Jack In The Box team to break the cliche advertising followed by most of the digital agencies. This may just prompt a lot of retail brands to re-look at their current content strategy. However, using nudity for shock value may just be a little too much for a newer brand like faballey.com.

Startup should madly chase Customer Retention

Startups are often associated with mad race for generating more and more leads, prospects, opportunities, fight for higher conversions & maximising quarterly revenue figures.

No surprises there.

And if you ask any startup CMO, he would tell you exactly the same thing, that customer retention is least of their worries, especially during early stages of their business.

As digital marketing professionals, we all are trained to look ahead and think about “what’s next“, once the sale is completed.

Of course, this race for customer acquisition is never ending. And it should not stop either.

But what we also need to look at is, how we monitor the growth of our existing and new customers?

In my digital career , I’ve been fortunate to work in the SMB marketing team of Microsoft. For the first time, I understood the meaning of digital B2B Marketing. And this is something extremely important for a startup founder.

The thing is , nothing is constant in the technology space, and almost every SAAS product has a very short lifespan to make an impact.

Sooner than later, a better technology or platform will out-manoeuvre the older tech and market trends will respond to it almost instantly due to ever so fast & evolving Digital-Socio-Mobile ecosystem.

The importance of keeping a firm control over your existing customers is indeed a daunting task. Today, on one side, companies like Adobe & Google are adding thousands of customers everyday, but they are making even bigger investments in retaining older customers because their bulk of revenues are coming from the existing customers through the up-sell / cross sell and license renewals.

In a world where every upcoming technology is converging to the cloud, changing platforms and tools would be as easy as changing your mobile carrier because everything (including your company’s data) is on the move.

Interestingly, the talk about data portability is already heating up in the tech sector.

A customer is all the time looking for the best value proposition for his business to optimise his own margins. He would not take a split of a second to change his IT priorities.

Therefore, in order to build a customer retention strategy, tech companies would require to put tremendous effort & investments into customer research, training these customers and helping them create a path to their success by utilising those tools more effectively.

The Zillion dollar question still remains, how to retain your customers?

5 Customer Retention Strategies any startup

Product development life cycle plan

It allows you to outsmart your competitors every time. I know it is easier said than done but only if your product life cycle is truly evolving & dynamic to market changes, you can expect your customer to stay with you for longer duration.

Forecasting

But not just revenue but customers expectations from the product. Repackaging the product into a more current looking avatar. Everybody likes to change, a customer always have this expectation that if their business have grown, the tools they are using should also grow with them. Perhaps this is one of the key reason, open source technologies have better adoption than proprietary softwares. Though, a lot of their updates are full of bugs but it keeps the connection going.

Customer Training Program

Draft a calendar of training programs for your customer and feed him with all the necessary tools to master your product & technology. This could perhaps be the most effective marketing tactic, which if landed properly can fetch millions of extra dollars, not just by up selling your product but by creating a fantastic word of mouth.

Customer is your product manager

Making your customer feel like a product head who is not just using the software but also adding value in its future developments. As a business owner you would realise, that your research cost is approaching towards zero.

KYC – Know Your Customer

Follow your customer’s digital footprint by helping him gain more insights into his business by pointing towards the right resources.

As a startup CMO, you should only think from a customer’s point of view, no customer wants to keep changing the things upside down, if for once he finds faith & value in what your product has to offer, he will become a part of your family.