INFLUENCE OF SOCIAL MEDIA EXPOSURE ON FASHION TRENDS AMONG UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS
The usage of social media technology by luxury brands surged in 2009. Technology encourages customers to interact with brands. These customer interactions build the brand by increasing awareness, involvement, and engagement; thus, adding to brand recall and stimulating purchases. Tweets, blogs, and social networks like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and Pinterest offer fashion brands ways to connect with audiences. Though many fashion brands initially believed social networking would weaken the relationship with consumers, social media is now viewed as an opportunity to improve customer relationships and to ultimately capture a larger audience. For example, the timing was right for Gucci’s multicultural social network site, “Guccieyeweb.com” for the launch of a new sunglasses collection targeting digital generation customers. Gucci updates its Facebook site several times a day and sends Twitter tweets (Kim and Ko, 2012)
The emergence of social media (e.g., Facebook, Twitter) has boosted interest in word of mouth and viral marketing among luxury brands. Word of mouth (WOM) – interpersonal communication about products and services between consumers – is one of the most influential sources of marketplace information for consumers (Arndt, 1967; Alreck & Settle, 1995). When WOM travels on the Internet, it can be viral and most powerful, regardless of whether the information is good or bad. For followers, it is becoming increasingly challenging to sort out the facts, since the immediacy of information is extreme with no standard to determine the truth. The spread of information brings people to a common sphere to exchange views. Los Angeles day-to-day celebrity wear, for example, has become a worldwide phenomenon, partly due to social media legitimizing the casual look. Vintage stores, showcasing T shirts and jeans, permeating the Los Angeles casual style, are the retail niche of consumers found now throughout the world.
Fashion is everywhere, mostly due to the internet. “Blogs” offer consumers an almost unlimited space for self-expression on the Internet (Kozinets, 2006). Blogs are defined as personal websites, “usually maintained by an individual with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video, where entries are commonly displayed in reverse-chronological order” (Wikipedia, 2009). Unlike fashion-focused magazines and television shows, there are millions of fashion blogs worldwide that are updated regularly with new fashion trends. The blog’s effectiveness is due to its strong individual, personal, popular, and elitist point of view. Its engaging experience offers readers the opportunity to voice opinions and challenge fashion critics.
Brands view popular bloggers as the new journalists and influencers. The advent of agencies representing bloggers points to the evolving influence of fashion blogs. Once considered fashion-obsessed amateurs, style bloggers have matured into fashion trendsetters and the savvy marketers command fourand five-figure fees from brands. New agencies like Digital Brand Architects in New York represent fashion and lifestyle bloggers, brokering endorsement deals with fashion labels, signing up advertisers and, in some cases, booking lucrative television commercials. Nowadays even mainstream agencies like Creative Artists Agency represent powerful bloggers (Kurutz, 2011).
In the past two years, there is a growth in fashion apps for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod. These apps offer customers up-to-the-minute deals, information on the latest fashion trends, the convenience of shopping directly from an iPhone, iPad or iPod, and ease of social sharing. Pose, for example, is a fashion app full of blogger images and ideas. Users can score the latest looks from fashionistas and trendsetters as well as share favorite fashion finds and outfits. Even more, like Facebook, users interact with styles, and share Twitter Pose tweets.
Social media is the interaction among people in which they create, share or exchange information and ideas in virtual communities and networks, Go, vender, et al (2013). Social media depends on mobile and web- based technologies to create highly interactive platforms through which individuals and communities share, co- create, discuss, and modify user-generated content. They introduce substantial and pervasive changes to
communication between organizations, communities, and individuals, Megan A. Pumper et al (2011). The increased use of the Internet as a new tool in communication has changed the way people interact. Recently, a new means of online communication has emerged with its own set of idiosyncrasies. This new communication style occurs through the use of social networking sites.
Over the last decade, Social media has become an effective marketing tool; it has not only created a new dimension of marketing, but has also provided many opportunities to the marketers to create brand awareness among consumers. It is now considered as the most transparent, engaging and interactive form of public relations.
Social media is a compilation of online platforms and communication channels that are used by people to share information, profiles, assumptions, observations, apprehension, and media itself; it facilitates communication and interactions between different groups of people from all across the world. (Moran, 2012).
The world has become a Global Village & with the advent of information technology, the ways of communication and work have been revolutionized completely. The emergence of social media has transformed the world and its entire way of functioning, bringing the world and its people closer. Social media refers to activities, practices, and behaviors among groups of people who gather online to share information, experiences, and perspectives using colloquial media. Colloquial or conversational media are basically online based applications that have enabled to create and transmit content in the form of words, pictures, videos, and audios. (Brake, 2009).
One industry which is considered to be perfectly suited and naturally fit for social media is Fashion. When we talk about social media for the fashion industry, it refers to the social networking websites and other online platforms that enable the fashion industry to connect with their customers using the latest social networking technology. The fashion Industry is using social media to study trends and anticipate fashion behaviors. It is embracing social media, which has enabled it to emerge in the forefront as a phenomenon.