A friend of mine, a successful marketing consultant, spends two or three hours a night on Polyvore.com. She is really obsessed with making fashion collages and competing with other community members. But two or three hours sounds a little excessive. When I asked her why, she said that making sets allows her to relax away the stresses of her demanding job, and satisfies her urge to shop. “It’s like a social club where everybody shares your interests!” So what is Polyvore?
The idea behind the company is quite simple–Polyvore offers a tool that allows people to create collages or “sets” from clothes that they can find online. You can “clip” a picture of any piece of clothing or accessory you like from any e-commerce website, and add it to your Polyvore set.
The great thing about Polyvore is that anyone with a great sense of style can have thousands of followers. And it doesn’t matter where you live–whether in New York City or Podunk, U.S.A.–you can be a star! On Polyvore you can express your creativity and love of fashion, and be appreciated for your talent.
I like how Polyvore takes the stance of having no rules about combining products. It’s great to see sets that combine famous brands with emerging designers’ pieces or off-the-rack. The New Yorker called it “democratization of fashion,” and I’m whole-heartedly embracing this concept because it reflects the way people dress in real life: combining expensive and inexpensive clothing.
How can brands use Polyvore for business?
Polyvore started in 2006, but reached profitability only in 2011–it wasn’t easy to persuade large brands to cooperate with a small web startup. And they’re still small, less than 50 people, but the online community they built is huge, with 20+ million visitors per month (more than Pinterest and Twitter combined). And with 2.4+ million sets created each month, they are reaching over a billion hits!
In the beginning, the luxury brands didn’t find the idea of democratization of fashion attractive–they didn’t like the idea of their products being combined with inexpensive clothing and accessories. But now brand like Burberry and Gucci are finally beginning to understand Polyvore’s potential, and can no longer resist the chance to benefit from this new trend.
There are several ways brands can benefit from using Polyvore.
1. New referral traffic to the brand’s e-commerce website
The sets that people make are actually user-generated ads. And you can shop for anything you see on Polyvore–they are linked back to each brand’s e-commerce website, which can drives sales. Polyvore receives a transaction fee for each sale made as a result of using their site.
To get direct sales from Polyvore is not easy, and it takes time and work. You have to build a complete profile, regularly upload items, categorize them, and start interacting with users. I prefer following your favorite Polyvore members or organize contests, which engage fans by having them create sets that follow a certain theme.
2. Brand advertisement
You can’t buy a banner on Polyvore’s website; it’s just not that simple. However, Polyvore offers each brand several paid advertising opportunities. On Polyvore, brands can promote their sets and products in users’ streams, as well as in the “Editor” and “Shop” sections.
As Polyvore’s traffic grows, they have begun to realize how much valuable information about viewers’ preferences they already have. So why not use this to their advantage? Polyvore offers companies an analytic tool that lets them track every single product they have on Polyvore. The tool is packaged with intelligence reports on the site. This information will help brands to better understand their customers, potential leads, and competitors. Designers can actually get feedback much earlier on collections or specific pieces, and can use that information in the design process.
People like to share their Polyvore sets on Facebook and other social networks. Companies can better engage and gain more visibility from their fans on the social media platforms. Community-based websites like Polyvore are fantastic for engaging new fans and communicating with customers. This channel could be even more effective that the traditional social network platform. Don’t miss this opportunity!