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Experts Say Denim Marketing During Covid Calls for Tech and Patience

An industry that leans on travel and the sense of touch, fashion has been especially impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. Within the industry, it’s the marketing teams in charge of connecting with customers and communicating their latest innovations that have had to get particularly creative as they navigate the new normal.

In a recent Carved in Blue webinar hosted by Lenzing’s Tricia Carey, marketers from denim mills around the world addressed the unique challenges they’ve faced in the aftermath of the coronavirus. According to the panelists, one of the biggest hurdles at the beginning of the pandemic was formulating how they would join the conversation. While society collectively experienced the stress of the unknown, messaging simply couldn’t continue on as usual.

As Kara Nicholas, Elevate Textiles vice president of marketing, noted, it was time for the denim supply chain to show its human side. “We realized that people may not be in the headspace to hear about our latest sustainable offerings,” she said. “So we started to really think about what was resonating with us, and we started using a more uplifting message about giving back to the community.”

Elevate began sharing information about its pivot from denim to PPE production; it promoted artist Ian Berry’s #iClapFor campaign to celebrate essential workers; and it hosted a Zoom dance party as well as a positive news presentation at a virtual trade show. These uplifting, socially aware consumer touch points helped show that Elevate was made up of people who, like everyone else, were living through a global pandemic.

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For Mark Ix, Advance Denim’s director of North American marketing, constant contact is what’s most important during turbulent times.

“It’s important that customers know that we are still moving forward, that our sustainability efforts have not stopped and that our manufacturing and our developments are robust,” said Ix. “And it’s important that they see that on a daily basis.” While challenging, the strong will become better because of it, he added.

Like many others, Ix has turned to social media, Zoom and other digital methods to meet consumers where they are: home.

Turkish denim mill Orta Anadolu, which recently introduced a digitally integrated sales kit, is committed to emerging from the pandemic with more robust communication methods. The kit includes six boxes highlighting a different product offering with swatches and a QR code that users can scan for additional information. This merging of tactile and technical is essential to continuing business for denim mills when in-person meetings are off limits.

The kit also underscores consumers’ increasing social awareness, another byproduct of the pandemic. Minimally designed and including just enough fabric to communicate its benefits, the kit is a sustainable alternative to traditional samples.

“Today’s marketing is more about commitments, real actions and customized solutions,” said Zennure Danisman, Orta’s marketing and washing manager.

Panelists also recognized the need for staying confident in their company’s innovations, even when business is slow. Ix, who recalled a moment years ago when customers were hesitant to embrace stretch denim, explained the virtue of patience.

“If you have a great idea, it’s all about patience,” he said. “People will catch up to you.”