How will Boohoo apply its influencer marketing to Karen Millen’s audience?

In early August, Boohoo, an online only retailer that started in 2006 by co-founders Carol Kane and Mahmud Kamani, bought Karen Millen and Coast. At first glance, it’s an unlikely pairing. Boohoo, a pioneer of fast-fashion and Karen Millen, a Brit label that became iconic on the high streets. Analytics said the deal would help Boohoo “Which focuses on young fashion, shift towards a more grown-up market as its shoppers got older and shied away from disposable fashion.”

Its current Icelandic owners, Kaupthing bank had tried to find a buyer for the whole business. After struggling with this, they agreed upon a deal with Boohoo that would save the brands online presence. Rob Harding, joint administrator at Deloitte, commented that the deal with Boohoo would allow “The survival of these iconic British brands through an online platform.”

As a British-born company itself, buying other renowned British brands such as Karen Millen and Coast, adds to Boohoos portfolio of multi-brand platforms and helps them gain more status in the e-commerce fashion markets. According to the Economist, the brand has dreams of expansion into America and Europe and this new deal helps them to cover a more diverse target market.

The CEO of the Boohoo Group, John Lyttle commented, “The acquisition of the online business of two great and renowned British brands in Karen Millen and Coast represents another milestone in the Group’s growth story as it continues to invest in its scalable multi-brand platform and gain further share in the global fashion e-commerce market.”

Since 2006, the fashion retailer has risen to achieve a market value of 2.6bn. Boohoo's famously bold advertising and Gorilla marketing will have a lot to do with this rapid growth. It’s rare to do a journey on public transport and not spot a Boohoo, Pretty Little Thing or Nasty Gal ad – usually featuring one of the latest reality TV stars.

Image source: Sunbeam Studios

Being a tech-savvy establishment, Boohoo uses celebrity culture and social media to its advantage. Reality TV shows such as Love Island have also filtered into their marketing tactics in the recent years. Gifting clothes to contestants during the recording of the show, means Boohoo and its sub-brands such as Pretty Little Thing can be spotted in every episode across the eight-week series.

The Boohoo Group focuses on digital and social media for marketing, meaning they occupy the platforms their target market (16-30 year olds) use on a regular basis. Social media marketing and collaborations with influencers are largely what the brand owes its success to and they form a core part of its identity. How will the online-only retailer apply this to its most recent additions?

Student ambassador programs help Boohoo capitalize on influencer culture on a smaller scale. Offering students free clothes and event invites in exchange for them wearing the brand in university, helps them infiltrate these spaces in a less invasive way. Selected ambassadors must have a healthy online presence, so they can promote the brand both offline and online. People are happy to take recommendations from peers or people they loyally follow online, so having these micro-influencers endorsing their brand helps Boohoo reach a dedicated audience.

Image source: Boohoo

“Social media marketing and collaborations with influencers are largely what the brand owes its success to and they form a core part of its identity. How will the online-only retailer apply this to its most recent additions?"

This form of marketing can be highly effective for their target audience of 16-30 year olds, but how can they adapt this to the target audience of Karen Millen and Coast? These customers are not as avid social media users and perhaps don’t pay as much attention to influencer culture.

Chief executive of Retail Economics, Richard Lim, commented: "Karen Millen is a different customer segmentation for them, but one that I think could flourish as an online-only proposition. Boohoo will use all the expertise they have acquired in recent years using social media and bring the brand to a newer audience."