• Retail Dive

Aerie mimics UGC to boost authenticity on YouTube

  • Since its 2006 launch, apparel brand Aerie has adopted a more YouTube-specific video strategy compared to other brands that imitate TV on the video platform, according to a Gartner L2 report on specialty retailers' digital know-how that was shared with Retail Dive's sister publication Mobile Marketer. The branded videos are tailored to YouTube by mimicking user- or influencer-generated content with "cheap and cheerful" formats such as short tutorials, fit guides or shooting in front of simple fabric backdrops.

  • At the same time, the American Eagle-owned brand has seen success in partnering with influencers on YouTube. Body-positive influencer Iskra produces content for Aerie, including travel diaries, workout tutorials and clothing fit guides. Her YouTube videos for Aerie drove 57% of the brand's views on the platform in 2017, Gartner L2 found.

Instead of replicating TV-like video strategies for YouTube and paying to promote the content on the channel, Aerie has seen success with abandoning that "spray and pray" method in favor of listening to its target audience and customizing content to fit each platform. The brand takes cues from user- and influencer-generated content with a casual style of video that mimics the authentic feel of non-branded YouTube content. Aerie's success from this approach demonstrates the value of monitoring content trends and understanding what resonates with target consumers.

The push for more authentic video content solidly fits into Aerie's broader marketing strategy. In 2014, the brand launched its "Aerie Real" initiative that highlights unretouched ads and promotes inclusive body positivity to better connect with customers, especially younger ones. Just months after the brand pledged to stop using Photoshop in its ads and portray more realistic girls and women in its marketing, sales jumped 9%.

Aerie isn't the only retailer to tailor its videos to the platform. Sephora, largely accoladed for its retail marketing strategy, leverages platform-specific content instead of repurposing videos across all channels. For a makeup tutorial on Instagram, the cosmetics company created short GIFs, videos and images to illustrate the demonstration, per Gartner L2. At the end of the series, users could swipe up to view the full 12-minute tutorial on YouTube. This highlights how retailers are taking cues from UGC and customizing video content to fit each specific platform and better align with consumers' habits.

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