With about 13 million monthly mentions of the hashtag #fashion on Instagram globally1 and hundreds of thousand of fashion-related Facebook groups across the globe,2discussions about what we wear and how we wear it have never been more immediate, immersive and international.
In the first in a series of Facebook IQ articles focused on fashion, we’ve looked at conversations and connections on Facebook and Instagram to help fashion retailers gain a deeper understanding of fashion buyers and discover useful trends and keywords to incorporate into their campaigns.
Our research involved looking at conversations about fashion on Facebook3 and Instagram4 in Great Britain, the US, France, Spain, Italy and Germany to discover key themes. And we used machine-learning to analyse conversations on Facebook in each of the six countries about fashion-related terms to detect the strength of associations between words.5
We have discovered trends around sustainable fashion and uncovered distinct fashion priorities and associations with shopping in each of the six countries.
Facebook fashion conversations are always on
We analysed conversations about clothes and accessories, expecting to uncover peaks and troughs as shops and fashion brands unveil their new season collections. However, while fashion retailers might experience busier and quieter periods, we found conversations about shopping, clothing and accessories on Facebook to be relatively consistent over the course of 2016/2017.3There is a slight peak in shopping conversations around Christmas, and the annual Halloween costume discussion causes a spike in conversations about clothes in October. Also, we see the peak day for conversations about fashion across a week is Saturday.
Facebook conversation data about clothes and accessories1
Balancing the need for speed with sustainable considerations
The rise of fast fashion, where retailers rapidly produce inexpensive clothing in response to the latest trends, has been well documented in recent years. However, our data shows that it’s not all about speed in every country; for example in Spain, mentions of sustainable fashion grew 24% between June 2016 and June 2017.3 Perhaps this reflects the fact that two big Spanish fashion brands both launched lines made from sustainable fabrics in late 2016/early 2017.
Despite the many conversations about ethical and sustainable fashions on Facebook, research from Mintel6 suggests that while people may show an interest in eco-fashion, they often feel too short of cash or time to turn their interest into action.
Fashion priorities differ by country
The fashion community on Facebook is more diverse than people may realise. We found that over a third (37%) of mentions of shopping, clothes and accessories on Facebook are made by men.3
Our analysis has revealed some differences in the words associated with fashion between countries. People in Britain tend to use words such as “therapy”, “pampering” and “treats” when talking about shopping on Facebook.5 This fits with the adage: “When life gets tough, Brits go shopping” and also reflects moves by retailers in recent years to create more experiential shopping experiences. For example, a popular UK clothing retailer has a café and spa in its flagship store, and a high-end department store recently hosted an in-store popup music experience with live bands and DJs.
People on Facebook in the US use more functional language such as: “errands”, “cart” and “mall”.5 Does this reflect a more work-driven culture and highlight the busy lives of fashion shoppers in the US? In Germany, fashion shopping is associated with “walking” and “strolling” and in France it is associated with “gifts” and “discounts”.5 For those in Spain and Italy, the words related to shopping are closely tied to the cost of fashion, for example, “expensive”, “cheap” or “cost”.5
When we explore the most mentioned fashion item by women on Facebook, we also see distinct behaviours and preferences. Unsurprisingly, with sometimes more inclement weather amongst the countries we studied, people in Britain talk most about outerwear.3 Whereas, for Spain and Germany it is handbags and for the US, France and Italy it is shoes.3
Top to toe – most-mentioned fashion items by country3
Instagram and Facebook fashion groups provide homes for fashionistas
From our Feed Fashion research in 2016, we know that European fashion fans are highly engaged on Instagram, consuming five times as many photos as the average Instagrammer and checking Instagram 15 times a day.7 The research found that 45% Instagrammers polled in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Britain follow a fashion brand, business or fashionista to get inspiration for looks that they can put together or buy.7
We compared women who use the hashtag #fashion with average female Instagram users who don’t and found that they tend to be engaged, and they love video.4 #Fashion users have 3.63 times more followers and are following 2.21 times more people and brands.4 They’re 16 times more likely to post on Instagram and 12 times more likely to comment.4 They watch 2.35 times more videos, and they watch videos for longer.4
We also wanted to see how people interested in fashion are using Facebook groups, which provide a way for friends and strangers to build a community around a common interest. On average, across the six countries we studied, there are 52,000 fashion-related groups per country, with around 320 active members in each group.8 Membership of fashion groups is around two thirds female (70%), one third male (30%).8
Take a look at fashion word association on Facebook in Great Britain
We’ve visualised the machine-learning natural language processing used in the article above, so you can explore the words associated with fashion on Facebook. We’ve clustered the top words associated with fashion and shopping on Facebook in Britain. Click on the circles below to discover how fashion and shopping conversations connect.