Inclusive to a Fault
Updated: Nov 23, 2020
First things first, this article is not an attack on your queen Beyoncé. So shoo away, Bey-hive. I come in peace.
I am, however, giving a healthy dose of criticism to her launch of her recent Ivy Park x Adidas Drip 2 collection. As a fan of Adidas, I think the collection is super cute - the colors, the silhouettes, and the various options you have to “complete an outfit”. In fact, I was one of those quarantined people that had multiple devices open to purchase a few items during the limited release. I actually am a sucker for designer limited-releases - I blame my glory and cold days working at Target HQ in Minneapolis.
Now, as a career marketer, I can list several suboptimal aspects of her Drip 2 launch. But to be candid, I hardly ever see an exclusive online launch go successfully - regardless of brand, celebrity, etc. So to single Beyoncé out, would for sure be hater-ish.
Before moving forward, I should probably define successfully (in my humble opinion). It’s not just selling out the website in 10 seconds. To be clear, Beyoncé will always get her coins. I’m more focused on the consumer experience and sentiment - and that, my friends, is where things fell apart. A simple #ivypark hashtag review on Twitter will illustrate the problem. Hardly no one is content with the clothing pieces they purchased because the sizing is off. Like wayyy off. To make sure I wasn't tripping, I chatted with a few sets of friends who literally asked the same question: Who did she make these clothes for?! I even joined a private facebook group designed to trade pieces that didn't fit.
Well, let’s start with language used around this launch: inclusive. It’s a 2020 buzz word for sure, and encompassed the garments being gender-neutral and ranging from XXXS to 4X. Which is actually quite amazing for a limited launch. But just as it's amazing, it's actually what led to her issues.
If you're a client of mine, you've likely heard me drill deep into the topic of target audience. You may have also heard me say "if you try to appeal to everyone, you will appeal to no one". Of course, she certainly leaned into a subsegment of the population that a) is a fan of hers b) appreciates trendy athleisure clothes c) has the disposable income to drop $$$ on it. But to appeal to both men and women, in a host (~15) of sizes, is...ambitious. And she did not implement a key item that would have solved her biggest issue: sizing charts that empowered shoppers to make accurate online purchases. She seemingly sized the items based off a "standard"male body, which is confusing given I'm pretty confident her largest audience is female. And the size charts that were offered were seemingly retailer-based, vs. brand-based (coming from IVY Park). Example: XS fits like a medium/large. And the sizes varied depending if it was a gender-neutral item or not. Sadly, I saw consumers starting to circulate their own size charts to help others.
Side Note: Sounds like with Ivy Park's first launch, Beyonce was dinged for not being inclusive with plus size women. So she may have been overcompensating with this launch. I don't know... but the issue still remains. Based on my private facebook group even plus-size women still had issues with the fit of their purchases... carry on.
You may ask, is this really a big deal Cherice. A lot of brands have subpar sizing charts. This is true. But... I should probably remind you (and others who read this a few years from now), we are in a global pandemic! Online shopping is the default, and no one wants to step foot in a mall right now... especially to try things on. So most shoppers, like me, quickly bought a whole bunch of pricey items (win), and none of it fits properly (lose). And everything is sold out so you can't just walk in a store or online to buy the right size (lose lose). Oh, and you can only imagine frustration from retailers who sold these items and all the returns they will need to process.
Since this is a blog and not a dissertation, I'll stop here. I think you get the point. Which can be as simple as make sure its super easy and comprehensible to buy your items, or as complex as ensuring that you are targeting the right consumers with each launch. Again, I think it's amazing that she is being inclusive with her launches, but as a consultant I would highly evaluate the "core consumer" that you center your launch around. Make sure their experience is A1 - this is your bread and butter customer that will evangelize your brand. THEN, if you want to become more inclusive, branch out from there. I'm still struggling to understand why she took the approach she did... someone, anyone, help me!
P.S I'm pretty confident that Beyonce is modeling a fully tailored version of her garments, which is also problematic. These clothes do not fit like that! Still cute though :)