When I think of a women’s lingerie store, my mind automatically goes to Victoria’s Secret, La Senza and La Vie en Rose. When walking by these stores in the mall and while going inside the stores, women are constantly bombarded with images of perfect looking models wearing the products. I think that trying on the products with these images in your head makes a lot of women reluctant to buy the items. Most women forget that yes, these models are beautiful and have thin bodies, however even they don’t look like the photos. Countless hours of retouching and photo shopping go into making them look like they do in the posters.
Modern American standards have created this perfect image of what women should look like, resulting in low self-esteem and dangerous eating disorders. Body image has become extremely important to women, especially at a young age.
Aerie is a lingerie retailer sub-brand owned by American Eagle whose target is the young women demographic, teenagers especially. In their newest campaign, called AerieReal, this organization’s focus is on positive body image. Aerie’s Social Media Associate Manager, Stephanie Campbell, said that “the purpose of AerieREAL is to communicate there is no need to retouch beauty and to give young women of all shapes and sizes the chance to discover amazing styles that work best for them.” Their target was to engage with customers on Twitter and other social media platforms, so they began to post real quotes from their customers to show what #AerieREAL means to them.
This campaign started off with a one hour Twitter chat and a blog feature, resulting in almost 1,000 uses of the hashtag #AerieREAL, which quickly became a nationwide topic. After generating 5 million impressions, Aerie did not stop there. They quickly launched another campaign with the hashtag #LoveYourRealSelfie and set the record for the world’s largest selfie. Campbell also noted that they “earned 40M impressions, 530K engagements on Instagram and Twitter, and grew by 18K Instagram followers during the campaign.“
Stephanie explains that when the #AerieREAL campaign first started, they received hundreds of comments, which they began to group. They sometimes showcase individual tweets and stories from their customers, which show a better picture of the campaign to the executives. In May 2016, #AerieREAL was used 30,000 times on Instagram and they are currently at 558k followers on Instagram. Their online community is growing stronger and faster than ever. A significant part of their campaign is model Iskra Lawrence. She has been turned down many times because of her body type, but has now found a way to tell her story through the #AerieREAL campaign. When she started out with Aerie she was only at 8k followers on Instagram which has now turned into 2.1 million.
I asked Roshani Ga, current part time employee at Aerie to share her thoughts on the hashtag campaign and asked her if she has noticed any changes since it started. She mentioned that customers have been feeling more comfortable while they’re in Aerie and that sales have also increased. Aerie has partnered with the National Eating Disorder Association and for the future, it will be donating $1 for every use of #AerieREAL. They will continue to tell their story and inspire and influence young women to love their bodies.
Lessons for Others
Social media offers an incredible opportunity to connect with and to influence customers. This hashtag campaign has created a lot of buzz around the world and has gained so much positive feedback. What Aerie did was not necessarily difficult, if anything they saved time and money that they would have wasted on retouching the images. They used the original photos of models of all shapes and sizes who are representing this company, helping young women feel comfortable in their bodies. With this social media marketing campaign, they thought about what their customers really want and Aerie will continue to promote natural beauty and helping women feel comfortable in their own skin.
Industry: Retail / Online Retail
Name of Organization Contact: Jay L. Schottenstein, CEO
Authored by: Maria Enache
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