After 15 years of toiling in the Market Research industry for major corporations in the Toronto area, Mustafa Khaliq decided that the 9 to 5 grind just wasn’t for him. Rather than looking for another job out in his industry, he did notice (in the mirror of course) that he possessed a gift, and that was the gift of Men’s fashion flare. Usually you can see him walking the streets or sitting in a restaurant in his slim-fit patterned shirts, rocking some neon coloured socks with a set of pastel flavoured glasses adorning his always clean-cut head. With that, a lot of his closest confidantes suggested that he offer his ideas and ‘Muse-like’ creativity to the world of Men.
“I’m my own best billboard. Men, generally appreciate looking good, it’s just that, its not a priority.” – Mustafa Khaliq
In 2013, Mustafa set up a small consulting business called Style Counsel that helped men acquire the guidance in bringing their clothing game to the next level. With Mustafa’s love of discovering new and chic items that men could incorporate into their wardrobe, the service he was offering started to become popular as did the fashion industry for this particular demographic.
The global market for men’s designer apparel is projected to reach nearly $33 billion in 2020, up 14 percent from $29 billion in 2015, according to Euromonitor International. ~ Business of Fashion
Offering a consulting service to help men with their shopping needs and fashion sense however, just wasn’t enough for Mustafa. He knew that men – especially ones in fields of professions that required a look of utmost sharpness – just didn’t have the time anymore to shop store to store to gather products and ensure what is right or wrong for them. So in 2014, along with his partner Mike Mossallem, a new idea was born to provide menfolk the products they need packaged up and sent to you directly without all the hassle. Items such as laptop bags, ties, bowties, shirts etc were neatly put into a kit, displayed online and marketed so clients can customize and choose whatever they require.
Viktor & Muse being only just a month old really needed to engage their social media prowess to get their marketing engine going and we sat down with the founder of V&M Mustafa Khaliq to get his take on the challenges he has to face in such a tough competitive environment. Marketing in social media has become such a key ingredient in brand and product awareness that a report published by Texas Tech University shows that brands who engage on social media channels enjoy higher loyalty from their customers.
With any new business, there are always the initial challenges that face them. From a social media perspective, how to market, when to market and whom to market are questions always at the forefront. With such a lucrative competitive atmosphere as mentioned earlier it is very difficult to find methods on how to be different and eye-catching to the end-user. Brand Awareness is very important in planting the seed into the minds of the market as there are so many other avenues to take already. What Viktor & Muse needed to do was be innovative that would stand out from the crowd.
Other challenges were related to the shopper itself. How to target that market that would actually lead to sales? Who are the ones conscious of style and who are those individuals that are stressed for time? On top of all that, another question lingers is who is actually doing the shopping for the men in the households? Forbes magazine once stated:
In addition to buying for themselves, women buy on behalf of husbands, partners, kids, colleagues, adult children, friends, relatives, elderly parents, in-laws, their businesses and even their kids’ friends, to name just a few. – Brigitte Brennan (Forbes), Mar 6, 2013
This also possesses a challenge as target ad marketing done via social media usually only targets men, but in this case, women will also have to be added to the marketing strategy and the monumental task in finding them.
With just one month after launching, Mustafa Khaliq and Mike Mosallem, founders of Viktor & Muse have already begun their social media presence with email blasts and have set up a modern looking website along with activity taking place on both Twitter and Facebook. Mustafa has mentioned that he is a big fan of search engine optimization and is utilizing Google Adwords to ensure they get great placement during searches. On top of that, targeting potential sales has to be done creatively and browsing through the popular work environment networking site LinkedIn provides much needed help in that regards.
One of the biggest barriers to new businesses is what sets them apart from the others to attract attention. V&M came up with an effective marketing campaign to not just focus on individual product sales, but also develop kits pictured here that would enable the customer to have a one stop shop of items that are required to boost their confidence on the fashion front. These kits came to fruition from Mustafa following some of the key stages in building a quality Social Media Marketing Model according to Jacquellyn Smith of Forbes Magazine.
1) Determine the best way to connect with prospects: need to determine which space is best for connecting and interacting with them through social media channels.
2) Join a community and create a persona: create a persona that’s likeable and trustworthy within that community
3) Connect: Befriend, follow or connect with individuals with profiles that match your clients’.
4) Build relationships: People share a lot of information, and if you monitor and listen to what they are saying, you will eventually be able to engage in a meaningful conversation with them.
5) Engage in a conversation: Answering questions that are asked and showcasing your expertise at problem solving in a specific area.
As V&M’s social media marketing strategy was mapped out, Mustafa mentions that alienating certain groups is not their Modus Operandi. He wanted to strike that fine balance between Conservative – which is more risk averse – and Modern methods – which is more open and flexible – of marketing on social media. “Being loud and noticeable, but at the same time controlled is what we want to achieve” adds Mustafa. Controversy is something V&M wants to avoid, but at the same time, still stand apart from other companies offering unique menswear and accessories. One such example was a type of overnight bag, men could utilize when they are travelling and engaged the community to give it a name. Some feedback was received that it should be called the “One Night Stand Bag”. Both Mustafa and Mike thought this would not sit well with some of their target market and instead went with something a little more simpler, but still maintaining a a high degree of quality to their product. With that, they opted to call it the “Man Duffle” shown here. Even though they look and feel of their social media presence is modern, such examples like the duffle bag just mentioned display a conservative method of marketing as V&M is just entering into the menswear industry.
Along with this, Mustafa has implemented the use of metrics and data analysis of all things social media into their workflow. Right now, they utilize Squarespace which provides the data from their current website and will be transitioning towards Google Analytics.
With Mustafa’s real-world experience in the Marketing industry and his many years consulting in men’s fashion with his Style Counsel brand, Viktor & Muse’s launch just a month ago has been warmly received thus far. With his partner Mike on board, they both possess that vision to take the men’s fashion industry to higher heights. Their social media presence is still not as aggressive, and with their conservative approach, they don’t yet want to come off as flamboyant and in-your-face, but rather possess an approach that gives that particular man (or woman) a better option.
When talking about innovation and being set apart from the competition, their man-kit gifts have really hit a home run with clients. And they are just not throwing anything into these kits. They are providing items with high quality locally hand-sewn cloth, soft leather and silk with the V&M logo clearly defined on them. While sitting with Mustafa, he displayed some of the ties, pocket squares, tie bars and shoelaces that were very important to the style-conscious man and wants to focus more on these minute details. On top of that, another innovative item provided with every kit was the little known Collar Stays. These pair of small metal sticks don’t look like much, but they make a huge difference as the purpose of the collar stays is to keep the shirt collar in place by adding weight and crispness to an otherwise light and flexible piece of fabric. A very simple novel contraption that plays a huge part in the overall look of the shirt when worn.
Lessons for Others
After sitting down with Mustafa Khaliq – partner and founder of Viktor & Muse, he reiterates the fact that you really need to ensure your social media is always looked after when marketing in the initial stages after launching your business. Standing out and being innovative is one thing, but also need to be conservative and take a controlled approach so as to not hurt the image of the company nor alienate any groups in your target market. Always look to be different and keep that channel for innovation open and don’t just look at the visual ‘retweets’ and ‘likes’, but rather delve deeper by analyzing the metrics of customer engagement. Mustafa does go onto add that social media, even though needs to be controlled, possesses a lot of rules to follow and the first and foremost rule that he follows is “Number one, there are no rules”. Pretty much a good way of saying that you have the full authority as to what direction your social media prowess can take you and you should always try and receive guidance and pay attention to your clientele to receive that appropriate direction in marketing.
Viktor & Muse
Industry: retail, mens, fashion
Name of Organization Contact: Mustafa Khaliq, Founder
Authored by: Safi Habib
If you have concerns as to the accuracy of anything posted on this site, please send your concerns to Peter Carr, Program Director, Social Media for Business Performance.