2020 was a year of big challenges, and it’s not over yet. But guess what? It never will be. As long as we’re in business, there will be challenges to navigate. Hummingbird is using this space to focus on how big brands have navigated some challenging times, how some have bounced back or gotten ahead with smart branding.
We investigate the four areas of branding that Hummingbird concentrates on with its own clients—strategy, identity, awareness and loyalty. The companies in our series stand out for various aspects of their branding, whether it’s better positioning, a well-defined corporate identity, strong brand awareness, leadership and reputation management… The list goes on, because the possibilities for smart branding are endless. We hope these stories inspire you.
If you’ve ever “borrowed” an outfit from your sister, ever lusted after clothes on someone else, you understand Poshmark’s business model. You want The Look and Poshmark lets you buy it—straight from the fashionista’s closet for a fraction of retail. Poshmark rolls accessibility and affordability into a fun pajama party of a social marketplace that makes everyone happy and a lot of people money (including Poshmark).
The “social” of Poshmark’s marketplace is what makes the business tick. But we think what animates the social is how well Poshmark captures the voice of their customer. Hummingbird talks about this so often with our own clients that we sound like a broken record, but voice of the customer is huge. It works magic for a brand.
“What happens when you mix eBay and Instagram, then add millions of fashionistas eager to shop each other’s closets? You get Poshmark.”The Wall Street Journal
Poshmark’s mission is “to put people at the heart of commerce, empowering everyone to thrive.” Under its brand umbrella, Poshmark is actually many brands—thousands of sellers who function as their own ecommerce stores. Retail within retail, like eBay, Etsy, RealReal and thredUP. But Poshmark has differentiated itself in a number of ways:
An emphasis on mobile. In 2011, Poshmark founders designed its ecommerce experience to live on a mobile app. When other ecommerce sites were just getting started with mobile, Poshmark was way ahead of the curve.
Putting sellers first. Poshmark takes a 20% cut of most sales. In exchange, Poshmark provides marketing advice, sales trends and actionable data in user-friendly reports. Poshmark’s director of PR points out, “We’ve helped Poshmark community members tell their stories in over 150 local TV segments, reaching every nook and cranny of the country.”
Embracing its demographics. Fully 80% of Poshmark customers are Millennials or Gen Z. User experience is focused on social connection (natural for this group), renewal (update your closet as often as you want!) and sustainability, a hot trend in fashion. (Marie Kondo, the darling of tidying up, is a Poshmark partner.)
Social and interactive customer experience. Buyers can question sellers about their items, building relationships and trust; 80% of sales are from repeat shoppers. The “Make an Offer” feature reminds us of satisfying yard-sale haggling. “Meet the Posher” spotlights Poshmark’s closet curators, an upscale idea that reminds us of the days when women visited showrooms to check out the clothes and, if they were lucky, the designer.
“By combining the human connection of physical shopping with the scale, ease, and selection benefits of ecommerce, Poshmark makes buying and selling simple, social, and sustainable.”Poshmark on LinkedIn
Activating the Voice of the Customer
There are two important voices in your business—your brand’s and your customer’s. They should be best friends who share similar interests, who talk often and support each other through thick and thin.
Your brand voice differentiates your business and reflects its personality, emotions you want to elicit and… your customers. Who are they? What language do they use? What do they think about your brand? Your business needs these insights from your customers so you can speak with their voice in your messaging.
Poshmark’s brand voice reflects its social nature: “We are able to differentiate ourselves in the sea of content that our community sees every day by using the voice that came most naturally to us: Poshmark as your BFF.” Your best friend forever uses fun, casual, unstuffy language, lots of emojis and acronyms—just like Poshmark, just like Poshers. Whether messaging happens via social media, on-app interaction or through push notifications, Poshmark speaks fluent voice-of-the-customer:
- You call it Thursday, we call it Friday Eve.
- “You can never have enough shoes,” she thought as she added to cart.
- Don’t stop learning and unlearning. Both are important in your evolution.
- Saturday is for shopping. (Online, and in bed.) (To which an amused Posher replied: “And Sunday! Lol.”)
- #PoshBoss 💓
Through social interactions, Poshmark constantly gathers insights and data to confirm the voice of its customer; it becomes easy to update and adapt messaging on the fly. To customers who fall outside the usual demographics, Poshmark’s voice carries loud and clear. Gen Xers want to be hip and cool, too, and Poshmark speaks to more “mature” customers who like to feel younger through fashion. Why not? Lots of people want The Look; Poshmark’s voice connects with the fashionista in all of us.
Creating a Social Marketplace
Poshmark was born to be social. Shoppers “like” clothes, “follow” sellers and trade comments, much like Instagram, with engagement driving sales. In 2019, Poshmark reported that 87% of items purchased had been liked or had received comments or offers before sale. As Poshmark’s CEO points out, “It’s like if you could indicate your interest in a bunch of items across the mall and suddenly people came to you and said, ‘Hey, would you be interested in buying it for this specific price?’ That’s the kind of shopping experience social commerce creates.”
Every day, active users spend an average of 27 minutes on Poshmark, browsing, shopping and attending Posh Parties (“category-focused virtual events”). Poshmark keeps the party going, drawing shoppers back again and again. Sellers often include handwritten thank-you notes to buyers—who wouldn’t shop again after those warm fuzzies? And now Poshmark has teamed with Snapchat to create a “Mini” shopping platform on Snapchat’s app. It’s a first for Snapchat; it means Poshers can shop and attend Posh Parties without leaving Snapchat.
All that social interaction creates a lot of data points for Poshmark. Which means better-targeted push notifications, better data for sellers and the ability to replicate content that has resonated with customers—or new content that will resonate better.
Building Brand Awareness and Loyalty
In Poshmark’s marketplace, 41% of first-time buyers become sellers within a year, and 31% of first-time sellers become buyers. Either way, they stay in the marketplace with the help of tactics that cultivate brand awareness and loyalty:
Engagement. About four Posh Parties happen every day, boosting the number of active users by 17%… Push notifications personalize Poshers’ experience and wind up on their social media posts, in front of their networks… And a giant online bazaar of shiny objects just makes people want to congregate, chat and become part of the friendly community.
Incentives. Giveaways encourage sellers to list and buyers to buy—offers we’ve gotten include cashback for using Google Pay and “list now” challenges to win $50… Sellers who demonstrate “heart and hustle” can apply for quarterly grants… Poshmark elite users can become Posh Ambassadors and Posh Party hosts, boosting their own brands and sales. Recruiting advocates from within is Poshmark-smart; who better to promote your brand than customers who are succeeding because of you?
Influencers. Poshmark has worked with influencers from the very beginning; beta testers were fashion bloggers in San Francisco. In 2019, the company recruited Serena Williams to its board of directors, telling Poshers: “You can now shop Serena Williams’s style by snagging items straight from her personal closet. The tennis superstar’s wardrobe is packed with iconic looks, including a custom-made Gucci jacket and dresses worn on the red carpet. The best part? Serena is donating all of her proceeds to … a non-profit.”
Poshmark conducts business with sophistication and maintains its branding with innovative genius. The company now includes products for beauty and wellness, kids, pets and home. If you look down an entirely plausible path to the future, Poshmark could become the Amazon of social, sustainable shopping. And if your BFF tells you how wonderful it is, you’ll probably shop there.
“Together, we’ve created a marketplace and community that embraces individuality, provides support, fuels circularity, and encourages dream chasing. Together, we are proving that style can be sustainable and shopping can have a soul. And we’re just getting started.”Poshmark