From a PrettyLittleThing to a PrettyBigThing

PrettyLittleThing is an accessible direct-to-consumer fashion retail brand that has evolved from being a trend follower to a trendsetter. Fast growth requires a fast-evolving strategy and a media partner that retains a ‘start-up’ spirit and the ability to outmanoeuvre competitors. This is our story.

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BACKGROUND

In 2012, brothers Umar and Adam Kamani found a gap in the market for a fashionable yet affordable online accessories brand. PrettyLittleThing was born. By 2013 they’d expanded into clothing, and we were tasked with driving female teenagers and twentysomethings to their website through TV. 

CHALLENGE

PrettyLittleThing didn’t have big budgets. There wasn’t any VC funding; every pound came from the founders’ pockets. Their closest rival was Missguided - who were spending 5x what we were on ATL media alone. Media investment had to deliver an immediate return – and if it didn’t, it would be pulled.

OPPORTUNITY

Fast growth in fast fashion required a fast-evolving strategy. We couldn’t outspend competitors, but we could outmanoeuvre them. We had to make PrettyLittleThing unmissable. 

APPROACH

Taking an audience-first approach was key – we leveraged first and third-party data to identify where and when our audience would be available to engage with us (and made sure we were unmissable).

We negotiated bespoke deadlines that allowed us to buy at a week’s notice and evolve our strategy on the fly. We bought one spot at a time, identified which drove traffic, and only booked what worked to air again in the following week.

We outmanoeuvred competitors throughout – through testing and learning, flexible buying at speed, using precise targeting and optimising in-campaign. We created a new TV planning model to reignite plateauing response and even convinced Channel 4 to create an extra ad break (just for us). Made in Chelsea delivered results, but we were struggling to overcome clash rules. So, we negotiated with Channel 4 to create an extra ad break - a 30” solus slot at the end of every episode, exclusive to PrettyLittleThing.

Over time the role of communications evolved from harvesting demand to creating brand associations – aligning PrettyLittleThing’s behaviour with that of their customers – ultimately elevating the brand into a household name. We invested in the programmes that had got the nation talking, using linear TV and video-on-demand to amplify reach and complement social activity.

PrettyLittleThing’s marketing and media activity forged a synergistic relationship. In some cases, art imitated life. Stars from high performing shows (TOWIE, Keeping Up with the Kardashians and Love Island) subsequently became PrettyLittleThing ambassadors. As PrettyLittleThing evolved from a trend follower to anticipator, to trendsetter, our media strategy developed from chasing response to driving associations, to making PrettyLittleThing a household name.

(PRETTY BIG) RESULTS

We searched for our audience, and now they search for us. In 2018 PrettyLittleThing overtook Missguided’s share of search - something we had been working towards since 2014. Today, PrettyLittleThing has 5m active customers. That’s 40x the number they had when we began working together.

They’ve been named the fastest growing online fashion retailer in the world, collaborated with some of the most recognised names on the planet and even non-associated celebs are wearing PrettyLittleThing branded clothes.

Despite having established PrettyLittleThing as a serious player, we’ve retained the start-up spirit and still outmanoeuvre higher spending competitors by accessing premium positions at no extra cost (even in the busiest times of the year).

We’re incredibly proud of creating and delivering this long-term strategy, which we were recognised for at the 2019 Media Week awards.

The Specialist Works

The Specialist Works is an independent marketing services group with an extraordinary portfolio of propositions. Each built to give growth-minded marketers an unparalleled competitive advantage and help them achieve their ambitious business goals. By combining data, media, creative, and partner solutions in novel ways, we do the specialist work that unlocks more possibilities for growth-minded brands.

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