Controversial conversations – the social media downfall of fast-fashion brands?

British High Street favourite, Topshop now faces challenges at home as well as overseas as Arcadia fights for survival.  

Elsewhere newer fast fashion players like Boohoo see revenues surge.

Citing a challenging retail environment, and the emergence of online players, Topshop is now closing its US business entirely and downsizing in Europe.  

Maybe* listened to and compared the online conversation created by Topshop against boohoo, and Missguided (both emerging online players), to see what is driving customer behaviour and choice.

The problem

There are three key areas where Topshop has been beaten out by boohoo and Missguided:

  1. The quantity and engagements of posts
  2. The content of posts
  3. And the negative sentiment from followers

In this final of three blogs, we explore the sentiment and perception of Topshop compared against boohoo who have just announced their strong start to the year.

Looking at the detail

Is Topshop giving customers feels?

Topshop has faced fierce criticism for allegedly discriminating against store staff wearing the hijab.

In May there were 3,500 conversations discussing this. As a result, only 46.7% of the content people were posting about Topshop during May was positive. This is demonstrated by the bright red negative spike in sentiment that happened when this statement was made.

"What people are saying about you is more valuable to your business than what you have to say. Customer conversations about you let you know who your customer is, how they feel about you, and what they want from you."

Amy Rountree, Head of Insight at Maybe*

Further to this, the below report highlights the words and phrases most commonly used when people talk about Topshop on social media. Clearly, people were discussing this controversial subject more than the fashions.

What you do matters as much as what you say

Topshop experienced first hand the impact of negative behaviour- their audience wasn’t happy and spoke up.

Increasingly, customers are taking brands to task for not acting in the moral and ethical ways they expect.

Despite seeing success in other ways, boohoo also struggled with an increase in negative content from their shoppers in May. These conversations relate to environmental issues.

As seen below, words like “plastic bags” and “sustainable” affected their negative sentiment score in May.

The key takeaway

Customers are making conscious decisions and choose brands that align with their values. If your brand isn’t perceived positively, take the time to understand why and address those issues directly with customers and then be prepared to walk your talk.

Want to know what light Instagram data sheds?  Stay tuned in, we'll be sharing it soon.

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