Ask the expert: Thriving beyond crisis by staying true to brand values

An interview with FARFETCH's Gareth Jones

According to Gareth Jones, Global Chief Marketing Officer at FARFETCH, the brand’s readiness to respond to COVID-19 was etched into its DNA from the very beginning.

While FARFETCH is a well-known luxury fashion platform operating in more than 190 countries today, the company itself was founded in 2007 – just one year before the Great Recession. Forged in crisis, it’s safe to say FARFETCH has learned a thing or two along the way.

“Our language hasn’t needed to change to become COVID-19 specific,” says Jones. “From the top of the business, our commitment is that our communications will reflect our values at all times. So, being open and empathetic from the get-go has meant that continuity and clarity of communications was our primary focus.” Jones points out that the FARFETCH brand stands for empathy that goes way beyond words and translates into meaningful action.

Taking care of (small) business

When COVID-19 struck, FARFETCH featured predominantly small, family-run boutique owners on its homepage, social posts, and even pay-per-click ad copy. For these small businesses, it was lifesaving. “Supporting our boutique partners has always been part of the FARFETCH DNA,” he says. “It felt natural for us to launch the #SupportBoutiques campaign. Given that many of our boutiques were forced to close their physical stores, FARFETCH provided a lifeline for many.”

By putting empathy first and staying true to its values, FARFETCH was able to make a real difference for its struggling partners. “Shining a light on the small business owners whose livelihoods were affected by the crisis allowed us to form an emotional connection with our customers, educate them about FARFETCH’s brand proposition, bring them closer to our mission and give them a tangible way to positively help a community in need.”

Connect a lifeline and raise the bottom line 

To connect with its customers on such a visceral level, language optimization was key for FARFETCH which, according to Jones, “relates to engineering the language you use to have maximum appeal to your customer. Customers are busy, they have lives to lead. As marketers, our job is to use language that resonates quickly.”

For FARFETCH, AI-Powered Copywriting holds particular appeal. “It’s the use of technology to generate compelling language in your brand voice, which learns over time, so the performance of your marketing just gets better and better,” says Jones. With a blending of AI technology and adhering to their brand ideal, FARFETCH has not only continued to thrive amidst a crisis, but is willing to extend a helping hand to its partners along the way.

"The fact that AI technology can generate copy in your brand voice, while sounding like a human, is a powerful combination."

Gareth Jones, FARFETCH

The right look for 2021

Despite the Bain & Co. November prediction that global luxury goods sales were set to drop 23% in 2020, FARFETCH managed to be the right company at the right time. Luxury customers have gotten used to making purchases from the comfort of their home. While they end up buying more athleisure than evening gowns, FARFETCH even provides sophisticated 3D geometry algorithms to make it possible for customers in China to try on a pair of sneakers in the most comprehensive and high-tech way possible.

“At FARFETCH, we’re seeing high levels of customer engagement with record numbers of new customers driving increased year-over-year transactions. Language optimization plays a key role in this consumer journey – generating more opens, clicks, and conversions across the board,” says Jones.

In understanding what their customers want, the secret sauce of 2021 has been all about communicating them in an enticing and very FARFETCH way. Retaining the brand voice remains a most important feature for Jones who says, “On paper, it’s arguably high-risk to entrust AI technology to short-form copy. But it works and it amplifies, rather than compromises the FARFETCH brand voice that is so important to us and our customers. The fact that AI technology can generate copy in your brand voice, while sounding like a human, is a powerful combination.”

Looking for more industry expertise?

Check out the rest of our Ask the Expert series.