What we can learn from the truly nasty business over at Nasty Gal

Earlier this week, the brilliantly named online botique Nasty Gal filed for bankruptcy protection in a surprising turn of events. It has pretty much escalated at this point, with major outlets carrying the story of the company that started out as more of a trend than a sustained business model. It’s safe to say this announcement still came out of left field considering the progress the company has seen over the last few years. After all, it was just last year that Forbes has estimated that the company crossed 300million in revenue, and it was unthinkable that it could even face issues of solvency, at least not anytime soon.

Growth, Revenue and Success are sometimes mutually exclusive
Over at Vizury, we were intrigued with the general narrative that is the norm for most emerging startups while they hunt for an external windfall ; failure to manage debts, vendors and logistics, poor marketing choices or failure to push on and remaining stagnant.
In Nasty Gal’s case, even a company that raised 65million in venture capital has collapsed, offering a glimpse into the consequences of hasty short term marketing and lack of clarity when it came to picking the right marketing channel to communicate with your user base.
Stay one step ahead of the nasty lawsuits headed your way
Last year, Nasty Gal were seemingly left with eggs on their faces after taking to Instagram to announce that a Taylor Swift’s wardrobe for the Billboard Music Awards consisted of one of their Balmain jumpsuits knockoff, before people pointed out that it was the original Balmain that Swift was wearing. However, others identified a clever marketing ploy, as the very knockoffs Nasty Gal was bragging about sold out from their website within hours. Either way, it points to a brand that is not shy to talk about their practice of plagiarizing other brands and trademarked references onto their tees.
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                                                                                 Source: Instagram
This also represented a shift in the mindset. The decision to move away from selling vintage fashion for which they were known for, in favor of more in-the-now designs, seems a bad move in hindsight. Not only was the charm lost, but the lawsuits and general accusations of plagiarism began to pile on.
Right from Hell’s Angels, Chanel, Givenchy, Pamela Love, Moschino and Celine, it appears Nasty Gal has left no stone unturned to make sure they have knockoffs of the industry’s best designs on their site. While mass online retailers do sell these clothes in bulk, very rarely has someone crossed the line for retaining creative artistic design as per the copyright protection so much and so frequently.
Not only were Nasty Gal brash in their approach, they clearly had no strategy to tackle these lawsuits when they eventually arrived.
Pick your marketing channels wisely
While Nasty Gal exploded onto the scene big time through sheer headline grabbing social media presence, they needed something more stable in order to build up a more sustainable customer base. This is especially true of product heavy industries such as fashion e-commerce, where it’s harder to go for a long period of time without turning over sizable profits, unlike a service industry or IT space.
In an age of the consumer being spoilt for choices, businesses need to put in a lot of thought not just into what kind of ads to serve its users but also the channel of choice. Emails, push notifications and social media all have their own appeal, as does the latest trend of re targeting via browser push notifications. The trick is merely to identify the timing and tailor the content in a way that maximizes the potential of the marketing channel in its execution.
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Knowing what channel to use when is the party trick that can be used to turn the goings on around you in marketing devices, generate sales or simply imprint brand memory. An added advantage is possessing the nous to use two of three of these in tandem to amplify the effect of a particular marketing campaign. Emails and browser push notifications, for instance, are a great one-two to use during times of peak shopping such as holiday season. These need meticulous planning as they can backfire and be rendered redundant if used to the point of overkill.
Ultimately though, Nasty Gal’s meteoric rise and equally rapid demise serves as a timely reminder of the traditionally low success rate of startups (even the ones that buck the trend of a slow stable start before the windfall) and significance of a clever consistent marketing strategy for smooth sailing.

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