This article was contributed by Nick Veneris, Marketing Manager @ Refersion
Lockdowns and stay-at-home orders have definitely changed the economic landscape. Advertisers have had to change tactics to follow these trends, and influencer marketing is no different. With events being canceled and budgets being tightened, how is influencer marketing poised to survive the shift? One of the key benefits of working with influencers is how they can react to new market conditions.
Since influencer marketing is based on a relationship with the customer, this type of affiliate is particularly sensitive to the needs of the customer. A few influencers made an awkward transition by tactlessly promoting products with pandemic-related hashtags, but most quickly pivoted their approach to meet the needs of the consumer.
DIY content is particularly suited to staying at home, both for the influencer and the consumer. Home craft projects, new ways to use common items, and in-home activities are the new basis for marketing when everyone is confined to their homes. Influencers will need to maintain this new perspective as audience expectations evolve in the aftermath.
Influencers have a direct line to their followers. They can relate to them on a more basic level than can a company, demonstrating in a personal way how the products and services offered can change their lives for the better.
Influencers aren't immune from stay-at-home orders. They may have different accommodations from some of their followers, but can still relate to cabin fever, getting knocked off the gym routine, and having screaming toddlers running about.
Being real people, influencers can stand with their followers and relate to their struggles. They're people stuck at home just like we are. As they put their creativity to use, they are helping their followers solve problems and stay connected to the world at large. Virtual events, community chats, and Q&A can all make communities come closer together when many people feel far apart.
How are influencers adapting?
By changing both their content and approach to fit the current circumstances, influencers are adjusting to the new normal. By focusing on more live-streaming and interacting directly with their viewers, influencers are connecting more directly with their audience than ever before.
As people become more jaded about marketing tactics, only the most genuine avenues remain effective. Personal testimonies, product reviews, conferences, and tutorials are gaining traction as stay-home activities for both influencers and their audiences. But these intimate glimpses into the lives of influencers have an added benefit: a sense of things being genuine, instead of perpetually staged.
People want the real deal. Forget slogans, hard sales tactics, and scripted endorsements. Consumers want to know how a product will change their lives. And when their favorite influencer gives them a peek into their lives, and how the brand has impacted them, engagement and conversion rates benefit.
Since the economy has taken a downturn, many consumers have changed their spending habits. Focusing more on necessities or essential supplies as prices change unpredictably can mean less disposable income. Influencers have taken a hit in some realms as their audience changes their spending priorities.
While brands are pulling back on ad spend to keep their business afloat, influencers are having to make do with less. But with everyone stuck at home, people are spending more time interacting with digital media. This shift may never fall back to pre-pandemic levels. Since people have more time to browse their favorite social media outlets, now is the perfect time for new influencers to build their personal brand.
By curating valuable content first, and focusing on sales second, influencers will be able to nourish their communities, strengthening their hold in the industry. Once the lockdowns end and people start to go about business as usual once more, they’ll take those social relationships with them.
So even if you’re not garnering a lot of conversions right now, remember that times are tough. Focus on networking with influencers and fans, building your reach, and improving your content base. Stay relevant to the lives of those who may be hurting economically and don’t drift out of touch with people’s everyday experiences.
Switching to digitalInfluencers can help your company lead the way into the digital revolution. With more and more people curtailing physical interactions, virtual experiences are more important than ever. By integrating with new technologies, you can continue to serve your customer’s needs. That’s why Refersion is such a valuable tool in your influencer marketing efforts. With access to the Marketplace and other tools, our affiliate marketing software will help you succeed along the way. Refersion has what you need to keep your program moving forward. The future of marketing is digital, and we're here to help your company succeed.
Welcome to the World of Virtual Try-ons and Personalized Size Recommendations.
Fitting rooms just went digital…
Apparel retailers are facing unprecedented challenges in a post-COVID world, from temporary store closures during lockdown to the complexities of reopening while providing a safe shopping experience. Curbside pick-up is the new normal, and with fitting rooms often off-limits, trying-on clothes in-store is limited, if not impossible. Customers are also reluctant to touch clothing that others previously handled, resulting in greater dependence on e-commerce and tools that facilitate a frictionless consumer experience in-store and online.
Body data and sizing technology company Bold Metrics has teamed up with virtual try-on company Forma to provide a powerful solution for apparel brands navigating these challenges. The partnership offers retailers instant and photorealistic try-ons paired with accurate size recommendations for consumers to understand how it will fit on their body, whether shopping in-store or online.
Bold Metrics and Forma Announce Partnership to Supercharge the Apparel Industry with Virtual Try-ons and Personalized Size Recommendations
Bold Metrics’ powerful algorithms leverage best-in-class AI technology to predict highly accurate customer body measurements to communicate sizing and fit on a shopper, while Forma’s cutting-edge technology creates a photorealistic digital rendering of a person wearing the outfit to virtually try-on the outfit.
“Shopping online from the convenience of your phone or computer is catching up to the journey of visiting a store and trying something in the dressing room. However, it’s harder to build confidence or a personal connection by looking at models that don’t look much like you when online shopping. Forma’s technology brings the delight and personal touch of the dressing room to shoppers in a simple single-photo experience” – Ben Chiang, CEO at Forma
Customers can visualize themselves in their selected outfit by uploading a single front-facing photo and then see which sizes would fit best according to their fit preference by answering 4-6 easy questions, no measuring tape required – boosting purchase confidence when shopping for clothes in the absence of physically trying it on.
Forma’s virtual try-on technology creates a photo-realistic virtualization of the selected piece of clothing on an uploaded image or selfie. Combined with Bold Metrics proprietary size recommendation technology, customers are able to find their best size online according to personal fit and style preferences.
“When a customer is virtually trying-on clothes, they want to know more than a size recommendation; they seek to understand how the clothes are going to fit on their body. Whether it is going to be loose or tight in certain areas, fit preference and sizing communication is a critical component for customers shopping in a digital environment” – Daina Burnes, CEO at Bold Metrics.
As apparel retailers begin to reopen their stores, a lot of questions remain about how to handle fitting rooms and physical try-ons. Bold Metrics and Forma provide a deeply personal shopping experience that shoppers can access from the comfort and safety of their own home – offering customers a way to try clothes digitally and compare sizes to ensure they find their best fit.
Everybody has been impacted by the coronavirus, it’s only a matter of how much. This includes us at Forma, where we’ve had to adjust our strategy at the company level, and learn how to stay productive and sane while staying at home at a personal level. We know that you have been impacted as well, and we hope first and foremost that you and your families are healthy and safe.
While health and safety are the absolute priority in uncertain times like these, some of us have found that work has provided us with something a bit more positive and within our control. In the case that you share this feeling, we’d like to share some of our learnings that might be interesting!
As large numbers of people are asked to stay at home, we’re also seeing a huge increase of interest in virtually trying on clothes. Through our hundreds of merchant partners on Shopify, there have particularly significant jumps in:
We can’t ignore that every business has to adapt somehow, and technology can help. Specialist digital platforms catering to the fashion industry seem set to grow.
Media outlets are all over this already, and Forma’s technology and products have been covered in Vogue, WWD, PopSugar, and Fashionista amongst others as well.
We’re seeing similar interest within our own Forma app as well. Looks like even if people cannot go to malls or stores, their desire to shop and find their style remains!
In case it’s helpful, please see some specific examples below:
Birdy Grey, a young and bold brand focusing on bridesmaid dresses out of Los Angeles. It’s harder for a bride and her bridesmaids to shop together these days. With Forma directly on their website, brides and their bridesmaids can see what they will look like in each dress! We started with a small test to measure purchase conversion rate lift, and after extensive testing confirmed real impact, we’ve rolled out so their shoppers can try on any of their dresses!
Amsale, a leader in the bridal industry as seen in Hollywood (Grey’s Anatomy, 27 Dresses) and on celebrities (Halle Berry, Julia Roberts, Heidi Klum) is based in New York City. They’ve been working on end-to-end shopping experience for the very personal and emotional purchase of a wedding dress, and have seen overwhelming responses to their website-based virtual tryons where brides can easily explore and try on more dresses than they would be able to during an appointment. This builds confidence in finding the perfect dress.
We hope that this has been an interesting break from the pandemic craziness 😌
If you have any ideas about how we can help you with our virtual try on technology, please reach out to us anytime at email@example.com.
Stay safe and take care of each other!
Founders Fund leads Series Seed for further computer vision technology and product development
(San Francisco, January 2020) – Forma has raised $7M in a Series Seed financing from Founders Fund, GSR, founders / executives from YouTube, imgur, Sandbox VR, Polyvore, Roblox, and others to build photorealistic digital identities unconstrained by the physical world. The funds will be used to refine computer vision technology and product development.
Forma’s current products on iOS and Shopify empower users to visualize themselves in any outfit, which previously required physically putting on clothes or merely using imagination. This is a new source of style inspiration for personal exploration, style discussions with friends, or shopping in a world of overwhelming choice; already, Forma has partnered with hundreds of retailers who have increased their shoppers’ confidence and purchase conversion rates by offering digital tryons. Forma believes visualization is a critical component in exploring personal style, and shoppers will soon demand to see themselves in an item before buying online, just like they do offline. In the future, Forma plans to extend their technology to power photorealistic avatars in video games, movies, VR, videoconferences, or anywhere a visual representation is useful in the digital world.
Their proprietary computer vision and graphics technology produces pixel-level photorealism in real-time with regular photos, i.e. no need for special hardware (e.g. 3D cameras), green screens, Photoshopping, or photo stitching. While many have tried this idea over the years, this had been impossible to scale until recent breakthroughs in AI technology (specifically deep learning) and GPU hardware.
Co-founder and CEO Ben Chiang says: “We’re fortunate to partner with long-term investors who believe in building deep technology applied to universal desires. In our case that desire is the exploration of visual identity, which is increasingly shifting to the digital world. While our technology and products are still early, we’ve already seen a strong and broad response from the market, and this funding enables us to continue innovating and refining the experience. We believe that it’s a matter of when, not if everybody will have a digital avatar just like they have Facebook, hopefully powered by Forma!”
“Forma is capitalizing on recent breakthroughs in computer vision to enable anyone to create a photorealistic avatar from a single photo. There is huge demand for this technology in the retail world and beyond,” said Keith Rabois, Partner at Founders Fund.
Forma was founded in San Francisco in October 2017 by co-founders from Uber, Intel, and Stanford, and has raised a total of $12M in funding. They have a small and motivated team from a wide variety of backgrounds and a shared passion for creative problem solving.
About Founders Fund
Founders Fund invests in the world’s most important and valuable companies across all sectors and stages. The firm has been an early backer of some of the most impactful companies of the past decade, including SpaceX, Palantir, Airbnb, Stripe and Facebook. Founders Fund pursues a founder-friendly investment strategy, providing maximum support with minimum interference. For more information, visit www.foundersfund.com.
For more information:
Co-founder + CEO
As we enter the 2020s, what is your style right now? Can you still wear those skinny jeans? What’s the difference between street style and just being lazy? Does athleisure count as fashion?
We were curious what Forma users today liked the most from the 2010s. Perhaps expectedly, some styles really dropped in popularity quickly, while others show more lasting power.
That got us thinking: Which styles from different decades stood stood the test of time and are still relevant as we enter 2020? Below are Forma users’ favorites, grouped by decade. Are they what you expect?
Note: Click to try any of the below outfits on yourself!
This decade’s trends should be familiar to most of you, we’ll have to check back later to see which stood the test of time!
Skinny ties on a slim-fitted light grey gridded suit (thanks Justin Timberlake!):
Women have found ways to make ripped jeans classy!
The hoodie inside jacket with jumper looks good on Tom Holland aka the internet’s boyfriend:
Overalls made a comeback in cutoff form:
And everybody’s favorite superhero is…Deadpool??
Bombastic outfits and futurist dresses like this Met Gala dress show how close we are to becoming the Capitol in The Hunger Games!
Seems like our impression of the 2000s was experimentation with colors and patterns from the 80s...mixed with denim!
This denim jacket mixes pretty well with plaid leggings:
Followed by....a mustard yellow denim jacket with houndstooth shorts. Seeing a pattern here? ;)
Well, our memory of the 90s isn’t great, so it’s helpful if the outfit dates itself:
Wait, so festival wear is just 90s fashion??
Take out the iPhone and iPad and this dude coulda walked out of the 90s:
Our view of the 80s seems more accurate than the 90s somehow!
This A-line leather dress and flowy blouse somehow pull off retro and stylish at the same time
David Bowie and the rest of the 80s seemed to have more patience putting together outfits
What’s more 80s than MTV and Madonna?
Research shows you have 73.8% more fun when wearing neon
The following is a guest post from Okonkwo Azubuike. He love writing and fashion, mostly for himself but sometimes for other people!
Style traditionally refers to the art of self-expression with what you wear. For most, it is a unique identity or a manner with which one may arrange his/her appearance.
It is often used interchangeably with ‘fashion,’ but style is personal, an art of organizing one's appearance. It represents a person, their opinions, their sense of identity. Style is a beautiful blend of how you dress, move, talk, think, and live, what you like and where you come from.
According to Rachel Zoe, a renowned American fashion designer, businesswoman, and writer.
"Style is a way to talk without having to speak."
Style is about understanding yourself, and it evolves along with you. It is eternal; without ends.
What’s my style?
To get to know what style matches you best, you must first understand your body; type and shape.
Like Hubert De Givenchy wrote,
"The dress must follow the body of a woman, not the body following the shape of the dress.”
1. Unique body shape
There are quite a number of body shapes, from pear to apple, hourglass, lean column, and inverted angle body shapes. Even amongst these categories, bodies fall across a spectrum of shapes and sizes.
With recent developments in technology such as augmented reality, you may now virtually try-on clothing to visualize your style. In other words, you can now try before you buy and see the clothes on yourself without driving to the mall and facing the stink eye of the store attendant impatiently awaiting your decision amongst six dresses, or putting down a huge order online and returning all but one item after trying on and rejecting all the others 😊
Because part of style is comfort, understanding your body size/shape will help you choose clothes that will accentuate your best features, hence, boosting your self-confidence. Develop that understanding by trying different silhouettes!
2. Personality fit
To fully understand what style matches you best is to study and understand your personality. Your style of dressing tells your stories; how you think, talk, feel, your lifestyle and values. Your appearance sends messages. It speaks for and about you long before you begin to talk. It is in itself a form of expression.
Understanding what non-verbal cues you intend to project, will go a long way in aiding your future shopping sprees and how individuals address you. After all, human judgment has become an issue of perception and not one of reality.
3. Colors matter
The final way to effectively cap your overall style is to know your colors. What colors speak to you, express your uniqueness and make you feel and look at yourself?
Colors evoke emotions and allow a peep into your personality. The colors you wear can tell others that you are calm, seeking attention, or anything between.
While humans interpret colors differently, it is important to choose a color that blends with your skin and makes you feel like yourself.
Traditionally, contrasting fair skin with darker tones (and vice versa) works as a stunning eye-catcher. However, style can be more nuanced than simple rules, so you may want to try out more varieties to get a direct feeling for what works best for you.
Style should be personal, and most of all, fun. If clothing was solely about utility, then we’d all be wearing the same clothes every day! If your style is personal and fun then you’ll build confidence where you cannot go wrong!
Build your style, it is your signature!
Every year when Halloween comes around, there’s a mix of excitement and anxiety. It’s the year I can be anything I want...but what do I want to be?? It’s a perennial struggle, but breaking it down the costume-picking process makes it less stressful, and dare we say, even fun!
Step 1: Ideation
If you’re anything like, you get stuck right away on the first step of ideation. It’s like a blank canvas or a blinking cursor...where to start??
We’ve found that categories is a good place to start. Do you prioritize being scary, attention-grabbing, comfortable, political, funny, or even...punny? Even if you’re not sure yet, narrowing down to just 2-3 of these helps a lot!
You can also look for sources of inspiration such as Pinterest, Instagram, Google, or Reddit. We’ve found good ideas by looking for people, topics, or even typing ‘halloween’ or ‘costume’ into their search bars. If you want to do something super on trend, you can even look up the top daily searches on Google to see what people are talking about.
Finally, if you’re really desperate, the quickest path to a costume is probably going to a physical store or e-commerce and just buying a ready-made costume. This doesn’t have to be lame (although it can be…), you can always choose a classic and there are some pretty creative costumes online these days too.
Step 2: Visualization
Okay so you have some ideas now, but how do you know if it looks good on you? Back in the day, the only choice was to somehow get the actual costume and put it on, realizing you look ridiculous, and repeating this process until you find one you like (or run out of energy / $$$).
Thanks to technology these days, you can skip a bunch of steps by visualizing your costume digitally! That’s like, literally what we’re doing here at Forma, where we’re slowly digitizing every outfit in the world for anybody to try on, even costumes! You can try costumes that other users have already uploaded, and if you don’t find what you’re looking for, you can even add your own outfit by simply uploading a picture!
You could also use some face swap tools or perhaps try some filters on Instagram / Snap etc. But regardless of what you use, use technology to remove the guesswork and see yourself before committing!
Step 3: 2nd opinion
Now, this is a step that too many of us skip...whether it’s costumes for Halloween, a first date, or a business meeting. Think of somebody who has good style judgment AND is willing to tell you the truth, even (especially!) if the truth hurts. First of all, maybe something you’re not sure of actually looks amazing, and you just need another set of eyes to give you a tiny boost and you’re done! On the flip side, would you rather have somebody you know tell you that you look bad, or would you rather be out there on Halloween and a bunch of people think it without telling you??
And after Halloween is over, you might want to keep this going...at least for special occasions :)
Step 4: Live it
Once you’ve decided, there’s nothing left except to live your costume. So much of your costume (and style overall, while we’re at it) is how the person wears it. Does it really matter what Zendaya wears? Ok, it probably matters a little but what she wears is secondary to her authenticity and owning it.
And if you think that being Zendaya is probably a bit too hard, then forget about other people, you should live your costume and own it because hey, Halloween is supposed to be fun. You have 364 other days in a year to worry about what other people think :)
A couple of months ago, Forma started dabbling in some small scale ads to test how different user groups react to our digital try-on product. We set up a bunch of different campaigns using Facebook’s fancy targeting tools: different countries, age groups, Facebook vs. Instagram, etc. And indeed we saw that the ads performed differently - the beauty of Facebook!
We knew that creative has a large impact on advertising effectiveness (it’s well-researched and documented, including ‘49% of sales lift from advertising is due to creative’ from Nielsen), but as a small startup we didn’t have resources (or expertise) to dedicate to creating fancy advertising videos. So we started with what we had: simple GIFs showing our tech:
Not quite earth-shattering, but this was what we could come up with quickly, and technically speaking it did cover Forma’s unique technology and product. The ads did reasonably well, at least compared to industry benchmarks we’d heard - but the reality was we had no benchmark for ourselves.
Then one night I was having drinks with a college friend of mine, and given he spends millions of dollars on FB per month at his gaming company, I asked him for his feedback. He asked, “Have you tried an iPhone video recording of somebody using your product?” Apparently they paid a top-tier agency 6 figures to create a super high quality ad that they were happy with, and on a whim they recorded a QA engineer playing their game and the latter performed 10x better in ads.
I had heard that creative can make a 10x difference, so we filmed a video of Heather, our partnerships lead, using our app in our office. 10 minutes of inexpert shooting with my iPhone and 15 minutes of inexpert editing in iMovie later, we had our new creative:
We won’t be winning any creative awards with this, but it works: literally changing nothing else, this ad performed Nx better than the previous ad! In our case I would say the new ad is better in demonstrating how our product and tech works than our overly simplified gif above, but it also gives us confidence that we don’t need a big-budget ad for a while.
We think this falls into the broader theme of the importance of authenticity. People are overwhelmed by choices and advertisements in the digital world, but rarely do they come across something honest and real that they can relate to. We see common threads in Instagram/Snap Stories, Tik Tok, and even Hollywood feature films shot entirely on iPhone (Steven Soderbergh’s Unsane) - clearly there’s still a lot of value in high-quality, high-production value creative, but the low-fi iPhone video worked for us. Would it work for you too?
Hello world! We wanted to start our blog by exploring some of the underlying reasons and human desires that motivated various team members to build Forma. While it was obvious to us that visual identity is deeply personal and different for everybody, we see below that even what visual identity itself means also varies with different perspectives!
In the physical world, you are what you were born into. Virtually, you can have many personalities and looks in different online communities. "This is the new world, and in this world, you can be whoever the hell you want."
Computer Vision Researcher
I may not be a typical user. The virtual identity does not mean much to me. Maybe Generation Z is quite different.
In real life, I care about my visual identity such that it reflects my personality. I want to make sure What I wear is proper. For online visual identity, I want it to be able to summarize the current status of me. And it needs to be proper as well.
I think what Forma can help for people like me is to provide material for me to choose in order to have a proper looking online better than any photo I currently have.
I view my visual identity as an ongoing effort to show the outside world the person I feel like I am inside. I want to accentuate my professionalism to investors, energy at work, performance on the basketball court, comfort at home with family. All of those are me, I’m not pretending to be something I’m not - and even if I was, well that is something underlying about me as well.
Authenticity is important to my individuality so people know who I am - so I know who I am. But who I am isn’t simply one-size-fits-all - it varies depending on the setting as above, but also changes over time just as my life changes. That’s what makes my identity unique, a dynamic blend that is different than anybody else in the world.
But this visual identity is in fact limited - by time, money, and access. I can only walk into so many stores or shop online before I’m too tired or run out of money. As a result, what I wear is from 5 brands that are the lowest-risk approximations of my ‘style’. But just as Spotify allowed me to develop a much more nuanced and personal playlist because trying new songs cost me no time or money, I’m excited for Forma to empower me to try on all sorts of styles that I would not have tried otherwise.
I think of visual identity as stretching across the in-person and digital realms. For in-person, it’s the physical, outward appearance of myself - here, I have some control over how I present myself. For digital, there’s a lot more flexibility to shape how others perceive my appearance and demeanor - whether it’s through my avatar’s appearance, the username I pick, the type of pictures I post, who I choose follow, etc.
What I’ve noticed for my online visual identity, is that I tend to pick features that reflect my physical appearance and aspects of my personality. It seems that I’ve consciously and subconsciously decided that my online visual identity is an extension of my overall identity!
As a designer, I’m constantly surrounded by beautiful images and objects, and over the years have really defined my own personal taste across all kinds of visual mediums from clothing styles, to my favorite colors, to photos that capture my feelings. The collection of all these things is what I consider my visual identity. This idea, though, sits mostly in my head, as I rarely fully express my style in my busy day-to-day. I would love to have a space where I can explore and visualize my identity, maybe not as I am living today in real life, but a version of myself truer to my imagination.