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How Hugo Boss is using social media to boost its online sales during Covid-19 uncertainty

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Hugo Boss today reported a 66% rise in its online sales in the latest quarter of the financial year – although that could not compensate for store closures and group sales fell by 24%. The brand is now using social media to raise awareness of its brand in new ways.

The brand’s12th consecutive period of double digital ecommerce sales growth came as more shoppers opted to buy online during and following Covid-19 lockdowns and as it expanded its website to 24 new markets over the summer.

The retailer is now putting social media at the heart of its strategy. “To create awareness and strengthen the profile of Boss and Hugo among younger target groups, future brand and marketing initiatives will be centered on emotional events as well as exclusive collaborations with brands and ambassadors,” the brand said in its third-quarter statement today. “Social media will take centre stage, with all communication initiatives built around it.”

For example, the Boss Milan Fashion Week runway show (pictured) was live-streamed on its own website, on Instagram and, for the first time, on TikTok. A brand experience event ran in Shanghai at the same time, streamed on WeChat and T-Mall, with shoppers getting an exclusive 48 hour opportunity buy a limited collection with New York artist and designer Justin Teodoro. The brand has also worked with German fashion influencer Caro Daur and with British boxer Anthony Joshua. 

The update came as Hugo Boss reported group sales of €533m in the third quarter – to the end of September. That’s 24% down on the same time last year. Its own retail sales were down by 20% – with store sales down by 27% and its online sales up by 66%.  Operating profit came in at $15m, down from $83m a year earlier. This represents a strong recovery from second quarter sales, which had fallen by 59% on the previous year, although second quarter ecommerce rose by 74%. 

Sales in mainland China grew by 27% on last time as its economy recovered. Visitors to shops in China were more likely to buy during the period, while online sales also grew by double digits. However sales in Europe fell by 21% as the retail brand felt the absence of tourism – despite local demand in markets including the UK and France. 

Yves Müller, spokesperson for the managing board of Hugo Boss, said: “We made further progress in the recovery of our business, with a great contribution coming from online and mainland China Our profitability returned to positive territory and we even accelerated our strong cash flow generation.

“Further driving the global recovery of our business will remain a key priority for us as we approach year-end. At the same time, we will continue to push ahead with the execution of our strategic initiatives to return to our former growth trajectory.”

Looking ahead, the retailer expects uncertainty to continue among further lockdowns. It will focus online and on China, with social media taking centre stage in its brand awareness campaigns.

Commenting on the figures, Sofie Willmott, content head of apparel at data and analytics business GlobalData, said: “Hugo Boss’s efforts to evolve its product offer despite the uncertainty of trading conditions will ensure it remains desirable and its increasing digital focus will help to boost brand awareness as consumers continue to spend more time online.’’

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