TrunkClub Personal Styling Subscription

Let’s Get Personal

How a human touch helps online subscription clothing brands capture more of a growing category

By Hillery Kemp, Brand Strategist

To spruce up my spring wardrobe without the agony of spending a Saturday at the mall or combing the web for my size and style, I test drove Trunk Club and Stitch Fix, two ambitious brands leading the booming personalized online subscription clothing market. Although personal styling is not a new concept if you’re rich and famous, countless options for personalized online clothing subscriptions have sprouted up in recent years.

In what is quickly becoming a more commoditized category, how are niche online companies like Trunk Club and Stitch Fix leveraging brand experiences to capture more preference among fickle consumers? I took a closer look at how each company provides value across the three key aspects of a strong brand:

1)    Get to know your audience
2)    Surprise and delight
3)    Create ongoing engagement

Get to Know Me

Knowing that time is at a premium for it’s on-the-go female audience, StitchFix employs an easy and interactive questionnaire to better understand users’ sizing, style preferences and budget. Within ten to fifteen minutes, I was ready to receive my first “fix.”

Dialogue_2015_Personal-Styling-Brands_caption-1 StitchFix gets to know its customers via an algorithmic questionnaire that’s simple. Source: StitchFix.com

Nordstrom-owned Trunk Club, on the other hand, relies on a small army of stylists to discern the tastes, budget, and size preferences of its new members who expect a greater level of customer service. After a simple sign-up, a stylist personally emailed me, giving a face to the brand and offering a direct and authentic connection between company and consumer.

Takeaway: Employ ways to get to know your audience on their terms.

Surprise and Delight Me

StitchFix curated and delivered a personalized package of five hand-picked clothing items based on my questionnaire responses. Without a preview of what would be included in the “fix,” there was a degree of suspense—and ultimately, surprise—when the package arrived.

Dialogue_2015_Personal-Styling-Brands_caption-2There are over 8,000 Trunk Club unboxing videos on Google, a testament to how unique this experience is for members.

Trunk Club sidesteps the element of surprise in its effort to help members find their perfect wardrobe. Instead, I was allowed to preview the contents of the trunk before it arrived. There’s still plenty of delight, though, upon unboxing. The brand has carefully thought out each detail of the experience —from the trunk-like box itself to the artfully tissue-wrapped items inside.

Takeaway: Determine at what point customers want to be delighted or surprised and follow through with an experience they will want to share with others.

Keep Me Wanting More

Both StitchFix and Trunk Club make the purchase and return process painless through simple online prompting and prepaid return packaging. StitchFix relies on automated marketing efforts to maintain ongoing contact while Trunk Club stylists reach out for additional feedback to prepare future trunk deliveries.

Dialogue_2015_Personal-Styling-Brands_caption-3bConvenient email updates from StitchFix make it easy to schedule your next “fix”.

Takeaway: Make every interaction as enjoyable and effortless as possible for customers.

Remember: It’s Called Personal Styling for a Reason

As niche categories like online clothing subscriptions move toward saturation, successful brands will take the extra steps to deliver value at every opportunity for customers. Both StitchFix and Trunk Club know how to provide simple and efficient shopping experiences for members, but which brand came out on top?

Dialogue_2015_Personal-Styling-Brands_caption-4aTrunk Club stylists are available at every step of the experience to help members find the right threads. Source: TrunkClub.com

Trunk Club recognizes the role of human interaction in providing truly “effortless” online personal styling. The 100+ real stylists that serve as the face of the brand arguably do the better job of getting to know, delighting and maintaining meaningful ongoing engagement with members. And after five trunk deliveries, it just may be the personalized, multi-faceted engagement, and not just any old algorithm, that will take a brand further.

Whether or not I need all the new threads is a different story…