Now more than ever, fashion brands are consistently adding shock products into their collections and runways during fashion weeks. Brands are striving for viral moments which grab your attention, disrupting your feed scrolling session. If one dares to wear it outside you stop and stare while others pull out their phones to capture the moment, only doing more marketing for the brand in return.
We've seen this with the likes of MSCHF and their Big Red Boot, Balenciaga and pretty any of their products, Loewe and their Pixel Hoodie, Botter and their condom gloves plus more.
Every month we can expect to see a new viral product and this pattern seems to see no slowing down. But why is this the case? Why has this tactic gained ground?
Attention is Currency
The current social media world is basically a Battlefield of who can gain the most attention and who can keep it for the longest. It's part of the new age business model: Capture people's attention, Build that audience then sell to them.
Content Marketing is the new META
Brands are increasingly finding that social media ads are becoming more expensive and also more ineffective (The State of Fashion, McKinsey Report 2023). Social media content, partially short-form content, allows for a cheaper and more organic alternative when done correctly. Whether paid or not, publications and fashion pages do the work for these companies by resharing their viral products/moments. Influencers and general Social media users also do their part by engaging with this content whether it's likes, comments, saves or reshares. Typically, wherever brands can cut costs, they will.
It's All in the Funnel
These products aren't designed to get lots of sales, they're made to garner attention and raise awareness for the brand overall. As people check out the brand, they trickle down the funnel which in context means they discover other products by that brand that they might like. This is where a lot of brands make their money, the Shock Products essentially act as the top-of-the-funnel lead magnets to the products they really want to sell. The strategy goes deeper when you factor in brands offering specific product lines categorised by design, pricing and so on.
Should Shock Factor Have a Place in Fashion?
This strategy has of course come with a lot of controversy and split opinions. I feel that a lot of the negative feedback is a misunderstanding as to why brands are doing this. People see this as brands lacking innovation and creativity or fashion going downhill but really, it's just a form of marketing. These products aren't design-centric or optimised for wearability, it's to get your attention and build awareness because today's brands understand, all publicity is good publicity.
What do you think about this strategy? Is it Viable for a brand's longevity?