At Condé Nast, Social Sharing Is Always in Style

With virtual focus group Style Society, 'Vogue' mines intel from 2,000 fashion-focused females

From Instagram and Pinterest to Pose, Twitter and Tumblr, the fashion-obsessed flock to social platforms to share everything from daily photos of outfits to random musings about style.

The importance of all that sharing wasn’t lost on Condé Nast, whose magazine brands and advertisers have a major stake in the whims of style-conscious women. That’s why the publisher of Vogue and Glamour sought to harness the power of fashion and social media by creating the Condé Nast Style Society, a virtual focus group serving Condé Nast and its marketing partners.

To populate the Style Society, the company recruited 2,000 women familiar with its brands and who have a heavy interest in fashion. The average member reads five Condé Nast magazines every month and visits four of the company’s websites. Nearly all the women are active users of social media, and more than 350 are bloggers.

The site is a hybrid of message boards, surveys, blog posts and photo galleries designed to spark discussion about assorted style-related topics. Every month, research company Ipsos mines member reviews for data, which is compiled in a newsletter and sent to select advertisers. A recent edition featured member quotes and statistics about online shopping, credit card usage and spring trends.

While some members occasionally receive incentives including gift cards and prints from the Condé Nast archive, most participate simply because they want to swap thoughts and information about fashion with like-minded women and feel they play a role at the magazines, said Gina Bulla, an associate marketing director at Condé Nast who oversees day-to-day activity on Style Society.

Bulla noted that on the Style Society blog Inside Condé Nast, members share a surprising amount of personal information. “It’s amazing that they are taking so much time to respond to these posts,” she said. “Women are even creating relationships with one another on the site.”

Apart from content generated by members and Condé Nast, surveys can be created for advertisers as either part of a larger program or for a negotiated stand-alone rate.

One advertiser, the fashion brand BCBGMAXAZRIA, used the Style Society to unearth information about consumers’ purchase behavior and brand perceptions. Through the partnership, it learned that online purchases of its products were closing in on purchases made in brick-and-mortar stores.

“Having this opportunity to tap into brand perception of our core consumer through a credible, third-party source was very appealing,” said Jennifer Sprague, vp, global marketing at BCBGMAXAZRIA Group.

Some brands have even featured Style Society members in their research and ad campaigns.

The beauty brand Shiseido, for example, surveyed and selected Style Society members to test a line of serums. Their testimonials were then featured in an advertorial published in Vogue and Allure.