In today’s difficult economic climate, the rising cost of living has had a profound impact on consumer buying behavior. Consumers are not only altering their purchasing habits, but they are also changing the way they search for products in order to find the best deals. This shift in consumer behavior highlights the crucial role that search engine optimization (SEO) plays for retailers and brands who want to maximize sales during challenging times.

Google, the leading search engine, has made significant investments in advanced artificial intelligence (AI) technology. This shows that getting search right is crucial for the fashion industry, regardless of the economic climate.

Fashionnetwork.com recently interviewed Louis Venter, the founder and CEO of MediaVision, an expert in SEO. Venter has worked with renowned brands such as New Look, Moss, Karen Millen, JD Williams, and Jacamo. He provided valuable insights into the current environment and the impact on fashion search.

The cost-of-living crisis has prompted the majority of consumers to cut back on non-essential purchases in order to afford necessities. This has resulted in a decline in fashion spending, even for luxury e-tailers who target affluent consumers. However, consumers are still willing to spend, and search plays a critical role in their buying journey.

According to Venter, this challenging environment presents both challenges and opportunities for brands. By understanding how inflation has influenced online search behavior, retailers can adjust their SEO and marketing strategies to capitalize on these changes. For example, during times of economic hardship, consumers are more likely to explore new brands and search for better deals. Retailers who understand these trends can outperform their competitors and weather the storm.

Venter pointed out some significant changes in fashion search behavior, particularly in non-brand fashion searches. Although these searches were previously increasing, there was a decline in October 2022. However, certain fashion categories, such as accessories, experienced an increase in demand. This indicates that consumers are more inclined to purchase lower-priced items to enhance their outfits, rather than investing in new occasionwear. Additionally, consumers are using more specific long-tail keywords to search for the best deals or save money.

The decrease in branded searches has posed a challenge for brands without a strong non-brand organic strategy. They have had to rely on costly paid search ads, which offer a lower return on investment. As a result, paid search has become increasingly competitive.

Aside from the cost-of-living crisis, there are other factors influencing search behavior, such as sustainability and inclusivity. Venter highlighted a shift in search terms related to “plus-size” clothing, which presents an opportunity for retailers. As the conversation around body positivity and inclusivity continues to evolve, retailers can leverage non-branded search terms to gain insights into customer preferences and optimize their SEO strategies.

Staying updated on rapidly evolving search trends is a challenge for retailers. Venter emphasized the importance of being “fast and first” in identifying growth opportunities. MediaVision utilizes a proprietary platform called Metis, which provides their team with weekly search trend data across thousands of fashion categories. This advantage enables them to develop effective SEO strategies and respond to market demand more efficiently.

Analyzing the data is essential for creating new marketing strategies. Venter explained that retailers need to examine the data from two perspectives: prioritizing relevant categories to meet demand and focusing on the right product assortment. Agility and speed are crucial in capitalizing on these trends, and taking a data-driven approach should be a priority in marketing objectives.

Even in challenging economic times, there are opportunities for growth. SEO plays a significant role in driving sales and goes beyond being just a “hygiene factor” for businesses. Adopting a market data-driven approach to marketing and SEO is essential for fashion retailers to make significant progress. By understanding and adapting to changing consumer needs, businesses can keep up with shifting priorities and spending habits, ultimately increasing their chances of success.

Useful Links:
1. Best SEO Practices
2. Beginner’s Guide to SEO