How fashion brand American Vintage leveraged Valentine's Day to cement relationships with its top KOLS

Valentine's Day can be a daunting time for consumer brands, with industry giants launching promotional campaigns all over the place. American Vintage met this challenge on a modest budget, yet their results were far from modest. Their secret? A well-executed micro-influencers and nano-influencer strategy, supported by a wealth of valuable data collected through Kolsquare.

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About American Vintage

American Vintage founder Michaël Azoulay was clearly on to something when, inspired by his many trips to the United States, he founded the brand in the edgy southern French city of Marseilles. Having started out with a simple idea to reinvent the one item essential to any wardrobe, the T-Shirt, the French fashion brand has steadily built its success on a blend of Californian cool and South of France flair. The brand’s collections of casual chic pieces invite wearers to reinvent their style on a daily basis through a nuanced color palette and a minimalist, modern style. Some 20 years later, American Vintage is booming, with retail outlets in 19 countries spanning Europe, the US and Asia. 

How American Vintage is leveraging data-driven influencer marketing to grow the brand exponentially

Twenty years into the company’s story, American Vintage is booming, having booked 50% growth over the last decade. Today, the brand employs some 880 staff globally and operates 155 stores in 19 countries spanning Europe, the US and Asia.

“Three years ago, online contributed to 8% of sales, and we've now reached almost 20%. Influence and influencer marketing have made a major contribution to the evolution of our business online,” American Vintage Global Head of Marketing and Communications Benjamin Terrasson says.

The mastermind behind American Vintage’s success in influence, Terrasson laid the foundations for the brand’s influencer marketing strategy more than six years ago, when the market was still in its infancy.

“Kolsquare has helped me a lot internally to scale the business, because it has enabled me to show a lot more data to my CEO and to the board [to demonstrate the impact of influencer marketing],” Terrasson says.
“Tools like Kolsquare, and the professionalization of the industry, have enabled us to demonstrate the growth influence will bring us and the new customers we’re going to be able to attract. It enables us to talk professionally in figures, to set up dashboards and show how influence is a real acquisition lever in its own right.”

In 2024, American Vintage is set to deliver a major international expansion, adding at least 15 new stores across South East Asia and China. An expansion which will be heavily supported by influencer marketing. 

The Campaign: Share the Valentine’s Day love and create a splash on social media amongst AMV’s influencers and audience

The first seasonal event after the heady days of the Christmas / New Year gifting and partying period, Valentine’s Day offers a wonderful opportunity for brands to connect with their influencers and audiences. It is a time when consumers, audiences and influencers — their wallets empty, wardrobes full and New Year sports resolutions well under way —are ready for a mid-winter lift. 

With this in mind, American Vintage decided to use a Valentine’s Day gifting campaign to reconnect with its core influencer pool and share the love outside of a straight-up promotion. 

The brand decided to gift 59 of its favorite nano, macro and micro influencers a beautifully packaged cheese and nibbles platter and bottle of wine that could be shared with loved ones. The primary aim was to thank KOLs for their loyalty and to strengthen relationships with the brand. Any UGC posted by influencers who received the gift would be a secondary— albeit valuable — bonus. 

“This kind of activity, which does not focus on a product or a collection, enables us to strengthen ties and reinforce our long-term relationships, and to reconnect with others. Perennial marketing actions like this are a good opportunity to communicate differently during a particular season. For Valentine's Day, we wanted to celebrate love and sharing, not just as a couple, but with our loved ones. The idea was to convey the brand's values through a special seeding.” American Vintage Press and Digital Relations Manager Angélique Giraud. 

Challenge #1: Strengthen influencer relationships and reinforce the desirability of the brand 

Successful influencer marketing today relies heavily on brands creating strong, authentic, and durable relationships with influencers of all stripes. The value of influencers posting organically about a brand is almost immeasurable (we said ‘almost’, Kolsquare offers countless ways to measure the impact of organic content 😉 ). 

But the competition amongst brands for influencer love is huge. And as audiences become more choosy about who they follow and why, KOLs are wary of the risk of being perceived as publicity machines. 

For this reason, it’s important to find ways to connect with, and activate influencers without being overly pushy. Sharing brand values and bonding over shared loves is crucial to the long term success of any brand’s influencer marketing strategy. And identifying KOLs whose values match the brand’s is the first step. 

Kolsquare’s qualified database of millions ofKOLs allows brands to search and filter for influencers according to interests, location, audience demographics and much more. By sifting through contents posted by individual influencers, American Vintage was able to refine its core pool of nano, micro and macro influencers to include those whose values obviously matched its own. 

“It’s important to spend a lot of time researching and benchmarking influencers and potential activities ahead of time, and sharing ideas to really get the most out of a promotion. Reinforcing personalization and branding is key, as are creating immersive experiences which the whole family can enjoy,” comments Giraud. 

Challenge #2: Integrate influencers and their audiences into the brand’s lifestyle

American Vintage is a brand built on values of making everyday items something special. Redesigning a t-shirt to give it clear, clean lines transforms the mundane into something that is easy to wear, while making its wearer feel special in a way that a run-of-the-mill replica simply does not. 

American Vintage’s influencer pool includes KOLs whose lives outside of social media might often be just like yours or mine. They have families and jobs, battle the traffic to get home and do the last-minute shop for dinner at the local supermarket. 

By sending its partners a surprise basket of gourmet goodies, American Vintage wanted to brighten their Valentine’s Day weekend. To give them a boost that would resonate with their audiences and brand fans.   

“We wanted to immerse them into the brand’s lifestyle by gifting them something that we would love to receive ourselves. The idea was to encourage positive reactions, create emotions, reinforce our positioning and generate publications to affirm our digital presence and provide visibility for our points of sale.” Angélique Giraud, Press and Digital Relations Manager 

The Results: Talk about Wow!

The American Vintage Valentine’s Day influencer campaign ran over three days, generating a whopping €49.8K EMV and 976K impressions from a target influencer pool of just under 60 influencer recipients and 49 total contents. 

Even more impressive, however, was the level of brand goodwill generated. 

“I was surprised by the amount of positive reactions that we received directly from influencers but also externally — from their followers, from our followers, from the brand’s head office teams, and our press office, for example. We were thrilled with the coverage on Instagram, as more than half the influencers targeted posted. There were some really great stories. We will definitely repeat this kind of action once or twice a season.” Angélique Giraud, American Vintage Press and Digital Relations Manager
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