Written by: Lexi Popich, SAS for Thorp School District
O Bag online USA is an official O bag brand online store that sells trendy bags, watches, bracelets and accessories. According to their website, “The O bag brand was established in Italy in 2009 (as Full Spot) by a vibrant and experienced group of extraordinarily innovative individuals who sought to create colorful and quirky fashion accessories that would be highly personalizable and unique. Our Italian designed fashion accessories are customizable, all of our bags and watches can be mixed and matched to suit an outfit, preference, or mood on the day and so each component is available separately. The brand aim is to give our customers greater freedom to express themselves through what they wear and to accessorise in a distinctive and ever changing way. The perfect marriage of form and function explains our cult following. There are O bag brand stores in over 55 countries and 140 in Italy alone.” (obagonline.us).
It is apparent through this description that as a company, O Bag values the individuality of each of their customers and they strive to create a freedom for their customers to express themselves through their products. It also apparent that the online US store is just a fraction of the whole company because the European marketplace has an increased awareness of the brand since it originated in Italy. According to their website, there are only five physical O Bag stores in the United States and they are located in Washington DC, Miami, Baton Rouge, Natick, and Burlington (obagonline.us).
Review of Digital Tools
At first glance, the website is visually appealing and has a rotating slide show with photos of the O Bags and other accessories, but when the home page is scrolled down there is an influx of information that creates an overwhelming and busy feel. Despite the somewhat scattered and overwhelming home page, the website provides a pertinent amount of information and is easy to navigate. The website provides a sufficient amount of tabs that offer all of the information a customer would need when wanting to either learn more about O Bags or purchase a product. The initial load time of the website is fast and the load time when navigating from page to page is fast as well. In order to attract customers and communicate with them, the website has an email list to subscribe to so customers can learn about upcoming events and product sales.
The official website itself though is hard to find because it does not show up in a Google search, rather a less developed website entitled O Bag Design USA shows up and it looks as though it is the official US O Bag website. This is very confusing to customers, especially because the O Bag Design website is not easy to navigate and it lacks in crucial information about the company and their products. The only way to find the official O Bag US website is through a link on their Facebook page and Instagram page.
Social Media Tools
On the home page of the website there is an icon for their Facebook Page and an icon for their Instagram account, and there is also a link to their Instagram account under the “Info” tab on the website. The pictures they use to promote the O Bags on Instagram are of high quality and are very appealing, but the load time for the page is extremely slow. The pictures they post on their Instagram page get a small amount of likes and they only have 237 followers and they are only following 202 people, and they have only posted 101 times. The first post on their Instagram page is from February 13, 2016, so it seems that their page is relatively new. On average they post about every three to four days and they post on holidays such as Mothers Day and Valentines Day. The tools for Facebook available on their website is a Facebook icon on their home page that links directly to their official Facebook page.
The US O Bag Facebook page only has 39 likes. They post relatively regularly on their page, but the posts rarely get any likes. They link their photos from their Instagram to their Facebook page, so the Facebook page does not show much versatility from the Instagram page. There is not much activity on the Facebook page, which is due to a lack of engagement by the page itself. The reason the Facebook page is not very engaging is because it is the same pictures and posts from the Instagram page, which makes it less interesting and versatile. The tools for the Instagram page include an icon on the home page and another link to their Instagram page under the “Info” tab on the website.
The O Bag US website aligns with their goal to give their customers freedom to match their accessories with their mood or personality because it provides the option for customers to purchase any of their products online.
Their social media tactics need to be more refined for the US O Bag pages because they do not have a lot of followers and they do not post different and innovating posts on either platform. Their social media presence does not align with their brand aim of being an innovating and versatile company.
A recent article describes the necessity for online stores to have an established social media presence because in society today, people want to know about a product or brand before they purchase it, and the way that most people do that is through social media. The article states, “Over the past years, due to the global economic crisis and the access to information, people became more aware of what they want and actually need. They became more social, and we can see that they are far more likely to purchase something nowadays if they have some pre-awareness. And the pre-awareness often comes from the experience they have with a brand on social networks or from the friends they have on social networks. For example, a simple share of a product on my Facebook page may influence a friend from my list to try that product because he or she values my opinions and trusts me” (Zorzini).
Another website describes their opinion of O Bag’s market positioning and strategies overall. The website fashionbi.com, which is a data and insights provider in the Fashion and Luxury Industry, defines O Bag’s market positioning as Bridge, which they define as, “The Bridge brands are quite young and characterized by a lack of strength in their image. They still have a long way to go to establish themselves as trendsetters or luxury strongholds. They provide mid-high and high quality products, whose price changes accordingly. The distribution strategy is very different brand by brand, too. The communication strategy is very well established in the national area and they still focus mainly on traditional channels. Nevertheless, they are starting to use the digital ones” (fashionbi). This shows how O Bag strives to use traditional channels of communication, such as print media, to market their brand. This also describes how O Bag is not a well-established brand in the United States because their marketing focus is primarily in Europe and they take a more traditional marketing approach.
Another article explains the importance of social media for new and upcoming online brand retailers, “Whether you have a presence on one of the well-known platforms and/or another niche social network, craft catered messages for each. But, don’t just post to any of these social networks and walk away. There are many tools available to help you manage multiple social network profiles, keep the information up-to-date and continue to communicate with your connections, while providing the social proof needed for people to buy” (Cornell). This shows that O Bag needs to instill a more refined social media strategy in order to create unique posts for each of their social media platforms.
It seems that O Bag’s goal through their social media strategy in the US is to simply share photos of their products with their followers. It does not seem like a main objective for them to use their social media platforms to increase brand awareness or to gain new followers. This may be the case because they are a well-established company in Europe and their main marketing focus is not in the US.
Moving forward, I would recommend that O Bag US increase their social media presence in order to increase brand awareness in the United States. To do this, I would recommend that they post different photos and blurbs on their Facebook page instead of simply using the same photos and captions from their Instagram page. I would also recommend that they use their social media platforms to promote sale items and special promotions that they have for their online products.
They also should create a hash tag specifically for their US social media platforms in order to create a trend. They could also do a promotional event through their Instagram page by encouraging customers to post pictures with their O Bag products and use a specific hash tag, and then the customer with the most likes would win an O Bag item. I would also recommend that they create a position in their US company for a social media account manager and have specific positions for public relations professionals to manage and run their social media pages. Overall, an increase and diversification in their social media use would lead to increased brand awareness and acceptance in the United States.
About O bag. Retrieved from https://fashionbi.com/brands/o-bag/info
Cornell, B. (2011, January 26). 10 Online Strategies for Your Next Product Launch.Mashable. Retrieved from http://mashable.com/2011/01/26/product-launch-web-strategies/#HkNcRBM0.kqb
O bag Online USA. Retrieved from https://www.obagonline.us.com/default.asp
Zorzini, C. (2015, June 2). Top Tips on How to Benefit From Social Media.Ecommerce Platforms. Retrieved from http://ecommerce-platforms.com/ecommerce-selling-advice/social-media-ecommerce-power-social