Holiday SMS Campaigns for Apparel

Holiday SMS for the apparel vertical

Holiday SMS Campaigns for Apparel

Table of Contents

The State of the Apparel Industry

The apparel market globally has reached $1.9 trillion in sales. That number is hard to digest by itself. But it is only expected to get higher, including an estimated $3 trillion worldwide by 2030. And given apparel’s status as one of the top Christmas gifts, every holiday season is an opportunity to grab market share.

The latest trends in apparel include a growing emphasis on sustainability. You might be surprised to learn that fashion and footwear account for 8.1% of the world’s carbon emissions. In particular, the plastics created by the industry have a devastating effect, with academic estimates pointing to as much as 35% of the primary source microplastics in the oceans coming from synthetic clothing.

Sustainability is a great trend, but one that too few brands have adopted. Just 12.5% of fashion brands have made a pledge to change their manufacturing processes. This number is even more shocking given that this isn’t a promise to reach full sustainability. Brands are simply committing to more sustainability.

Fast-fashion is another trend that we’ve seen have a significant impact on the global shopping landscape. Moving from the catwalks to the stores is a bigger priority for customers who are used to speedy online deliveries. According to the Wall Street Journal, this speed is driven by consumer demand. Today’s apparel consumers will buy an average of 68 garments, wearing each piece only 7 times before getting rid of it. As recently as 1980, consumers bought an average of five times less clothing.

In other words, demand for apparel is in a complex state. Customers want apparel quickly and might not even use it often. Simultaneously, they want sustainable materials and companies who make commitments to the environment. And competition for market share is fierce. With lower click-through-rates for email campaigns, companies in the apparel industry could use a fresh marketing channel.

Notable Apparel Campaigns from the 2019 Holiday Season

The 2019 holiday season saw apparel brands capitalizing on the gifting season. But it also showed the ability of brands to resonate on a sentimental level. Here are some of the notable campaigns from the previous holiday season:


Koio took a creative approach to the holiday season, offering to refresh and clean customers’ existing pairs of Koio sneakers on Black Friday. Customers in certain metropolitan areas like Chicago would even be able to have them cleaned in person. This capped off an intense campaign to kick off the 2019 holiday shopping season. The unusual offering helped them separate themselves from other direct-to-consumer apparel brands.

Calvin Klein

Like any apparel company, Calvin Klein wanted to capitalize on the holiday season’s gift-giving. They did so with an Instagram campaign. As part of the campaign, Calvin Klein targeted Instagram influencers with a holiday party, inspiring them to share CK-related content to their followers. Calvin Klein took full advantage of Instagram product tagging to make sure customers could instantly purchase anything they saw on their feed.

The campaign also emphasized the slogan “#MyCalvins Are Your Calvins,” using the holidays as an opportunity to steer gift shoppers to the Calvin Klein website. CK also posted gift idea videos on its Instagram profile to help people who were in the gift-giving spirit but still hadn’t quite decided on what to buy.


Asos also used video marketing on Instagram to launch a holiday campaign with a unique twist on the emotional feel. That included parodies of the 2004 movie “Love Actually,” with the goal of creating a highly shareable video that would bring more viewers back to its Instagram page.

How Has COVID-19 Changed the Way People Shop For Apparel?

One obvious impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is that people are more likely to shop online when quarantined. That drives up demand at many of the top outlets, which resulted in slower processing times than normal.

But peoples’ buying habits have changed beyond going online. We noticed a few effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on what people are looking for and how companies are fundamentally shifting their business model:

Changes in fashion manufacturing

On-demand fashion and apparel products are highly prized, especially for retail outlets that don’t want surplus inventory.

Competing with local outlets

Big companies may do well with digital offerings during a pandemic. But as the world opens up, there may be more apparel customers who look to patronize their local shops rather than go online, according to CNBC. Customers want to spend money helping local businesses.

Fewer dressing rooms

A growing percentage of people feel uncomfortable with the concept of a dressing room after the COVID-19 pandemic. This is especially true among millennials, who are only comfortable with the idea at a rate of 49%. Many outlets also see window shopping coming back in style, especially in the age of social distancing.

Shifting customer trends

What do customers buy during a pandemic? Comfort, as it turns out—and a lot of it. In fact, sales of pants—all pants—declined 13%, while sales of pajamas surged 143%.

The resale market is an overarching trend in apparel. With more emphasis on sustainability, people are looking for refurbished clothing, or even apparel subscription models that are less wasteful.

In the winter of 2019, the holiday season saw increased emphasis on outerwear that’s comfortable, highlighting a trend towards casual looks. “Fuzzy outerwear,” for example, dominated much of the winter gift-giving season as brands moved away from formal clothes. Expect this trend to continue with shifting habits during the COVID-19 pandemic: people need comfortable clothing they can wear around the house.

How Apparel Brands Might Use SMS for the Holidays

Given what we know about shifting consumer trends and how customers find their apparel these days, how does an SMS holiday campaign fit in?

Exclusivity is a key driver for consumer behavior in any industry. People already on the hunt for great gifts—especially a popular gift like apparel—will gladly sign up for an SMS campaign if it means a discount. This is also an ideal time to capture leads for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, when customers are hunting for discounts.

Many people who buy from apparel outlets during the holidays might turn to that outlet during the rest of the year. Maybe they like the fit, the quality of the fabric, or the sustainability policy of the company manufacturing the product. Either way, the holiday season is an ideal time to use SMS campaigns to upsell products. For example, a purchase made on Black Friday may hook a customer and get them to sign up for a texting campaign.

Email marketing is still a powerful way to drive sales. Many of your customers who have already signed up with your email newsletter for the discounts might not even be aware that you have unique SMS offerings. Send out a holiday email that brings new awareness to your texting campaigns. If you have unique content and incentives via SMS, all the better.

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Apparel Brands Who Are Executing SMS Well

People are always on the hunt for apparel, during the holidays or any other season. But many apparel brands have improved their outreach efforts by infusing SMS into the way they interact with customers. Some of the most powerful examples on this list include companies that look to create a sense of community by involving people in exclusive clubs and offering rewards points. Let’s look at some of the brands who are already executing SMS well:


NanaMacs women’s fashion didn’t have an age-old brand to rely on; it had to build its VIP community from the ground up. NanaMacs infuses its SMS marketing with daily social media updates. For example, users can watch Facebook Live streams in which NanaMacs introduces its latest offerings in real time. Users who follow along can even purchase right from their timelines.

NanaMacs incorporates this with their SMS campaigns by using the SMS platform to remind people when Live streams are about to start. This not only improves the attendance for the streams, but also provides links to the products. Anyone who wants to skip the stream and make a purchase right away is free to do so on their phone.

They find their success by offering limited-time deals and flash sales. Users who aren’t up to date on what’s going on at NanaMacs can miss spectacular deals. This is what motivates people to sign up through the SMS campaign and watch the Live events. People on the lookout for deals have to become active with NanaMacs. And when they are, they’re rewarded with steep discounts.

NanaMacs SMS Example

Diesel Power Gear

Diesel Power Gear is an apparel and accessory brand for the 4x4 lifestyle. Since its apparel belongs in that niche, DPG discovered that it would have some success in creating a community rather than emphasizing a standard campaign-by-campaign strategy.

Diesel Power Gear went above and beyond for its SMS campaigns. Rather than focus on individual products, Diesel Power Gear focuses on social media referrals and text messages. For example, The “Diesel Club” allows people who have signed up for the referral program to get a link via SMS and share it with friends. If those friends make a Diesel Power Gear purchase, it means points that can be directed toward a future purchase.

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This is a creative use of SMS that works all year-round. But it’s especially effective around the holidays. Anyone who knows someone who’s looking to buy a Diesel Power Gear shirt, for example, can send a referral link (obtained via SMS) and earn points. This not only encourages a one-time purchase, but ties brand loyalty back to Diesel Power Gear for both users.

Bad Habit Boutique

Bad Habit Boutique’s emphasis on fashion and apparel includes tie-dye, lake-house apparel, and other outdoor-friendly offerings. Their approach is to leverage social media to get people interested in making their first purchase. The goal: convert more of its social follower base into customers.

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On its Instagram page, Bad Habit Boutique advertises the keyword that users can text in exchange for contest entries and product coupon codes. By offering a 15% discount for first-time purchases, Bad Habit Boutique is consistently looking to bring in new customers with its SMS campaigns. And by making its coupon codes so easy to get, it sets itself up for easy access during the holiday seasons.

Perfectly Priscilla

Perfectly Priscilla features fashionable dresses with an emphasis on the latest in seasonal fashion. This means that the brand is always looking to build a sense of exclusivity for loyal customers. To that end, it uses SMS to invite people into a “club” where they’ll be able to find exclusive deals, availability alerts, and exclusive information on new promotions.

Perfectly Priscilla features a “Curvy Cash” option that promotes rewards for anyone who signs up. For example, following the brand on Instagram results in $2 in Curvy Cash. This is another program that runs year-round, but encourages people to redeem their points during the holidays. It also helps promote a “stickier” brand, because it means that anyone who engages with them on social media or makes a purchase online will have outstanding “Curvy Cash” points to redeem.

Expert Quotes

“It’s like a songwriter creating a hit song. If you build it out great the first time, you’ll be collecting the sales from those flows for years without having to work every day for them.”

“Build your list over the summer while it's cheap and uncompetitive. It also gives you time to figure out how your customers respond to the channel.”

- Jeremy Horowitz, Partner, Messenger Mastermind

"START! And start now. There is no reason to wait. The more you don't know about it, the more your competitors don't know either. Get a head start."

"Respect the ‘inbox.’ Sure, it’s fun to blast offers, but insert some interesting, entertaining, and/or helpful content. And for the love of Pete, be brief.”

- Mitch Tarr, President, ZinMarketing, Inc.

Best Practices for Apparel Brands BFCM 2020

Build a community

Some of the successful SMS marketing campaigns on our list came about as a result of community building. Some brands invited people to join the community for exclusive looks at upcoming deals. Others built it simply with the promise of discounts and other unique advantages. But if you can have a community of loyal buyers in place by Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2020, you’ll find it easier to market your latest offerings come the holiday season.

Set a specific holiday price target

One of the most successful campaigns in Black Friday / Cyber Monday of 2019 was that of NanaMacs, which sent out discount codes for anyone who spent over $300. But the discounts were even steeper for anyone who spent over $400. The result? Six-figure revenue for the brand for a Black Friday campaign alone.

Incentivize your customer growth

Apparel brands that create genuine connections with their audience don’t do so because they’re great at taking. They find ways to give to their customers. Whether that comes through creating a community, creating live videos (as with NanaMacs), or offering discounts, you shouldn’t expect customer participation for nothing.

Create a true “VIP” channel

Drew Nicole Edell, head of LifeCycle Marketing for MuteSix, noted that creating VIP channels via “first dibs” offerings can be an effective way to build community growth. We’ve seen this especially with apparel brands, where brand identity is especially strong.

With a strong community in place by the time the holidays roll around, you’ll have the phone numbers of customers who are ready to do their shopping with your brand.

Kickstart your holiday SMS

BFCM at PostscriptDownload Postscript and get set up with pre-loaded holiday automations for free.

Kaleigh Moore
Written by Kaleigh Moore

Kaleigh Moore is a freelance writer for ecommerce companies.