Teen retailer Aeropostale has been struggling to stay relevant and profitable. As young shoppers flock to fast-fashion giants like H&M and Forever21, Aeropostale has lost nearly 65% of its value over the past year. Rated “Average” in last year’s Digital IQ Index: Specialty Retail, Aeropostale recently unveiled a massive re-brand with social media as a linchpin of its strategy.

Screenshot 2014-08-19 12.12.29Earlier this year, Aeropostale tapped YouTube phenomenon Bethany Mota to design a capsule collection and serve as a brand ambassador. Mota has nearly seven million subscribers (more than Beyoncé) on her eponymous YouTube channel, and several million each on Instagram and Twitter. Mota rose to Internet fame posting “haul videos,” the burgeoning genre where shoppers turn to YouTube to share new purchases. The partnership with Mota allows Aeropostale to leverage the mega-influencer’s huge fan base on YouTube. For instance, Aeropostale’s YouTube uploads featuring Mota garner approximately 690,000 views on average versus the 35,000 average views for regular brand videos.

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Aeropostale has also been relying on mobile initiatives, including SMS, Twitter and Instagram to create buzz surrounding the re-brand. This focus is well placed, as Venture Beat reported that text message marketing has an open rate of 98% (versus 22% for emails). Offers via text are also redeemed eight times more frequently than those emailed. The focus on mobile reflects shifting consumer habits and media spending. The L2 Mobile & Tablet study reported that as time spent on smartphones has increased 237% in the US since 2010, digital ad spending has also increased, with mobile ad spending projected to comprise 40% of total digital spend by 2015.

Aeropostale’s new initiatives reflect the importance of digital competence in the highly competitive retail space. For more insight look for the L2 Digital IQ: Specialty Retail, out in September.

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