Stores

How one modern lifestyle store keeps customers engaged online

Oak + Fort’s SVP of Operations discusses full funnel marketing and exploring markets beyond North America.
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Oak and Fort

· 3 min read

Since its inception in 2010, Oak + Fort, the Vancouver-based modern lifestyle brand has relied on word of mouth and savvy social media marketing. Its main selling point that has helped the company survive at a time when many other fast fashion retailers are struggling has been pushing its “attainable luxury.”

Now as the brand has grown to several physical locations in North America, it continues to find ways to keep up with the competition while trying to engage its Gen Z and millennial consumers across a range of marketing and social media platforms.

“As we’re expanding our brick and mortar—which is such a great avenue for us to utilize our stores as just marketing efforts—we’re also looking at a full funnel marketing approach which really consumes a mix of owned, earned, and paid strategies,” Melorin Pouladian, Oak + Fort’s SVP of operations, told Retail Brew, adding that word of mouth has been a pretty savvy strategy for the brand so far. Social media has been another winner for the brand.

“We see growth on the social side through our TikTok as well as our Instagram being the biggest ones—TikTok being a huge area of growth and focus for us,” Pouladian added. “So, when we build our content, we’re really looking at ways that it really lands well for that customer.”

Carly Shapiro, director of Alvarez & Marsal’s Consumer and Retail Group, said focusing on TikTok in particular was a smart strategy, adding that the brand can also try to capitalize on viral fashion trends through influencer partnerships. “Virality is your friend, and having even one style that takes off on TikTok can make your brand with younger consumers,” she told Retail Brew via email.

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But marketing to younger consumers on social media is not the company’s biggest challenge at the moment. Pouladian said that Oak + Fort has really struggled with changes in “seasonality” and climates of some of the markets it is going into within the US. “Figuring out when we’re going to hotter climates and how we can really make sure our assortment really lands for those markets is really where we’re seeing the differentiation between the American and Canadian or international,” she said.

Regardless, that’s not going to deter the retailer, which continues to grow and plans on expanding into markets like Australia and Asia in the future.

“I would say it’s really the tourism that we see in some of the locations that we’re in. Obviously, in Toronto and Vancouver [and] California—those are big tourist locations, so when they have their brand visibility, they’re already shopping there. It’s easy for them to go back home, and shop online. It’s just organic that way,” she explained.

Meanwhile, Shapiro had one piece of advice for the retailer to keep up its growth and survive the competition. “At a slightly higher price point, it’s important for Oak + Fort to position themselves as a more affordable high-end look and brand, one that consumers don’t have to feel guilty about buying,” she told us. “It is vital to not fall into the trap that fast fashion brands like Shein have with regards to environmental and social responsibility.”

Retail news that keeps industry pros in the know

Retail Brew delivers the latest retail industry news and insights surrounding marketing, DTC, and e-commerce to keep leaders and decision-makers up to date.