Recently, I’ve noticed that ASOS has been receiving even more praise on social media than usual, largely due to shoppers cottoning on to the brand’s increasingly diverse and inclusive attitude. 

So, here’s more on what ASOS has been doing, and why it’s helping to boost the retailer’s reputation and build better relationships with consumers.

Promoting different body types 

There seems to have been a surge in brands shouting about their stance on inclusivity of late. From L’Oréal to Dove, we’ve also seen many deliberately put diversity at the heart of their campaigns, featuring models of all sizes, genders, and ages. 

However, as a result of this sudden push for inclusivity, some brands have been accused of jumping on the bandwagon – using diversity purely for marketing purposes rather than incorporating it into each and every part of their business.

Take L’Oréal featuring older women in big marketing campaigns, for example, but only if they’re prominent celebrities of course. There’s also Barbie, which introduced ‘curvy’ and ‘petite’ toys in response to accusations of gender stereotyping – arguably a case of damage-control rather than moving with the times.

Instead of merely championing diversity (or claiming to), however, ASOS has been subtly taking steps to genuinely challenge norms within the fashion industry. 

Recently, a number of Twitter users started noticing ASOS using different-sized models to showcase how items might look on different body types.

While ASOS didn’t make a big deal about the initiative, it did release a statement to Cosmopolitan confirming that it was rolling out this feature in its app, as well as using AR technology “so customers can get a better sense of how something might fit their body shape”.

There are a number of reasons why consumers are delighted at the news. First and foremost, many have applauded ASOS for breaking down stereotypes, and portraying the reality of different body types (rather than the ideal often perpetuated by the fashion industry). 

Secondly, the AR tech provides real value for shoppers, helping them to gain a better idea of how items will actually look instead of guessing based on a standard size eight model.

It’s worth noting that the technology superimposes items using AR – meaning that there could be real-life differences in fit) – however, it still provides shoppers with increased reassurance, as well as potentially helping to reduce the amount of returns for the retailer.

Championing genderless beauty

In 2016, L’Oréal’s included a male blogger and make-up artist in its #YoursTruly campaign, while Maybelline New York featured Manny Gutierrez as its first male ambassador. 

Although this shows that beauty brands are keen to acknowledge different genders in campaigns, women are still very much top-of-mind when it comes to how products are created, promoted, and sold. You’ve only got to look at Maybelline’s Instagram feed to see this.

Maybelline Instagram

(Maybelline’s Instagram)

In contrast, ASOS’s new make-up line (part of its newly launched Face & Body beauty sections), is deliberately designed to be gender-neutral. Its marketing campaign – which used the tagline ‘go play’ – featured models of different genders and ethnicities wearing make-up in creative ways. 

The emphasis is on self-expression rather than unattainable standards, with the idea being that make-up can and should be used by anyone for whatever reason they see fit.

ASOS’s Instagram feed reflects this notion, with the retailer often depicting diversity regardless of the type of product it is promoting. This even extends to decisions on design and layout of the website, such as a having a dedicated make-up category on the men’s section as well as the women’s. It’s a subtle decision, but something certainly not seen on most ecommerce websites (where ‘men’s grooming’ is the standard). 

(ASOS Instagram)

Similarly, ASOS has a firm stance against airbrushing, instead promising that it “does not artificially adjust photographs of models to change their appearance”. This means that it often uses images of women with stretch marks, cellulite, and other so-called ‘imperfections’. 

Defining the new normal

ASOS’s commitment to diversity and inclusivity stands out among brands with a similar mind-set.

One of the main reasons is that it does not shout about it. There’s no sense of it doing it to make a splash or even be different. Instead, it showcases reality – people of all shapes, sizes, sexualities, backgrounds, and genders – in a natural and understated way. 

Earlier this year, ASOS also featured a disabled model in the campaign for its Activewear sports range. Again, it didn’t make a song and dance of it, even refusing to comment on the decision when it was picked up by the media. This exemplifies ASOS’s attitude on the matter, i.e. that it is perfectly normal, therefore doesn’t require an explanation.

Of course, people have noticed these subtle changes in the retailer’s promotions, leading to an increased appreciation and respect for the brand.

From general sentiment on Twitter, it also seems as though this attitude is encouraging more people to buy, with shoppers delighting in being able to see people who look like they do online. 

Finally, there’s the sense that ASOS is setting the bar for inclusivity in the fashion industry, as well as for brands in general.

In comparison to the likes of Topshop and Zara – where a six-foot, size six model sets the standard for ‘normality’ – it’s no surprise that more people than ever are happy to conform to ASOS’s relatable brand of ‘weird’.

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