Brandy Melville: an Instagram Cult or a Lucrative Masterpiece?

Brandy Melville is a candidly Californian apparel brand that embodies scenes of beaches and sunny skies, mixed with beautiful ‘IT’ girls wearing Brandy Melville’s clothes in an effort to target social media crazed teens.

The effort is not wasted, despite solely using Paid, Earned and Owned media to advertise.

The audience ranges from tweens to young adults (8-21 Years old), but the consumers are restricted by a ‘one size fits most’ (which it doesn’t) approach to the majority of clothing. This has been labelled as ‘Fat-phobic’ and a toxic message for young, impressionable girls to see, however the negative online discussion isn’t deterring their existing and growing customer base from purchasing the simply trendy, not overly fashionable garments.

Despite Bandy Melville’s Instagram churning endless pictures of Tall-Tanned-Skinny-Blonde, and mainly white, ‘California Girls’ their US Instagram account has 3.8 million followers (Owned media), 467 thousand tagged posts (Earned media) and 20 interchangeable ‘Brandy Girls’ who are paid to post on their social media and work as market researchers for the brand to get the inside scoop on what girls like them want (Paid media).

The beautiful simplicity of the ‘Brandy Girl’ is that she is perceived as the typical, every-day, girl next door type; Who we either are or know. Creating a completely attainable image that consumers see flooding their Instagram feeds every day, so much so that they blend into the posts of their friends emulating an extremely authentic and organic image; despite the girls being influencers and models, among the market researchers, all having between 1K – 1M followers. For example…

The posting style of ‘Brandy Girls’ is so familiar with the target audience e.g. taking photos in their bedrooms, out eating with friends and at the beach or mall. These seemingly normal pictures evoke a lifestyle that 13-18 year old females tend to fantasies about instead of going to school and doing their homework; Easily enlisting a cult-like-mentality of girls wanting to be like Brandy Girl’s.

This powers the Instagram take over that is Brandy Melville, as admirers of the brand who follow Brandy Girl’s or the official account produce Earned Media, by tagging and hash-tagging the brand in their posts, wearing the clothes and Location tagging purposefully aesthetic whitewashed retail stores. For the consumer this is an attempt to boost their likes, followers and chance of being featured on the account.

The authenticity and familiarity of the post produced by the account and Brandy Girls has managed to withstand the updated algorithm* (2016-2019) that allows individuals and businesses to have a level playing field in reach capabilities. Keeping paid media costs down as rates for influencers are se based on the amount of followers and can be negotiated based on the time of contract.

*Instagram’s updated algorithm changed the order users see posts from chronological to a personalised feed for users that show content that users want to see most, based upon 3 factors:

  • Interest – using past behaviour to predict what type of content you want to see and engage with.

  • Recency – posting when your followers are most active, this can be seen with Instagram Analytics.

  • Relationship – how engaged (liking, following, DM-ing, sharing) the user is with the followers and vice versa.

How frequently users use the app determines how much content they see as new content is shown each time they open the app.

The social media manager, Aprille Balsom has said that Brandy Melville’s Instagram is ‘very lifestyle focused, with an emphasis on the very relaxed and super-chill everyday ’ watching Brandy Girls ‘take photos in their bedrooms, hanging out’. Balsom also noted on the ‘one size’ conception stating that the clothes are supposed to look different on each customer by being moulded to each individuals style. This also works to keep manufacturing costs low, enabling the price point to be lower than competitors ‘Aritzia’.

Some may question the value of Brandy Melville’s Instagram, at first glance you see naturally pretty young women with a ‘super chilled’ lifestyles which consist of going to the beach, shopping and sipping on iced coffees in the sun. But I am here to tell you that using organic and authentic paid media that results in earned media from an army of tweens, teens and young women and owned media in the form of beautifully aesthetic stores, Instagram-looking websites and social media accounts it may just be one of the most lucrative and cost effective business accounts out there.

Author: Georgina Tordoff

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