Saturday, July 16, 2011

Social media attack: what David Jones should have done

    Posted in Fashion » Fashion Blog » Fashion Industry » Fashion Marketing and PR Blog

    Putting it mildly, this hasn't been a great week for Australian department store David Jones. There was the profit downgrade, followed by a slump in the company's value on the Australian stock market, and then there was the social media attack directed against them that followed. The social media attack wasn't, however, directly related to their profit nor value downturns, but rather related to the comments from the company's CEO as to the root cause of David Jones' problems. In short, David Jones' CEO Paul Zahra shifted the blame of the problems from the company itself to the economic uncertainty in Australia. Of course, any Australian high street retailer doing it tough in the current market has more than the economy to blame: they suddenly have unprecedented competition courtesy of online retail; but the truth of the matter is that there is a down turn in consumer confidence in Australia, one that is impacting upon David Jones.

    Those behind the social media outcry were having none of it, and many took to Facebook and Twitter to vent their opinion (or anger, as it often seemed to be the case). Some comments were consumer focussed and cited poor service or high prices, others were politically motivated. What was most striking about the latter was the common language, the common rare phrases and names. While inconclusive, it did make the outcry appear to be a concentrated attack against the retailer in a very public forum.

    Campaigning against a retailer is nothing, but it's largely been an in-person activity. But with the growth of social media it's going to slowly transition online. So what should David Jones have done to respond? And what should other stores learn from it - after all, any retailer that has a large profile is one day going to be attacked as well.

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