What Fashion Marketers Need to Consider When Expanding Their Affiliate Programs Internationally | Industry Insights | All MKC Content | ANA

What Fashion Marketers Need to Consider When Expanding Their Affiliate Programs Internationally

By Sean Sewell

As so many companies can attest, affiliate and partner marketing programs can generate tremendous ROI and serve as a core monetization method within a company’s broader portfolio. One way to make the most of this opportunity is to expand such efforts in a multinational capacity. This global orientation is especially useful for the aspirational fashion marketer — namely those inclined to follow the playbook of luxury brands who’ve gone all in on partnership marketing.

So, what do the aspirational need to know when expanding their affiliate programs to new global markets? Let’s take a look at the most important considerations for the fashion brand endeavoring to do so.

How to Gauge When It’s Time to Expand

There are many indicators that can trigger a brand to review its current affiliate efforts and consider opening a partner program in a new market. When considering an expansion, it’s vital that a company’s executive and marketing teams dig into the following topics to gauge true brand and market realities.

  • Competition. Oftentimes, fashion brands are prompted to consider international affiliate program expansion for a simple reason: Their competitors are doing it. However, this reality in and of itself is not sufficient to warrant opening a new partner program. Instead, marketers need to take the time to evaluate how and why their competitors have entered a market — and whether it’s delivering value at the level needed to justify the resources that go into starting and maintaining a new program.

    It's important to tap into tools, like SimilarWeb, that can help you assess referral-based activity in a given region. Even better, it’s worth taking the time to speak to partners themselves that operate within the region to understand market dynamics and how they’re working with other fashion brands.

  • Market Maturity. Looking beyond the basic question of which competitors are operating in a region, fashion marketers also need to assess the maturity of a market’s partner landscape, not only to see if it can drive a return worthy of the investment but also to ensure that the partner base in the region reflects the fashion brand’s go-to-market and brand positioning.

    For example, in countries where affiliate is a less mature discipline, the affiliate activity most likely to drive conversions will be cashback and voucher codes, as these typically are the types of affiliate and partner programs that penetrate a market first. Content partners are typically a feature within more-mature regions. For high-end or luxury fashion brands, entering markets where affiliate programs are less mature and heavily discount-focused might not align with a brand’s goals and image.

    Also, there’s the basic economics of affiliates in the region to consider. Before delving in, it’s vital to understand financial forecasts for a region, while also considering local factors like return rates, shipping, and tax costs (international versus local), and partner payment rates.

    Brand Readiness. Of course, even if an international market is ready for a brand’s affiliate program expansion, that doesn’t mean the brand itself is ready. Before considering new markets, fashion brands need to evaluate their existing programs to ensure they indicate an expansion is the right move. Does the brand have the internal resources to manage such a program, or would it make more sense to employ a partner resource to spearhead and manage the expansion?

    In addition, fashion brands considering an affiliate program expansion should first look at their existing campaigns running in that market. Typically brands already have a digital footprint and are investing across other digital channels within a given region. The level of spend and propensity of conversion online for the consumers they are targeting will provide the data needed to support (or not) affiliate expansion.

International affiliate program expansion represents a tremendous financial opportunity for today’s fashion brands, but selecting the right markets is key. There are several tools and partners available to help fashion brands evaluate opportunities for affiliate program expansion into other markets. Whether marketers choose to take on the task themselves or have a partner manage the process on their behalf, they need to ensure they have access to expertise to help them understand the realities — and potential — of affiliate in a specific region.

The views and opinions expressed are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the ANA or imply endorsement from the ANA.

Sean Sewell is cofounder and SVP GM EMEA at Partnerize.