I’ve rented from Rent the Runway in the past. I have to say that I was quite impressed with the entire experience. I imagine that renting dresses online might not be appealing to many women. However, I think that Rent the Runway goes above and beyond to make the experience as easy and comfortable as possible by incorporating a variety of media showing everyday women using the site.
Users of the site can upload photos of themselves in the clothing and women can list their height, weight and chest size alongside their reviews. This way women can perform find-women-like-me searches, ask questions of the other wearers and choose to see only real-life women rather than models wearing the clothing (Clifford, 2012).
In fact without an in-store experience, the brand must go further than a bricks-and-mortar retailer to ensure that consumers have an enjoyable experience. As we have learned one of the best customer engagement strategies for repeat purchases is personalization.
Two weeks after the rental, Rent the Runway uses personalized target emails in a post-rental email exchange (Galbraith, 2013). During this exchange, consumers are offered promotions to inspire another rental. These emails are personalized through dress size, body type and brands rented during prior rentals (Galbraith, 2013). By leveraging this data set, the consumer is encouraged to browse ten similar dress styles (Galbraith, 2013).
According to a Forbes article, the experience of the consumer is important throughout the rental process (Galbraith, 2013). Due to the apprehensions associated with a rental, Rent the Runway has a team of stylists called Go-To Girls that is available via online chat, email or phone to aid the consumer in selecting the best dress to rent (Galbraith, 2013). Post-sale, Rent the Runway looks at the data of its consumers to better understand their behavior for improved performance in the future (Galbraith, 2013).
One of the keys to Rent the Runway’s success is its use of social media, tapping into its fan base on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Rent the Runway has more than 300,000 fans on Facebook, a platform it uses to start a dialogue with its consumers.
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“Our Facebook page has really become a platform for consumers to share photos of themselves in Rent the Runway dresses and talk about the events they went to and how they styled their particular outfit,” says Fleiss. “Natural dialogue is happening between our consumers,” (Orley, 2012).
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Rent the Runway was one of the early adopters of Pinterest and now has over 25,000 followers, curating collections on 53 boards, including fashion, beauty, photography, and inspirational quotes. “Pinterest allows us to have an editorial voice beyond the world of fashion,” Fleiss says (Orley, 2012). In the image below, Rent the Runway invites customers to pin their favorite styles on a community board.

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Not only is social media a way for Rent the Runway to interact with consumers but it is a critical element of its marketing. Shoppers upload pictures of themselves on social networking platforms where they become marketers for rental site. Below is an examples from the Rent the Runway website. The first image is of the designer gown worn by a model. The second and third images are examples of user generated content on the Rent the Runway website that accompanies almost every item. The customer feedback serves to engage other customers as well as keep current customers in contact with the brand.

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Clifford, S. (2012, October 12). High Fashion, No Airbrushing, The New York Times. Retrieved on October 10, 2015 from: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/20/business/rent-the-runway-uses-real-women-to-market-high-fashion.html?_r=0

Galbraith, S. (2013, December 3). The Secret Behind Rent The Runway’s Success, Forbes. Retrieved on October 10, 2015 from: http://www.forbes.com/sites/sashagalbraith/2013/12/03/the-secret-behind-rent-the-runways-success/

Orley, A. (2012, August 16). Rent the Runway Buys Into Social Media, CNBC. Retrieved on October 10, 2015 from: http://www.cnbc.com/id/48687830


2 thoughts on “Rent the Runway builds Influence with Social Media

  1. I’ve been checking out Rent the Runway a lot recently. My brother is getting married in November and I am really not interested in putting another dress in my closet that I will never wear again. RTR offers such a great option for weddings, holiday parties, and events that require a special outfit. Plus, who doesn’t want to wear a designer dress for a fraction of the price.

    Other brands like Gwynnie Bee allow you to rent your whole wardrobe, returning things when you are tired of wearing them or just allowing you to keep your look fresh.

    I think the ability to rent things has become popular at the right time. We see a lot happening with people attempting to own fewer things, live in smaller spaces, and just be more conscious about what they spend money on. Rentals help keep the clutter to a minimum, plus there are just some things that we don’t need to have around forever. A friend of mine had to attend a wedding when she was pregnant and rented her dress because who needs a fancy pregnancy dress for their whole lives? Personally, I have rented a few of my text books from Amazon for the IMC program. It is such a great feeling to end the semester and send the book away, rather than having it become outdated and obsolete on my bookshelf.

    Sometimes owning something for a short time just makes the most sense.


  2. Hi Kimberly,
    What I really love about these fashion rental programs is how they invite you into a fashion forward community. It’s not just a clothing service, it’s a community of like minded individuals. Many participants appreciate the help of the other users with fit comments and reviews. In turn they want to help others by adding their own comments.

    I also think that you are right about people wanting to own fewer things. Thanks for sharing here.


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