Can targeting a niche by rebelling against the norm capture mainstream younger lifestages?

Looking at whether fashion retailer Farfetch’s ‘unfollow’ campaign will grab brand promiscuous younger lifestages.

This week, an ad campaign by fashion retailer Farfetch caught my attention. It was yet another aspirational fashion shot, but with the words ‘unfollow’ plastered across it.  The brand aims to ‘embolden customers to express their individuality… and actively think for themselves’ whilst at the same time encouraging them to hashtag the word ‘unfollowers’. It seems slightly ironic don’t you think? The purpose of an ad campaign traditionally being to recruit consumers into a brand and to follow.

However, with Gen Y and Gen X, in mind, there is absolutely a loud group of consumers eager to express their individuality; to be in the know of upcoming trends and whom seemingly rebel against the mainstream. I even sometimes find myself within this group, choosing to avoid chain restaurants to seek out a hidden local gem and I’m delighted when I can share my secret with a good friend.

It seems there’s a definable stage in a brand’s fame where this consumer group lose interest. They have loved it, shouted about it and then the rest of the world begins to discover it. It becomes mainstream. And who would ever want to be mainstream?

In reality though, is this group really all that pioneering and different? Are they really ‘mavens’ or is it merely an image they want to convey?

Farfetch have chosen to communicate a clear, rebellious brand narrative with a hope that these consumers will buy into their values. I wonder if this stance is too blatant or whether there is a disruptive power in their brand narrative that will truly capture these consumers for the long haul. It seems farfetched… but perhaps we are actually just talking about the mainstream. Consumers who like think they are individual yet in reality are just like the next young consumer desiring to be different. If this group is successfully captured through targeting a niche, then hats off. It happened for provocative ‘beer for punks’ brand BrewDog with profits up by 69% last year after putting two fingers up to regulators and standing true to their rebellious values.

It’ll just be amusing to see how many ‘unique’ consumers will buy into Farfetch and ironically become just another follower.


Emma Christie-Miller