Bad Data Series- Fashion Café Flops Fantastically

Join us as we analyze memorably misinformed business decisions in our “Bad Data Series.” We’ll explore the many ways the wrong social analytics solution, offering inaccurate insight, could result in brands misunderstanding potential market opportunities. And missing out on category-defining moments in time. Here are the posts in the series:

To continue our series, let’s see how Fashion Café fantastically flopped, and how social analytics could have saved them!

What is Fashion Café and Who Are Those Karens?

Fashion Cafe was an international restaurant chain that was based in New York City which featured fashion models (more on them in a second) and had locations in the United StatesUnited KingdomSouth AfricaMexico, and Spain. London and New York were its main locations.

The concept of it all revolved around fashion, which felt odd to many. “Matt Haig, author of Brand Failures, said that ‘The connection between models and food was not an obvious one, and ‘fashion’ was not a theme that made people feel hungry.’

We can see why that might be . . .

Demonstrating why 'fashion' was not a theme that made people feel hungry

It was supposed to be like Planet Hollywood or The Hard Rock Café. But it was mostly just a disappointment. They believed that customers would walk out with a souvenir from the attached gift shops, including a $28 polyester T-shirt. . . or a $1,500 leather jacket.Fashion Cafe 1500 leather jacket

And the food choices were fairly random and fed the disjointed feel of each place. It was apparently the most frequently consumed item at each location (discomfort and confusion).

The models involved with the Fashion Cafe had some input into the food on the menu.

Most of the food was not highly regarded. There were some fun options for visitors, however, including the Fashion Tarte. 

The Cafe Falls Apart

The women pictured above were said owners – they were the financial backers and the face of the establishment, at least. And the actual founders were Italian brothers/entrepreneurs Tommaso and Francesco Buti.

Tommaso and Francesco were accused (by the models) of stealing. And inevitably, they were charged with multiple counts of wire fraud, stolen property transportation, money laundering and lots more.

It was a bold move by the Buti Brothers, to scam such well known women. It’s important to note: these fashion models weren’t just any models – they were super models, which was a “thing” from that period in time. They were Naomi CampbellElle MacphersonClaudia Schiffer, and Christy Turlington. Or, as a Gen Z would say, “all Karens.”

What’s a Karen? It’s the way Gen Z now refers to the Gen X generation. They’re the Karens. And they want to talk to the manager.

Reality Bites characters

But we’ll address multi-generational intel another day. Back to ways social analytics could have saved Fashion Café from flopping fantastically . . .

Social Insight for a Fashionable Win

There were so many missed opportunities for Fashion Café. Could it have been successful? Who knows? Today, anything can be successful as long a brand/restaurant understands how to connect with its target audience. And assuming that target audience exists. There seems to be one out there for everything though, so finding it is the trick!

And it’s one that NetBase helps brands solve in a variety of ways, including:

Understanding What’s Trending in Real-time

Seeing trending insight can be transformative. It can set a brand on an entirely new path or reinvigorate existing offerings. And it can certainly offer a quick snapshot of what’s trending in a category:

trending insight in fashion categoryThis could have easily alerted them to how disorganized their approach was – and their food.

From there, they could have dug in to the insight to find ways that were working. Or to understand chatter in real-time around things they needed to improve – things their audience was sharing online and that were resonating with other patrons. And that potential patrons were seeing.

exploring real-time chatter from consumers aroound a specific topic or category

Without it, that word of mouth is left to run unchecked. And unfixed. So, whether it’s a fair estimation of your services or not, it becomes part of a brand’s story. And when it’s the loudest voice online, perception becomes reality. That’s scary.

Tracking Demographics

Where was the conversation happening – and what was being said about each location? Because it was wildly different.

understanding where the conversation is happening and what is being said

This should be of particular interest to any establishment that has franchise opportunities. All it takes is one bad actor to go viral and give your whole brand a bad name. Just ask Starbucks (who handled the situation expertly).

Another area is Associated Interests . . .

Understanding the things your target consumers are talking about in relation to your category can offer essential insight around needs and wants. It can also drive ideation and should certainly inform any new promotions.

trending insight around sustainability 

And even if they missed all of that, they could have just watched for spikes or dives in mentions:

mentions, posts, impressions and net sentiment over time

Or set alerts to tell them if/when Net Sentiment fell to a precarious position:

Net Sentiment score

And it likely would have alerted them to the Buti brothers’ transgressions ahead of being scammed. The beauty (and danger for brands) of immediate access to this global consumer audience is how much can be sorted out in a matter of seconds. And how quickly both good and bad news can spread about anything.

But instead, they seem to have let their beauty and success guide them. And although that can work for many things in life, running a restaurant isn’t one of them.

This still happens today, to varying degrees, with brands unaware of Fashion Café style flops happening around them – or about to hit them square in the wallet. There are so many disjointed offerings out there, ripe for a brand’s picking. Ready to help you own a category.

Reach out and we’ll show you how to make online insight work for you!

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