How brands are using AI to excel in brand collaborations

Behind the Barbie Craze: From Barbie-branded collaborations to pink trend edits, discover how brands rapidly incorporated the aesthetic in their summer pieces

Key takeaways

  • Brand collaborations allow fashion brands to capitalize on key fashion trends like the Barbie aesthetic.

  • While certain brands, like Zara, opted for a broader, trendy product assortment, brands like Gap focused on their classic products, such as sweatshirts and t-shirts.

  • Zara implemented a 30% markup pricing for comparable products in their Barbie collaboration as compared to their regular collection.

How brands are using AI to excel in brand collaborations

Use the Retviews platform to benchmark your offer against your competitors

Looking back at some of the most prominent fashion trends this past summer we have the Barbie aesthetic which took the industry by storm, as its namesake movie became a massive success and fashion brands were able to leverage the hype in their collections. From Barbie-branded collaborations to pink trend edits, brands rapidly incorporated the aesthetic in their summer pieces.  

Considering the considerable influence that collaborations wield in the fashion industry, and their ability to create buzz and tap into new markets, with collections that often sell out in record time, how are leading brands leveraging trends to develop their collaborations? Furthermore, what is the key to nailing collaboration strategies?  

AI-powered data has revolutionized how leading fashion brands strategize and excel in brand collaborations, ultimately giving them a competitive edge. In the current economic climate, there is little room for guesswork and error. Therefore, understanding precisely how the market is executing collaborations in terms of assortment range, pricing structure, marketing initiatives and out of stock rates is crucial in pinpointing the ideal collaboration strategy for your own brand. Lectra’s automated benchmarking platform for fashion brands, Retviews, is helping brands do exactly this and has become a brand’s best ally in optimizing strategies. 


Decoding Real-Time Data Insights

Amid a surge in collaborations across the industry, spanning luxury and sportswear links to mass market brands collaborating with premium brands, knowing how to approach your own collaboration efforts is essential in order to maximize profitability and minimize leftover stock. 

Using AI-driven real-time data allows you to eliminate the guesswork and track when competitors are releasing collaborations and provides an up-close look at exactly what type of pieces are being released, from the category they are found in, to their fabric composition. Automated data allows you to closely follow pricing structures in your competitors’ collections, a crucial factor considering today’s economic slowdown. As brands are releasing collaborations, knowing how to price them in order to maximize sell-through rates and limit leftover stock is key in maximizing margins and limiting unnecessary discounts. Timing is another critical factor here, as the trend cycle is shifting ever more rapidly therefore collections can quickly lose relevancy and leave brands with substantial amounts of inventory. This is precisely where AI benchmarking comes into play.


Accessing the data behind collaboration assortments

Taking the most recent Barbie hype surrounding the movie release, leading mass market brands such as Zara and GAP released Mattel-branded collaborations, and Retviews’ data show the assortment variety found in a collaboration collection, indicating which categories your competitors are opting for in creating their collections. Tailor-made dashboards allow you to monitor specific collections launched by your competitors and enhanced image-labeling enables tracking the smallest details defining a product, thus allowing you to get all the details on your competitors’ assortments. When looking at Barbie collaborations specifically, Retviews’ data show that ZARA integrated its Barbie pieces throughout an extensive number of categories, whereas GAP had a larger focus on more classic categories like t-shirts and sweatshirts.

Lectra Retviews- Barbie Collaboration-  Product Assortment Mix - Collection size Mass Market brands- Gap Bershka Forever 21 Zara AI

Successfully Pricing Collaborations 

When launching a collaboration, pinpointing the right price structure is crucial in maximizing sales and combining with the right product mix, and the right timing ensures optimized profitability for your collection. Are your competitors pricing their collaborations at a higher rate than their regular collection? Whether your brand is collaborating with a brand to tap into a new market or to leverage the latest trend, AI-powered real-time data is key in nailing your strategy. Taking the example of Barbie collaborations, Retviews’ data show that both ZARA and Forever21 opted for a higher average price point in their Barbie collaborations when compared to their regular assortment, increasing the exclusivity factor of the collaboration.  

Lectra Retviews- Barbie Collaboration-  Average Price Comparison for Barbie vs Regular collection - Mass Market brands- Gap Bershka Forever 21 Zara -US Pricing  using AI

From product assortments right down to exact product specificities, Retviews’ image-based recognition and labelling allows you to access every detail regarding a product and in turn, finetune your own strategy. When launching collaborations, brands often release similar if not exact items in collaborations as found in their regular collection, available in new colorways and co-branded for the collaboration. This in turn can be used as an opportunity to increase prices. Thanks to the accuracy of Retviews’ AI-powered data you can track how brands are taking on the pricing for matching products found in both regular and collaborative collections.  

This is an evident element in Zara’s Barbie collaboration, as Retviews’ data has shown that for an identical pair of metallic denim trousers, one pertaining to its regular assortment and one a part of its Barbie Collection there is a 30% higher price point for the Barbie-branded piece. 

Lectra Retviews- Barbie Collaboration- Zara x Barbie Collection Jeans -Metallic Pink Low Rise Jeans-Cotton  Mass Market brand-US Price Dollar empowering AI
Lectra Retviews- Barbie Collaboration- Zara Regular Collection Jeans -Metallic High Rise Jeans-Cotton  Mass Market brand-US Price Dollar empowering AI I

The key to optimizing collection release times 

When developing collaborations, timing is key to release the most relevant collection that you know will sell, at the ideal time, to avoid the hassle and losses resulting from leftover inventory. Retviews’ data allows you track and stay on top of competitors’ marketing activities, including newsletter releases and website changes. How many newsletters did your competitors release to promote their own collaborations? What about leading up to discount season? Access to AI-powered data means you can pinpoint the ideal time to launch campaigns and keep a close eye on what competitors are promoting in their own marketing activities.  

Looking at Barbie collaborations, Retviews’ data show that aside from ZARA and GAP, a multitude of pink trend edits were released around the Barbie movie release, associating their campaigns to the hype, and allowing them to tap into consumer interest. ZARA’s Barbie collaboration was released just before the release of the movie whereas GAP’s campaign was released in May, allowing them to reach their target audience and allow them to leverage the trend ahead of the movie release.  

Lectra Retviews- Barbie Collaboration- SKU History- Zara Regular Collection Jeans -Metallic High Rise Jeans- Zara x Barbie Collection -Pink Metallic Low Rise Jeans cotton  Mass Market brand- AI US

In-season management is another critical factor in your collection’s lifecycle, evaluating inventory, replenishment and in turn pinpointing ideal markdowns for your pieces. Controlling inventory levels is key in finding the balance between having the right stock to meet demand, without being left with excessive unsold inventory which would require additional markdowns. Nailing this mix is essential in maximizing profitability. How are brands keeping track of these stock levels, especially when it comes to collaborations, as trends can be short-lived? Retviews’ AI-driven data allow you to keep track of SKU history on specific products and out of stock rates on your collection as a whole, in real-time, ensuring confident data-based decision-making when evaluating the state of your collection mid-season.  

Data on ZARA’s Barbie Collaboration indicates that the same item that was created for both the regular and barbie collaboration had a lower initial stock amount and sold out rather quickly on three different instances, whereas its regular collection version of the metallic jeans had a larger stock availability to begin with and dipped mid-August without going out of stock.  


The power of AI in staying on top of collaborations 

Collaborations have become an essential part of a brand’s strategy, allowing you to harness the hype around trends and tap into new markets with ease. From timing to stock history and pricing, access to your competitors’ data and being able to compare market data to your own collections does not have to be a time-consuming hassle, as AI-powered benchmarking with Retviews allows you to both ensure you are releasing the most relevant collection, at the right time and the right price as well as track it throughout the season. Barbie collaborations showed to be a valuable representation of trend-oriented collaborations, proving to be a success with regards to the craze around the Greta Gerwig movie, however the question remains, how will trend-oriented collaborations such as this one be discounted at the end of the season? Find out how your own brand can access real-time market data and boost brand performance thanks to Retviews, fashion’s leading automated benchmarking solution.  

Use the Retviews platform to benchmark your offer against your competitors