Forever21 India - A Case Study of Successful Online Reputation Management Through AI Tech & Social Listening on Instagram


In Q4 2019, Forever21 - once a 4.4 billion-dollar retail giant announced global bankruptcy and made the decision to shut down nearly 815 stores in 57 countries across Asia and Europe, shattering the hearts of many loyalist's world-over.

However, Forever21 India, thanks to the strength of Aditya Birla Group funding, remained grounded against the unfolded a series of 2020’s rude global pandemic awakening.

Did the sudden digitalization of human life during lockdown have a consequential upside to the way Forever21 continued to upkeep its online presence?

With the forceful power of AI Tech, automation and ORM team, Forever21 India swerved against the rampant waves of economic destruction that took down many brands in a span of three months.

(Via: Instagram)

F21 India Instagram VS Facebook (Comparative Graph to highlight conversational volume on F21 India Q2: Instagram vs Facebook: Via Locobuzz)

Quarantine VS Forever21 India

In India, a national lockdown was announced toward the end of March in efforts to contain the COVID19 crisis, however, the decision left very little time for businesses and their customers to react or adapt. Forever21 India was no such exception.

  • Orders were stuck in dispatch
  • Refunds were delayed
  • Pickups and deliveries all came to a sudden standstill

With a fully functional website, and a steady inflow of demand rate, Forever21 conducted constant communication go gain a strong foothold and aided brand operations via a robust ORM system

The Locobuzz ORM team kept customers updated through constant communication about operational details, status updates while maintaining the upkeep of brand engagement standards.

(Engagement Rate of F21 India followers with account in Q1 and Q2, Instagram: Via Locobuzz)

Response Management and Crisis Comms

Fun Fact: Instagram is where authentic connections are made between brands and consumers.

  • 4/5 Instagrammers deem brands on Instagram to be authentic.
  • While the website was actively taking orders, there was no way to actually execute the delivery.

However, quarantine and national lockdowns demanded crisis management. Hence, Quick responsiveness + crisis resolutions = authenticity

The Locobuzz ORM Team led Angsty customers to daily updates on delivery statuses, store reopening announcements, pending refunds, product queries, and so much more!

It looked tough – the lockdown had persisted for three whole months – people would have to wait for their refund for that entire period.

(Graph shows conversations for logistical categories of F21 India Social Media during Q2.: Via Locobuzz)

However, the biggest recovery lay in brand interaction, which is what brought people closer to businesses despite all odds.

What is interesting to note is that, IG remained the preferred method for query resolution for an interest like fashion retail.

During the period of March to June, the prime of the COVID19 crisis in India, Forever21 replied to nearly 50 to 60 DM and comments addressing complaints and queries daily!

(Instagram DM Conversations of customers with brand F21 India, Q2: Via Locobuzz)

Empathy and ORM

In the days that folded into months, Forever21 India was quick to explain the operational logistics around the government constraints through constant communication and updates.

While the agenda for the ORM team was to keep the TAT on an all-time low, they made a tactical change which involved creating a series of responses that were as friendly and human as possible.

The decision was a good one, as globally, customer-to-brand dependency interaction had increased by nearly 50% across all social platforms.

The quick replies and timely updates acquired positive sentiment for the brand and many where the customers virtually acknowledged and thanked the brand for its promptness.

(FLR TAT ratio of all conversations across F21 Social Media Q1 and Q2: Graph shows drop in FLR TAT during lockdown and quarantine. Via Locobuzz)

The Locobuzz ORM Team was able to covert many negative customer sentiments to neutral or positive to ensure that brand loyalty stayed constant.

“Knowing that they were being heard, is what mattered most for many brand loyalists and customers alike. It was also nice for many customers to talk to a brand that did not sound robotic.” - Nigel, Team Lead, ORM, Locobuzz

(Sentiment trendline of user engagement on F21 social media in Q1 and Q2. Graph displays drop in user concerns of lockdown logistics and brand deliverables): Via Locobuzz

Engagement, Retention, and Advocacy

  • Recent studies show that when presented with information of interest from a brand, 98% *of Instagram customers take action instantly to *interact with the information, in forms of likes, comments or shares; 84% visit an app or a website.

  • Forever21 India to introduced their Instagram audience to 2-3 shopping posts daily, prompting customers to shop or share with their contacts.

  • Statistics also show that if a post of interest that pops up on the feed, 94% of Instagrammers want to search for more information related to the post, 84% goes to the brand’s website, 71% make a purchase and a whopping 45% end up following the brand’s account.

  • Forever21 India took the opportunity to host a series of contests, encouraging audiences to participate for free goodies with many coupons and perks for winners.

  • This led to more followers, high engagement and sure quantifiable of brand loyalty.

(Growth in Number of tickets resolved Q1 and Q2: Graph shows contest participation and high engagement ratio on Instagram): Via Locobuzz

A Success Story

With the force of Locobuzz ORM, Forever21 India remains in the realms of an e-commerce success story on Instagram. Customer satisfaction is an eventuality that ORM systems are tirelessly designed and function around.

A happy customer is a happy brand, and even in the most grueling time of social distancing, social listening and quick communication is the secret to success.

(All references for statistics in this case study were derived from official sources of Instagram and Locobuzz Solutions Pvt. Ltd.)

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