Community-based innovation - Case: MUUSE

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Community-based innovation - Case: MUUSE

The Danish fashion company MUUSE participates in the innovation consortium Community-Based Innovation to test some of their concepts regarding how to establish new physical entries to a dynamic online community of designers, tailors, bloggers and fashionistas. A promising way for doing this was found in the concept of pop-up shops.

The process: Input - focus and conscious decisions:
• Tapping into existing network of communities consisting of different fashionistas
• Want to invite customers in new and interesting ways
• Physical presence
• Establishment of physical access to online universe

Input – focus and conscious decisions
MUUSE produces and sells garments designed by the world's 100 most promising fashion designers. Together with, among others, the Italian company Vogue, MUUSE selects talented designers, creates the collection together with international tailors and markets it through the MUUSE website. On the website customers can choose their favourite garments and in their size. The garments are then produced in high quality fabric by MUUSE's own tailors. Basically, MUUSE’s business model is based on a community concept.

Based on its business model and its strong relations to fashion magazines, design schools and tailors, MUUSE has a strong basis for further integration of communities in their business.  Most prominent is the opportunity of creating stronger relationships with their customers so that they may be ambassadors for the brand. In order to attract and involve customers the most important factor is to create new entry-points.

MUUSE also has an Easy-to-Wear collection, where some of the most popular pieces are produced in standard fabric for sale at a reduced price. The new physical presence is meant to give potential customers the opportunity to try this collection.

Throughput – activities and concepts:
• The concept for the MUUSEverse, ie. a customer experience that includes virtual, physical and social elements
• A working model of an interactive fitting room, including mobile app and supporting web infrastructure
• Feedback session with fashionistas and MUUSE employees
• Crowdsourcing campaign via Boblr


Modevirksomheden MUUSE's koncept MUUSEverse i en grafisk illustration

Throughput – activities and concepts

The MUUSEverse consists of four components.

  1. An invitation to try on garments presented on a digital mood board with photos where you may find inspiration in other customers' choice and styling of outfit.
  2. The experience inside the dressing room. By means of RFID-chips in the garment, a visible inspiratory design collage will be activated, created by the individual fashion designer. Here, potential customers can get an insight into the world of the designer and the intentions with the garment, whereby it becomes easier to look beyond the material aspect of the garment and instead focus more on visualizing the contexts in which it may be used. Furthermore, the mirror in the fitting room is actually a camera screen. By using a smart phone app the users are able to make a photo shoot, where a number of pictures are taken and uploaded to the abovementioned digital mood board. Through the app the users may at any time choose to remove the pictures.
  3. The app opens up to a new technology-based dimension of a shopping experience: see their dressing trials again after leaving the store, share pictures with friends and get feedback about their buying decision. This way the fitting room offers a “show off” function, whereby the user may show his or her taste and style to others in the MUUSE community.
  4. The idea is that traces of visits are left in the fitting room, e.g. photos, which the next users may access, either in the store or on the MUUSE blog, and thus feel connected with people of the same mindset. Such traces can be more or less explicit, and during the innovation process  experiments were conducted with technology that makes it possible to reorganize the garments in the store in relation to what is being touched, what is popular and what your friends prefer. These traces of data are less visible and are perhaps being left behind unintentionally, which raises the questions of transparency and control. These concerns were raised during a feedback session regarding the interactive fitting room. Both the fitting room and other experiments were part of the efforts of designing a new and outstanding shopping experience in retailing, and this challenge was also crowdsourced through the Boblr platform, another member of CBI consortium. More info about the learning and experiences of this campaign can be found in the case description about Boblr.
Output - learning and results:
The work of developing a new physical shopping experience for MUUSE's potential customers resulted in:
• Knowledge of the reasons for participating in an online fashion community and the perception of the other "members"
• Insight into cultural differences regarding attitudes towards technology and control
• A pop-up store in the 'Magasin' department stores in Copenhagen and Aarhus

Output  - Learning and results
The members of a MUUSE community are motivated by the opportunity of showing their creativity and knowledge about fashion to other fashionistas and to get recognition and feedback in return. It is about expressing one’s personal and creative style and to get honest feedback through comments, advices and inspiration from others, preferably the designer or a celebrity with taste for fashion. Hereby, a continuous and insightful dialogue occurs with the shared purpose of developing the area of fashion. The community is intended to work as a social mirror, where the individual user can reflect herself and her interest in, and where it can be seen by groups on anonymous users or virtual stylists. The hypothesis is that it should be possible to open up the traditionally very private context thanks to the technology in the fitting room, which establishes a connection to more or less anonymous users in an online universe. In particular when the user can be confident that the feedback only comes from qualified fashionistas and not from the person's normal social networks.

Regarding the choice of technology and control, the crowdsourcing campaign and the feedback session revealed the cultural differences between western and eastern users. For instance, while the participants from eastern countries neither had problems with the previously mentioned inspiration proposals from the world of the designer nor with the automatic publishing of photos from the fitting room, western users expressed concerns regarding the risk of being led or manipulated by the reorganization of hangers and suggestions for styling. They wish to be in control, which for example can be obtained through the use of smartphones. As one of the participants stated:

“I know that it is there, it feels like a friend in the background, I feel very safe with it. It is because it is the one device that I always have with me, it is the one that I am already comfortable with, and it makes total sense – it is so ingrained in me already, it is like a part of my hand […] because it feels like it is a part of me, it is not some strange foreign device, it is mine, I am comfortable with it” - Participant at the feedback session

The MUUSEverse concept and the functional model of the interactive fitting room were developed further as a pop-up store, which was launched during the Copenhagen Fashion Week, and later moved to Aarhus. Hopefully, by attracting a lot of new customers and by creating, at least temporarily, a certain hype thanks to their pop-up stores, MUUSE may, however, face the risk of diluting their brand, as the uninitiated literally speaking will get a direct access to the brand, which thus perhaps will be perceived as less exclusive, thereby discouraging some of their existing customers. MUUSE is aware of this risk and manages it by for example focusing their communication and activities on their blog and social platforms Pinterest and Vine, where mainly first-movers are active at present.

Thus, it is not a question about co-creating specific products but rather about getting insight into the social dynamics, flows and tendencies that continuously arise. Based on the gathering of data and a potentially closer relationship between the designer and the customer, this may over time create a more targeted production of garments.

From a business point of view, MUUSE has developed a physical touch point, the pop-up store, that serves as a new sales channel and a flexible event system that may:

  • Attract new customers
  • Create an increased interest for MUUSE’s brand internally in the industry
  • Function as a portal to the company’s online community
  • Support their work with visual communities on Instagram, Pinterest and Vine

The innovation process has provided knowledge about how MUUSE can engage a community of interest based on mixed-reality, where activities in the store create action online, and vice versa. By using modern technology the user can leave behind digital traces for others to find, which may give the MUUSE brand a valuable opportunity of becoming the focal point in a discussion about style and fashion.

See also: The fittingroom stage - Redressing the fitting room

The innovation consortium Community-Based Innovation focuses on the ways in which the connection between groups of people and technology may create value for businesses and organizations. Based on this and other cases we work to create a systematic approach for businesses that wish to enhance their approach to communities. If you wish to know more about CBI or have comments and inputs to the work of the innovation consortium, you are more than welcome to contact us.