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'The Kate Effect' – A Look at the Social Data Behind a Royal Fashion Phenomenon

'The Kate Effect' – A Look at the Social Data Behind a Royal Fashion Phenomenon

We’re not far off from royal baby number 2 but as expected, in the months leading up to the due date, there has been much discussion about the clothes the Duchess of Cambridge (aka Kate Middleton) has been wearing during her pregnancy. She has become known for mixing high fashion with clothes and accessories that are more affordable and certain brands have seen their popularity sky rocket as soon as Kate steps out in their products. In fact Newsweek reported that Kate Middleton may be worth 1 billion pounds to the UK fashion industry with the coats and dresses she wears often selling out in minutes.

Here at Talkwalker we decided to use social listening to take a look at the social value of this “Kate effect” by seeing how online mentions of brands have been affected by Kate wearing them and also seeing which brands are being mentioned most in connection with the Duchess.

Who is Kate wearing?


First off a look at some of the brands that have been mentioned the most alongside the Duchess over the last 6 months:

Kate brands share of voice

(Brands mentioned most alongside Kate Middleton between Oct. 2014 and April 2015)

Here the big brands like Mulberry and Alexander McQueen lead the way as does high end British dress designer Jenny Packham. Kate related mentions peaked on December 9th/ 10th when Kate and William were in New York. On this occasion it was Mulberry and Jenny Packham that drove the social frenzy with the Duchess wearing a pink Mulberry coat during the day and then a Jenny Packham dress to an evening function.

mulberry jenny packham kate middleton tweets

(Tweets about Kate Middleton's fashion during William and Kate's visit to the USA)

Making it in America


The fact that the biggest spike in mentions coincides with the William and Kate's visit to the US is an indication of the high level of interest in the Duchess stateside. Drilling further into the social data we can see that overall mentions of Kate Middleton - in total and in relation to brands - are higher in the US than the UK. To some extent this could be expected given the difference in population size (the US is roughly five times larger than the UK) but nevertheless the general level of interest in the US can be considered very high.

Kate brands mentions country

(Share of mentions of Kate Middleton and fashion brands divided by country of origin)

Lending a royal hand to smaller brands

kate middleton seraphine tweet

Major brands like Mulberry or Alexander Mcqueen always get a fairly significant amount of coverage with or without Kate Middleton’s help, but for some brands such as maternity wear specialist Seraphine and high end dress designer Jenny Packham, the Kate effect is one of the main drivers of their social visibility. For Seraphine in particular, a staggering 43% of the brand's social mentions over the last 6 months have been related to Kate Middleton. For Jenny Packham the figure is lower at just over 20% but still significant. The social data on Seraphine in particular seems to correlate to news reports. In a recent interview with Hello magazine, founder of Seraphine, Cecille Renaud said: “The Kate effect is huge and we have been enjoying a 400% growth in sales since it became public that Kate bought Seraphine dresses back in April 2013”. The graph below shows just how closely spikes in mentions of Seraphine are correlated to mentions of Kate Middleton.

seraphine kate middleton mentions

(Total online mentions of Seraphine (blue) and mentions of Seraphine and Kate together (green))

And even for major global fashion houses such as Alexander McQueen and MaxMara that have hundreds and thousands of online mentions over the last 6 months, they still owe around 2% of their social visibility to Kate Middleton.

So what is it about Kate?

It is difficult to quantify exactly what it is about Kate Middleton and her dress sense that leads to such a noticeable effect on the popularity of certain brands but several fashion afficionado’s have tried to explain exactly what it is that makes people want to “copykate”.

Here is what Vogue contributing editor Bay Garnett had to say:

"(she is) aspirational but in a completely approachable way. She's got elegance, but it's 'next-door'. It's all about accessibility; it's not avant-garde, it's not eclectic, it's nothing radical, it doesn't take imagination - it's normal. You can do it."

Others have suggested that the actual effect on sales isn't actually that large such as celebrity French designer Roland Mouret, who said to Vogue in February, “The kind of people who like Kate’s style are not the kind to rush out and copy her dress, you don’t see hundreds of women running around looking like her. To be honest, we’re more likely to get orders on a dress that Kim Kardashian’s worn.”

Nevertheless her presence on social networks and online news is large and global, giving the brands associated with the Duchess the potential for tremendous brand awareness around the globe.

kate middleton mentions worldwide

(Total social mentions of Kate Middleton worldwide between Oct. 2014 and April 2015)

With spotlight on the soon to be mother of two unlikely to die down any time soon, the clamour for brands to try and find their way into Kate’s wardrobe is only likely to grow. She remains a global phenomenon and for some brands like Seraphine, being “worn by Kate” has been a ticket to the big time both in terms of sales and awareness.

Photo Credit: Image from whatekatewore.com, Photos from James Whatling, Ben Stevens, Nunn and resized to 1024 x 582

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