The social network

YOU'RE attending a party this weekend and have absolutely no clue what to wear. So you decide to browse through some of your ­favourite fashionistas' Instagram accounts to get some outfit-of-the-day wardrobe inspirations, a.k.a. #ootdinspo, and proceed to comb through the internet for the same piece.

This is actually a pretty common routine among many consumers all over the world, as it takes less time and effort compared to actually walking through a shopping mall.

Global statistics have shown that 71% of consumers are using social media to make either a purchase reference, or to decide if they want to buy something.

In fact, 92% of people actually trust recommendations from individuals rather than brands, even if they don't know them personally.

This trend is reflected in the relationship that social media influencers share with their followers. Studies have revealed that a growing number of people are listening to what social influencers have to say, which explains why brands are increasingly interested to work with them.

Building on this trend, Morvin Tan and Polina Samoylova founded ModeFair, a one-of-a-kind social e-commerce platform that allows social influencers and brands to share curated fashion and lifestyle products and services online.

Tang Siew Wai, chief executive officer of ModeFair, says that e-commerce in Malaysia is a largely untapped market, with a penetration rate of only 5%, despite having an estimated value of RM24.6 billion in 2017.

With over 18 million active Facebook users and 6.5 million Instagram users in Malaysia, Tang said: "Malaysia is definitely a good [place] to have strong influencers and good e-commerce growth … We understand that brands are talking about dollars and cents, brand awareness, and also wanting to be associated with the right people to talk about their products.

"What we see is that people right now are not that responsive to ads, so a very reliable way to reach them is through relevant content from the people they like and trust.

"Influencers, on the other hand, definitely want more followers, endorsements and associations with the brand they love … and ModeFair is a unique platform that serves as the link between the two."

Launched in February this year, ModeFair is a mobile app that allows social influencers such as celebrities, Instagrammers, and bloggers, to discover products from brands they like.

Samples of the products will be sent over upon request, and social influencers are given the chance to experience it before recommending it to their followers – be it a haircut at Truefitt & Hill, a dress from Duchess & Co, or an afternoon hi-tea session at The Chateau in Bukit Tinggi.

Influencers will then need to post a photo or video on their social media page, and attach a link to their exclusive page in ModeFair, where online shoppers can purchase that product directly from the brand.

The products presented on an influencer's page reflect a personal and specially curated selection of their interests and style.

"Our validation is that we see people supporting influencers, we see fans wanting to experience the lifestyles of these influencers," said Tang.

"We're not controlling how [influencers] post a picture. If you tell them that they have to post it in a certain way, it's very restricted and doesn't look natural."

Tang explained: "[At] the end of the day, fans want to see real stuff, so we encourage brands to give freedom to influencers, because our selling point to influencers is that you can be as natural as you want when posting a photo because that establishes a deeper connection with their followers.

"Our social influencers are also more engaged with the products when they choose the brands that they would like to collaborate with, and this translates into more genuine product reviews and recommendations."

ModeFair started with 15 social influencers, and in less than three months, the number has grown to 70, with a combined reach of nine million followers on social media.

All of the social media influencers under the ModeFair banner have a healthy engagement rate with their fan base.

ModeFair also started out with only 20 brands on board, and now more than 100 homegrown and international fashion and lifestyle brands have joined the bandwagon.

Tang added that ModeFair is a good option for brands whose main focus is on retail, or who lack the resources to manage an online store, as well as brands that are overshadowed by bigger players in the market.

Tang said: "We believe that reaching out through social media posts, rather than through traditional advertising, is more relevant to our target customers who are largely [young], internet savvy and very connected on social media.

More details are available at the ModeFair website.