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How Ghanaian fashion designers use Instagram to internationalize

As a part of my Master’s Thesis, I had the opportunity to engage in the ACIG project and centered my work on the Ghanaian fashion industry. My research was focused on uncovering how Ghanaian fashion brands based in Accra use Instagram to gain customers from foreign markets. The data for my study were gathered through interviews conducted in Accra, involving eight individuals associated with Ghanaian fashion brands, including their founders, fashion designers, and social media managers.


Ghanaian fashion scene

Ghanaian fashion is gaining increasing recognition on the global stage, attributed to the efforts of young and creative designers revitalizing the industry, who blend traditional African designs and prints with modern trends. My study reflects the perspective of brands acknowledged on the global fashion scene like Larry Jay, Bello Edu, or Atto Tetteh, alongside smaller, locally known brands like Miss Dee or Taag Fashion. I found that regardless of a brand’s international recognition and the geographical location of its customer base, Instagram is an indispensable marketing tool that these brands use daily. They consistently leverage this platform not only to promote their products but also to foster communication with customers, both locally in Ghana and across international borders.


The use of Instagram for brands’ internationalization

Instagram plays a pivotal role in shaping global fashion trends by providing a platform for influencers, designers, and fashion enthusiasts to showcase and discover the latest styles. Its visually-driven format and extensive reach make it a powerful tool for fashion brands to establish an international presence, connect with diverse audiences, and drive engagement through creative and trendsetting content.


Throughout the interviews and analysis, I identified various tactics pursued by Ghanaian fashion brands, intending to enhance international reach. To resonate with a global audience, they use widely understandable and relatable captions, engage in partnerships with influencers and celebrities, and employ relevant hashtags in the published content. Moreover, my findings have shown that Instagram serves as a platform that connects Ghanaian fashion brands with relevant stakeholders in the fashion industry. These connections played a crucial role in enabling the participation of the three interviewed brands in international fashion shows, allowing Ghanaian fashion designers to showcase their collections to the global audience. As I found in my study, this aspect of Instagram use significantly enhances the brand’s international recognition, consequently attracting international clients.


Encountered challenges

However, insights into the challenges encountered reveal that, for certain brands, the utilization of Instagram is marred by frustration and demotivation. Throughout the interviews, I discovered that the dynamically changing Instagram algorithm and time constraints that impede adequate training pose a challenge for Ghanaian fashion brands. The efforts put into marketing activities on the platform do not always translate into anticipated outcomes, causing frustration and demotivation. This, in turn, prompts the discontinuation of certain Instagram activities, such as paid advertising, thereby hindering the full exploitation of the platform for fostering internationalization.


Furthermore, my research has shown that inadequacies in Ghana’s cybersecurity landscape have a tangible impact on Ghanaian fashion brands utilizing Instagram as a business tool. Faced with concerns about falling victim to online scammers, these brands adopt a reserved and cautious stance towards the platform. Notably, due to a significant mistrust directed toward Instagram’s user base, they are reluctant to engage in more direct and open forms of interaction.


Overall, my research has shown that while Instagram constitutes a relevant marketing tool for the internationalization of Ghanaian fashion brands, certain challenges such as lack of time for training and weak cybersecurity hinder taking full advantage of the platform’s potential.

By Martyna Fic


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