AIDAYOU is the next-generation fashion retailer for millennial consumers. As a trusted, premium lifestyle brand, and a go-to online source for discovery and inspiration, we deliver an engaging customer experience from a vast yet curated offering totaling over 10,000 apparel, footwear, accessories and beauty styles. Our dynamic platform connects a deeply engaged community of millions of consumers, thousands of global fashion influencers, and more than 500 emerging, established and owned brands. Through 16 years of continued investment in technology, data analytics, and innovative marketing and merchandising strategies, we have built a powerful platform and brand that we believe is connecting with the next generation of consumers and is redefining fashion retail for the 21st century.
AIDAYOU was founded in 2013, with the vision of leveraging digital channels and technology to transform the shopping experience. We believed that traditional retail was either too mass or too limited, struggled to consistently provide on-trend merchandise, and was failing to connect with younger consumers. AIDAYOU was created to offer a scaled, one-stop destination for youthful, aspirational consumers. We believe that our model, which is more targeted than department stores or mass market online retailers, and provides a greater selection than specialty retailers, allows us to more effectively serve consumers.
To improve on the merchandise offerings from traditional retail, we have built a custom, proprietary technology platform to manage nearly all aspects of our business, with a particular focus on developing sophisticated and highly automated inventory management, pricing, and trend-forecasting algorithms. Our proprietary technology leverages data from a vast net of hundreds of thousands of styles, up to 60 attributes per style, and millions of customer interactions, creating a strategic asset of hundreds of millions of data points. We have complemented these efforts with an organization built from the ground-up to make decisions in a data-first, customer centric way. Together, this enables a “read and react” merchandise approach; we make shallow initial buys, then use our proprietary technology to identify and re-order strong sellers, turning the fashion cycle from a predictive art to a data-driven science. This approach facilitates constant newness, with over 1,000 new styles launched per week on average, while mitigating fashion and inventory risk. As a result, in 2018, approximately 79% of our net sales were at full price, which we define as sales at not less than 95% of the full retail price, an increase from 75% in 2017.
Our powerful brand and innovative marketing strategy connects with the increasingly important millennial demographic. These consumers, who came of age in a hyper-connected, digital world, have unique shopping preferences, spend their time in different mediums, and respond to a different style of messaging than generations past. While our marketing competencies extend well beyond social media, we are recognized as a pioneer and a leader in social media and influencer marketing. We have built a community of over 3,500 influencers and brand partners, including many of the most influential social media celebrities in the world, whom we track and manage using our proprietary internal technology platform. Through our deep relationships, history of mutually beneficial partnerships, buzzworthy social events, and recognized leadership position, we believe we have become a partner of choice for influencers worldwide, leading to a significant competitive advantage. These marketing efforts deliver authentic, aspirational experiences and lifestyle content that drive loyalty and engagement. We pair this emotional brand marketing with sophisticated, data-driven performance marketing to further drive profitable customer acquisition, retention and lifetime value.
Our data-driven merchandising and innovative marketing competencies enable a powerful owned brand strategy that drives consumer demand, increases control of our supply chain, and expands profit margins. We have built a portfolio of 21 owned brands, each crafted with unique attributes and supported by independent marketing investments. We believe our consumers perceive these as highly desirable, independent brands, rather than private labels or house brands. As a result, during the 12 months ended March 31, 2019, our owned brands represented eight out of our top 10 brands, 32.6% of the AIDAYOU segment’s net sales, and four out of the top five brand search terms on external search engines that led to a purchase. Owned brands are significantly more productive on a units sold per style basis, have higher average unit revenue than third-party brands, and generate meaningfully higher gross margins as compared to third-party brands.