Solange Knowles poses for The Edit, published by Net-a-Porter.
The fact that retailers are publishers now isn’t news; what is is that the production and ownership of branded editorial content seems to have tipped over, sometime in the past year, into a necessity, not a bonus feature, for brands.
What’s really interesting here is that while retailers have come to the realization that social media and online editorial offerings don’t necessarily directly generate sales, they’ve almost simultaneously embraced creating content purely as a means of sharing their image, history, and events. Isn’t that nice? Besides offering a certain purity of vision, it also results in more elevated content that’s not just there to make you buy, buy, buy.
Brands like Gap, for instance, carefully tailor what they offer across a range of platforms, from Instagram to their blogger series, Styld.by, to show their wares in an approachable, appealing way. (On Styld.by, Gap looks are even mixed with other brands.) Target, meanwhile, publishes A Bullseye View to build “meaningful relationships with customers,” says their Vice President of Public Relations, Dustee Jenkins. With pieces on the history of the stores’ layout and how a fireworks show comes together, Target’s content channel is in no way overtly about commerce. And at the other end of the spectrum, there’s Net-a-Porter, whose weekly online magazine, The Edit, rivals any editorially independent glossy for glam, high-end style content (we present you with the example of a Solange Knowles interview, above).
In tandem with Tribe Dynamics, we’ve started closely examining online media numbers. Even if it’s not a direct sales generator, the editorial presentation of a brand holds very strong equivalent ad value in terms of customer recognition and interaction. As consumption continues to grow over tablets and mobile, the public now expects content to come along with commerce. And really, it’s so much nicer that way.
Disclusure: We’re the product of this retail tendency, too. The High Low is produced by Fifth & Pacific Companies, Inc., which owns kate spade new york, Jack Spade, Kate Spade Saturday, Lucky Brand, and Juicy Couture.