The new retail: Clicks then bricks?

The Womens Room shop

Image courtesy of Selvedge Magazine

Something we have been interested in for a while, is the concept of creating a brand that starts with an online audience, who eventually turn into customers. Could this be the way forward for successful blogs who have created a niche community of like minded readers?

Creating a strong aesthetic, providing honest, trustworthy opinions and generating day to day online engagement across social media, means that blogs have everything – except actual products – that most consumers look for in a aspirational brand. So why not take things a stage further and create a range of products that appeal to these (often large) groups of loyal readers?

Perhaps it takes a partnership to take things to the next level, as any of us that know anything about design, buying and merchandising know that creating a range is so much more than just chosing lovely clothes or products – add in production, distribution and managing stock and the whole thing doesn’t look quite so appealing.

Magazines are facing hard times and being forced to find new ways to make money. Clever publishing companies are looking ways to team up with like minded partners to appeal to targeted groups of magazine readers by creating physical shops, as well as multi channel experiences.

Hearst magazines have done just this with Seventeen Magazine, a publication aimed at teenage girls, who are partnering with US department store chain Sears to develop clothing range specifically for its target audience. The collection, which launches in July 2014, will be sold in 500 Sears stores across the US, will be branded with Seventeen Magazine signage and include interactive elements such as phone charging stations.

Glen Ellen Brown, Hearst’s vice-president of brand development, told WWD why the publisher is collaborating with Sears: “Our whole objective is to be able to distribute where people can find us very quickly.””Seventeen will have its own brand page,”

Sheila Field, CMO of Sears apparel said, “customers with be able to create their own catalogs of items they like and share them with friends. We’ll be tapping into Seventeen’s great readership and using all the Sears channels, especially digital and social, to target this consumer.”

Mmmm interesting isn’t it – The Womens Room at John Lewis anyone?

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