At Fluid we believe (passionately) in the intermingling of merging of the brand and shopping experience. As a practical matter, this consists of blurring the line between content and commerce so shoppers are not forced to choose between one or the other, but instead have a great experience that (hopefully) leads to a transaction.
Quite aside from the realities of doing this in a seamless manner, there are often organizational issues at play (brand content is often owned by marketing and commerce is owned by either consumer direct or the ecommerce team). But we believe strongly that this convergence is not only good for retailers but is good for consumers, allowing them to navigate to their interests without being blocked by some artificial, vendor created, division.
Thus, the something I saw today really caught my attention.
I am probably not alone in viewing CNN as a content-focused company. So you can imagine my surprise when I saw an icon for a t-shirt next to the news story I was reading. See the screen grab below:
Certainly they couldn’t be featuring apparel on their site?!?! Time Warner is a media company!
Further investigation, as shown below, pretty clearly shows that selling t-shirts is exactly their intention.
Personally, I think this is a brilliant move. Quite aside from the trend toward embracing the ironic in apparel, it should be a wake up call to retailers everywhere: The companies that engage their shoppers, whether with content or product, will carry the day. The line between content providers and retailers is getting fuzzier every day. Given the current upheaval in the media world, if you don’t believe the fashion magazines you advertise in now will be selling your competitors’ goods in the relatively near future you are in for quite a rude awakening.
Of course you can’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. If you are a company that makes shoes, your business isn’t going to be based upon writing critiques of Sarah Jessica Parker’s latest pair of Manolo Blahnik’s over night. But it does encourage you seriously consider to how you can draw shoppers into your store, whether it be through rich interactivity or content, and engage them with your products.
Interesting times we work in…