Since when did it become acceptable for publishers to sell the products they are preaching about? Around the same time that selling ads to pay the bills became an archaic concept.
The evolution of the Internet has brought opportunities and challenges to virtually every category and segment of the global economy. For publishers, it has become increasingly difficult to charge for content (Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?), while at the same time retailers are struggling to attract/retain customers when there are so many ways to access goods. As a result, many of these companies have joined forces to maximize value, gain access to customers and achieve cost efficiencies. Better yet, innovative companies like Net-A-Porter, Refinery29 and Fab.com are part of a new breed of companies that have seamlessly converged content with commerce.
Why is this a good thing? Traditional publishers would say this is blasphemous (this is usually when the words “church” and “state” get thrown out there). I say otherwise. At eLUXE, we believed that we had more editorial integrity than most publishers. For us, we made trend decisions during a buying season, bought to those trends, then editorialized those products in our online magazine, thereby “putting our money where our mouth is”. That is more authentic than picking up an established newspaper only to find that the entire section has been brought to you by their dear advertiser (have you seen the Globe and Mail Style section lately, courtesy of Holt Renfrew)?
Not only does this convergence provide for more genuine editorial, it gives publishers and retailers the opportunity to do better business. For example, telling stories with product sells more products (think J Crew). And selling products that you editorialize allows readers to fulfill the desire generated by the content they’ve read (think Net-A-Porter). It also results in job creation by developing new roles that hadn’t before existed.
So some may say it is the end of retail and publishing as we know it. I say, so what?
About the author: Joanna Track is the founder and former CEO of Sweetspot.ca and eLUXE.ca. Her professional sweet spot is marketing, branding, fashion and lifestyle, and ecommerce. As a result, she has a strong penchant for shopping online. Connect with her on LinkedIn.