EDITORIAL CONTENT: Net-a-porter, Tory Burch, Kate Spade and Ralph Lauren lead the pack when it comes to editorial content for retailers and brands. Net-a-porter.com has been producing a weekly, online magazine since the company’s inception in 2001 (born from Natalie Massenet’s original vision to create a “shoppable magazine”) and now has an editorial staff of more than 40 writers, stylists and art directors. “It’s just like any other magazine,” contends Net-a-porter’s editorial director Claudia Plant, whose comment perhaps indirectly addresses the increasingly direct commercialization of the magazine industry. With a mission to “advise, entertain and inspire,” she notes that this is the only magazine that actually has bought the stock it features in its editorials, showing its “conviction in the product beyond making pretty pictures.”
Plant says the retailer’s social media strategy is a combination of content planned six months in advance and pertinent news as it arises, such as trends or sightings of celebrities wearing key items. Examples of trend-driven editorial produced by the retailer include “The Superstar Sweater,” a comprehensive guide that came out this month featuring the season’s best sweaters, showing them in a vast array of colors, silhouettes, materials and patterns across dozens of brands. “Smooth Operator” was a story about velvet and how to wear it, which the site calls “FW11’s ultimate indulgence for day,” while a feature called “She’s So Fine” showed customers how to wear supersize diamond rings, chunky bangles and precious stones via compelling imagery.
Kate Spade, which nabbed the number-two spot in Luxury Lab’s Digital IQ Index, unveiled a redesigned Web site last March that added greater editorial content to its previously e-commerce-focused site.
Katespade.com now fuses a 50-50 ratio of shopping and editorial content, says digital marketing manager Cecilia Liu. Previously, editorial occupied just 15 percent. When users arrive at the homepage, they are welcomed with a split screen that gives them the option to “shop” or “play”—the latter directing them to an image-driven insider world of the brand that includes “How She Wore It”—detailing the ways celebrities like Anne Hathaway or Sandra Bullock wore a handbag from the brand—and last month’s “Crazy for Cocoa,” a list of the brand’s “favorite melt-in-your-mouth chocolate treats.” It included Doughnut Plant’s Valrhona chocolate doughnut, Mariebelle hot chocolate and Bisous Ciao dark chocolate macaroons.
Then there’s Tory Burch’s “Tory’s Blog”—the editorial leg of toryburch.com that’s updated daily and run by editor in chief Honor Brodie. “We create daily features with different tastemakers who share their thoughts and recommendations on fashion, art, music, culture, travel and entertaining,” says Brodie. “Spotlight On,” “Tory On,” “Best Dressed,” “Book of the Week” and “Tory Entertains” are among the content rubrics—and recent features have showcased trends like graphic prints, the style of Ann Dexter-Jones, the novel The Marriage Plot and Waris Ahluwalia’s fall wish list. (That list included José Saramago’s The Elephant’s Journey, APC Jeans, Esquivel shoes and a red velvet blazer he wished Tory made in his size). Toryburch.com was sixth in L2’s index. The brand sees little difference between customers who shop in stores and those who shop online (although the social community on Facebook skews slightly younger than the core customer). The company launched e-commerce at the same time that it opened its first boutique.
Ralph Lauren—which ranked seventh in L2’s index and was one of the earliest and most sophisticated adopters on the medium—became the first brand to purchase the advertising inventory of the New York Times iPad app in its entirety in September. Besides registered users that surpass 2.5 million on the newspaper’s app, the partnership gave the brand a platform on which to share editorial content, including a livestream of its spring 2012 runway show and RL Magazine. Readers also gained access to rich media ads. Ralphlauren.com’s Style Guide is full of content showing consumers how to wear the latest trends, such as “Fall’s Top 10: See Which Iconic Items Create a Complete Wardrobe This Season” (the camel coat was number one), while RL Magazine is a lifestyle quarterly that delves beyond the brand’s clothing—it gives enthusiasts interviews and articles on topics ranging from the “wildest golf holes on the planet,” to “Remembering Cary Grant” and even how to create a “stellar wine cellar.”