Publishers engage consumers through products/experiences initiatives
Femina Flaunt has recently opened its doors in the posh suburb of Bandra in Mumbai. If the name sounds familiar, yes, it is from the same organisation that publishes the Femina magazine. This is not the first time an organisation has made headway into the retail space. Vogue introduced a range of eyewear and sunglasses in 1973 and they are sold at all leading optometrists in India. Lifestyle site POPXo has also introduced an e-commerce led extension of the brand. POPXo's e-commerce store sells lifestyle, home and beauty related products ranging from scented candles to wall clocks to body lotions and creams. Fashion magazine Elle also has multiple boutiques set up across the country that cater to bridal needs, in addition to lending its name to its own high street fashion line.
POPxo asserts that the idea to diversify into e-commerce was a data led decision in terms of product categories. "In essence, this was a logical progression in terms of business direction. It was a natural move for us to monetise our audience. The process was very organic and cannot be described as an aha moment. We knew it was the next step for us. The millennial woman and what defines her are at the core of our marketing strategy. 50 per cent of our audience has been from Tier II and Tier III cities for over a couple of years now, so our e-commerce presence in these cities is also very strong," says Sasha Chetri, marketing head of POPxo over mail.
In Femina's case, their reasons for diversifying differ slightly. Sandeep Dahiya, CEO - Times Lifestyle Enterprise mentions that after six decades, the brand identified two key categories to extend into – fashion and beauty. "Having ventured into fashion with Femina Flaunt four years ago with Shoppers Stop, we’ve now entered the beauty space, with the launch of Femina Flaunt Studio Salon. We undertook an extensive research through an external agency that confirmed that the beauty services industry in India is going to grow more than 20 per cent year-on-year over the next five years, yet there are barely any brands that have presence at a national level," he explains.
Dahiya emphasises that given Femina's positioning, the focus is on bringing the latest beauty and grooming trends from across the globe to consumers - and the marketing strategy would reflect the same as well. "Overall, there would be four strong pillars of marketing campaign for Femina Flaunt Studio Salon. Firstly, we will collaborate with the top bloggers from across the world to bring to our consumers, beauty and grooming trends – that would be delivered both, offline as well as online. We'd also offer tie-ups with experts in fitness, nutrition and make-up, to serve bespoke solutions, not just in the salon, but also outside it," he says.
In POPxo's case, Chetri points out that there are a lot of publishers and platforms capturing value across the spectrum. "The main challenge with a pure play content model is at-scale monetisation. Page views and video views get relatively low eCPMs (effective cost per mille-a unit of ad revenue measurement) as the brands perceive the user purchasing power to be low - this is pegged to the national per capita income. Plus, the ad exchanges run by Facebook and Google take 50 per cent of the ad revenue," Chetri explains.
"At POPxo, we are looking to add more monetisation layers by selling products directly to the user. We have millions of women who are active on the POPxo platform and channels. We know what they want and what works for them. Armed with this data, we are producing products we know they want and love. We have a large and effective marketing machinery. As a result, the content-commerce opportunity is massive. Content is the best and most cost-effective way to build a large and engaged community. It only makes sense to capture value by adding a commerce layer to the monetisation playbook," says the spokesperson.
According to Rutu Mody-Kamdar, founder and managing director at Jigsaw Brand Consultants, the e-commerce diversification made sense in POPxo's case. "What worked in their favour is that they have a highly engaged audience. The e-commerce offering is another stream of revenue generation, completely separate from the other types of content they create," she explains.
She points out that with regard to most examples addressed in the story, it's a classic case of brand extension. "These publications already have a captive audience. This is another way to leverage that attention that they're giving the brand. The offerings that these brands have are generally separate from the main publication they come from. The publication has its own brand equity and the offering is an extension of this. In a customer's mind, there shouldn't be an issue of credibility since people don't view journalism in the same black and white terms anymore," she concludes.