SAY: Brand Content Is Addictive

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Too many choices is paralyzing. In truth, we need editors in every part of our lives. - Susan Lyne, Chairman of Gilt Groupe

If you want to glimpse the future of content, commerce, entertainment and branding all at once, consider Gilt Groupe – the members-only source for insider access to top luxury brands. Gilt's secret weapon is vertical sites like Gilt Taste, Jetsetter and Gilt MANual, curated by strong editorial voices like Ruth Reichl, Kate Maxwell and Tyler Thoreson. These sites do more than sell product or do service stories – they weave a dream, encouraging readers not just to shop for things, but to shop for an entire lifestyle. This type of brand content is addictive, entertaining – and highly successful. Print magazines are launching their own online shopping sites to stay competitive and this new content-meets-commerce model will soon be the standard for all digital platforms.

We caught up with Gilt Chairman Susan Lyne about why the site is so addictive to buyers, how retail is just repackaged entertainment - and the big opportunities for marketers when content and commerce are paired with just the right editorial voice.

Susan Lyne will also be a speaker at our invitation-only SAY Create event in Napa in September.

SAY: What role do editors play in retail and how is that evolving in interesting ways?

LYNE: They will play a huge role in the evolution of ecommerce. One of the great challenges of shopping online is that there is SO much out there. Too many choices is paralyzing. In truth, we need editors in every part of our lives, people who can sift through all the clutter and steer us to the key trends for fall, or the five best new restaurants in Brooklyn, or the best memoirs of the year. Give me 1000 choices and I'm likely to throw up my hands and leave. But give me a dozen good options - and why you love them - and I am much more likely to act (read: buy).

What do marketers need to understand about content and commerce?

That it needs to be compelling, useful, contextual and authentic. Consumers are savvy. If the content feels generic or promotional, or if it distracts you instead of helping you make a buying decision, get rid of it. But the right content at the right moment in the commerce flow can help a consumer find the choice they'll be happy with. And a happy customer is likely to come back.

What are the biggest opportunities for brands when it comes to combining content and commerce?

Combining content and commerce enables brands to drive engagement, create desire, and then fulfill it - instantly. And when the voice is right, it can signal to a consumer that this is MY place, they GET me.

You launched the Gilt Facebook store this week. What are the opportunities for brands on Facebook that they won't get anywhere else?

As a brand right now investing in social and mobile is vital to the growth of your business. You can't sit back and assume consumers will come to you - your website or your store - you have to take your business to them, meet them where they spend time online. Gilt is a great destination site and our brand partners benefit from the huge wave of consumers who come at noon, but our FB store allows us to stay connected 24/7 - and to tap a new customer base by taking advantage of all the platform features Facebook has in its toolset. Gilt has long seen the value in providing Facebook fans with extra incentives: Historically, our fans have been able to preview the site¹s daily flash sales an hour early, and Gilt City extends special privileges to its rewards program members. Now we can integrate a brand partner in that experience in a much more seamless way.

Give us a taste of the future: Where is the content + retail revolution headed next?

It's the next spin on the media wheel. The next generation of fashion, travel, food magazines will combine content and commerce in a way that feels seamless - and we'll all wonder why it took so long!

What other e-commerce sites do you admire? Who else is doing it right?

There are a number of sites that are doing something really well: ModCloth and Threadless for social shopping, Burberry and Hermes for the way they showcase product, and American Eagle has approached video in an interesting way that seems to be resonating with their audience.

What's on your iPad?

Gilt, obviously. But also Flipboard, Huffpo, NYT, Netflix, NPR, WWD Blast, Hulu +, interest....and Scrabble (I'm addicted).