Editorially independent content. Fashion and beauty brands lead the way!

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In early 2010, luxury brand LVMH Moet Hennessey Louis Vuitton launched its digital magazine NOWNESS.com.

Described as a “digital leader in luxury storytelling” the digital magazine hosts “an exclusive premiere of the most inspiring stories influencing contemporary culture and global lifestyle”. While the site is controlled and run by LVMH, the content is ‘editorially independent’. It showcases a range of stories, products and topics that are not directly associated with LVMH.It’s been a successful marketing venture for the luxury brand, with the site winning a Webby Award for Best Fashion Website earlier this year. And it’s a marketing venture that represents a new wave of digital marketing – other luxury brands have similarly experimented, building editorial teams to create content on online platforms that is editorial in style (independent), but carries the brand message and keeps the brand cachet intact. Burberry’s Art of the Trench and Tory Burch’s Torypedia are two other examples.

A July report from McKinsey Quarterly – ‘We’re all marketers now’ – comments on these new content oriented strategies that deliver value and drive engagement with customers. “Many luxury-goods companies… have built editorial teams to “socialize” their brands: they are transforming the customer relationship by producing blogs, digital magazines, and other content that can dramatically intensify both the frequency and depth of interactions.”

These digital content strategies diverge from traditional marketing methods. Rather than paying for editorial space in existing publications, companies are launching their own online platforms on which they can share information with their customers.

It’s a new approach to luxury marketing that has also been adopted by more mainstream beauty brands. L’Oreal recently relaunched Makeup.com, which posts editorially independent content such as beauty and make-up tips advice using a variety of multimedia platforms. On our own shores, Maybelline NY is launching a new digital magazine, which aims to encourage interaction and fodder for their youthful, switched-on market.

The potential of ‘editorially independent’ content

Brands who are riding this new marketing wave have realised that it’s not just about the clothing or the product they produce – it’s about placing that product in a broader lifestyle context. It’s a way of reflecting your brand from a lifestyle perspective and taking an editorial approach to telling your brand story.

Behind this drive to produce this form of content marketing is the belief that it is regarded as more trustworthy to consumers, and more memorable and compelling than traditional advertising. Successful campaigns – such as LVMH’s NOWNESS and Makeup.com have been able to get a brand message out in a more engaging and exciting way.  It’s also a form of entertainment. Rather than broadcasting brand messages at people, this editorial content provides a more rich and interactive experience.

Another attraction of these brand owned platforms is that it is possible to measure the level of engagement. By monitoring impressions, clicks and conversions, brands can effectively track their ROI.

It does, however, raise some questions. For example, what is the line between editorial, advertising and advertorial? And will consumers be wary of crossovers? While there is some haziness around where editorial stops and advertising begins, the beauty of this foray into branded editorial platforms is that consumers can make the decision as to whether they want to engage with it or not (and there are a variety of sites to choose from).

While editorial content won’t end the need for traditional marketing and advertising efforts – it does usher a need for more creative and editorial digital marketing budgets and initiatives.

What other industries could benefit from brand owned editorial content platforms? Do you think this is an effective way for businesses to gain trust, loyalty and deliver a brand message to consumers?

(And yes, Switched on Media’s content team does offer digital content services, so feel free to get in touch with us for more information!)