Recent years have seen a rise in retailers acting as media and vice versa as both leverage expertise and loyal fans.

Retailers thinking and acting like media companies makes a lot of sense given their access to loyal audiences who value their ability to curate and create products that meet their needs. This stands them in good stead for commissioning and delivering content that does the same.

Retailer as media

M&S is one of several big names giving it a bash in a twofold push on both food and fashion.

The retailer has developed a monthly, 10-minute-long video series featuring four celebrities trying and discussing new M&S food. The themes change depending on the month, and it’s unscripted, simple, honest and authentic given all claim to be regular shoppers in M&S stores.

The commission of unique content is not the only interesting element here – also the fact that it was developed for Instagram TV is a forward thinking, social-first approach, and will also air on YouTube and Facebook.

On the fashion front, the store is leveraging brand ambassador Holly Willoughby, who selects her favourite items from the upcoming collection. M&S became one of the first retailers to use Instagram’s ‘Shopping’ feature, where products are tagged with the name and price of a product and a click-to-buy option in-feed and in Stories.

M&S claims to have reached nine million people so far and has achieved a bigger goal of bringing a far younger audience into M&S through the campaign, all for the cost of a monthly print ad, according to the marketing team.

Media as retailer

The flip of this foray is media companies acting like retailers, and in some cases doing a rather good job of it.

One such media is online streetwear publication Hypebeast. Founder Kevin Ma launched the fashion blog out of his bedroom in 2005, and 13-years-on it sits atop an established outlet attracting 44 million monthly visitors.

Similar to how retailer understanding of customer product needs has enabled them to transition into content, the reverse is true of media companies who have an acute understanding of the interests and tastes of their audiences.

Hypebeast’s natural transition into retail through its store, HBX, has been incredibly successful, with revenues of $7.2 million in 2017.

This is an excerpt from the free downloadable report Retail Trends 2020 and Beyond