Saw a brilliant quote this morning from Christopher Bailey the chief creative officer of Burberry. Goes like this:
“We are now as much a media-content company as we are a design company, because it’s all part of the overall experience.”
I thought Burberry made raincoats. And scarves. And apparel. But no, according to Bailey, Burberry makes content. They’re a media company. And from what I can tell, a pretty damn good one. First they impressed us with Art of the Trench. Now they’re at it again, live streaming their London Fashion Week show to 25 flagship stores.
Retail theatre if you will.
Burberry plans to present its 2011 line via high def screens, surround sound and an experience that lets customers view the entire line on iPads from which they can then place advance orders.
This is a far way from traditional advertising in the Sunday New York Times Magazine. Burberry isn’t buying media, it’s creating media.
You could make an argument that is the new frontier in marketing creativity. Less about messages, more about innovative ways to engage with customers and add value in the form of original content.
Granted plenty of companies and forward thinking brands are making content part of their business model. Retailers like Uniqlo. Online services such as OK Cupid. Young start-up “me-commerce” businesses in the mold of Gemvara.
But there are two aspects to Burberry’s idea that make it particularly smart. The first is that it focuses on existing customers. The Grateful Dead approach, if you will. Embrace, invite, involve and celebrate the people most likely to influential your success and spread the good word.
The second, potentially offering even more value, is that this idea creates a direct link to sales. Burberry will know almost instantly what its customers like and what they choose to pre-order. It might even help Burberry make decisions about inventory, and how many pieces to stock.
Yet even those benefits may be secondary to the simple idea expressed in Christopher Bailey’s quote. The idea that every business needs to be in the content business.
Are you in the content business yet?