Issue No. 181: On Media’s Diminished Influence on Major Retail

Last Word: Media’s Diminished Influence on Major Retail


This past week, Women’s Wear Daily reported that Conde Nast is preparing for a period of consolidation of its 22 brands. One para stood out:

The consolidation moves are believed to include a
reduction of publishers and the promotion of key executives to the roles of chief marketing officer and chief revenue officer. (The word “publisher” is also expected to be replaced by the title of general manager and chief revenue officer in order to project an image of being less reliant on print even though the majority of Condé’s revenue continues to be derived from it.)

The media economy has been one of the focal points of the 2PML letter and it’s for a reason that I haven’t thought to explain. With major retail brands continuing to struggle, some floundering all together, I’ve taken a decidedly unique approach to commentary. Whether we’re discussing major retail or younger “modern luxury companies” (MLC), it’s important to note that success can be more difficult to achieve when the dependable foundations of retail are shifting all around you. Rather than focusing on MLC’s,  I focus on the platforms that they rely upon to subsist.

We’ve watched Google and Facebook crush media brands and newspapers into revenue-first / content-second operations. Rather than companies focusing on pure journalism, publishers are being set aside for the likes of CMO’s and CRO’s. While these types of folks are essential to modern business, publishers are equally so. And this is being forgotten at an alarming rate. What many fail to realize is that publications like: GQ, Vogue, W, and Vanity Fair have been the kingmakers in ways that discovery platforms like Facebook or Google or even Amazon can never be. Media’s influence over retail will continue to struggle and it may be contributing to brick and mortar retail issues.

The brands that are struggling have been tasked with evolving throughout a period of fierce adversity. Organic demand generation (see the above-graphic) has lost its influence, paid demand generation is often limited to online behomoths like Facebook, and eCommerce the experience of buying nice things. It would seem that consolidation and a renewed focus on revenue (paid native, etc)  is inevitable for all media brands. So where will the brands of the future be anointed?

See more of the issue here.

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