As US media and ecommerce group Clique Media launches its shoppable fashion site WhoWhatWear in the UK, co-founder Katherine Power discusses how social influencers are increasingly converting sales for retailers.
Katherine Power: ’Social influencers really drive sales’
Clique Media was founded by former Elle US editors Katherine Power and Hilary Kerr in 2006. Through its three website platforms, WhoWhatWear (fashion), Byrdie (beauty) and MyDomaine (home), Clique receives 11.2 million unique monthly visitors, represents more than 50 bloggers and publishes more than 750 social media posts a day, with an average basket size of $225 (£165). WhoWhatWear receives 3.8 million unique visitors a month in the US and sells an average of 16,000 items a month.
How do you work with retailers?
100% of our content is shoppable so ecommerce is integrated within the content and gives our readers the access to purchase whatever they want from within the article or adjacent to what we’re talking about. We have been doing that since we launched Who What Wear in 2006 and because of that we have some amazing relationships with major retailers, working with them in an affiliate capacity. Many of our top partners [such as Net-a-Porter, Reiss, Topshop and Asos] are actually located in London so that was a big consideration in coming into this market. We spend a lot of time here, got to know the market and there seems a big opportunity to take our type of style content and make it shoppable.
How do you work with bloggers?
I think of them now as social influencers because they’re not just engaging with their fans through their blogs but they have millions of social media followers. It’s the new way to translate street style, similar to the way that we used to use girls like Alexa Chung and Daisy Lowe to communicate personal style, which felt more approachable than a celebrity on a red carpet.
Now bloggers or social influencers are similar in that way because they are real people and live all over the world rather than just in somewhere like Hollywood. We have been able to leverage social influencers as talent to do a lot of content marketing for our brands and they really drive sales; they really convert for the retailers. [WhoWhatWear works with bloggers including Atlantic Pacific, Song of Style and Something Navy in the US. They are currently building partnerships with UK bloggers, with plans for a more formal offering in 2016.]
Who is the target consumer in the UK?
It’s quite similar to what we have in the US – the millennial female. Our woman works really hard, loves her beautiful flat and entertains at the weekend. She lives her life on an app and cares just as much about her surroundings as she does about her personal style and health. [WhoWhatWear will launch an app in 2016.]
How do you see the future of content and commerce?
I think it is really expected now. Millennials and a generation younger don’t really delineate between content and commerce.We expect contextualisation and inspiration when we’re shopping, and when we’re consuming content we expect to be able to act instantly, on demand, and be able to buy whatever it is that we’re seeing.
I think we’re going to start to see more of that and hopefully we are going to be able to shape the future of content.
I don’t see our company as either a media or a commerce business, I see a new type of company that marries the two.
Why have you decided to launch in the UK now?
When we started in 2006 our whole goal was to make fashion more approachable for women everywhere. We did that through street style and we didn’t care as much about the red carpet or the runway unless we were talking about how to translate those trends in real life.
What we ended up doing was gravitating towards people who had really great off-duty personal style and so many of them came out of London. We found ourselves very early on covering these young, up-and-coming British girls and they really helped to define our brand and the kind of content that we cover. The first time we covered Alexa Chung, for example, was in 2007.
When we thought about where to launch outside of the US, we looked at our largest non-US markets and the UK was the top of the list. It feels almost like we are coming full circle because there are so many amazing designers, taste-makers, musicians, models, and people who help to define fashion and style to come out of the UK so it seemed like a really organic step for us to go back to how we started and get into that market.
What trends do you see in the UK fashion market?
The UK is really pioneering because there is such a mix of interesting people here. Quite often people in the UK take a little bit more risk with their style [compared to the US] and they are a little less cautious so you see some really innovative looks and designs because of that.
In terms of retail, there are a handful of retailers that I think are really doing ecommerce right [such as Net-a-Porter and Asos]. Direct-to-consumer retail is really interesting at the moment but I think there is something to be said for multibrand retail as well. Our goal is to keep making it easier for our readers to shop and consume content, with our next challenge being mobile and how we can improve that experience.
Technology-wise, the apps that I’m addicted to are not even fashion apps, like Amazon or Instacart, which is a grocery delivery in the US – anything that creates efficiencies. We’re working on a mobile commerce platform that we’ll be launching in 2016 to solve some problems [relating to ease of use] that I have certainly as a consumer.
What key style trends do you see in the UK?
It seems like the style here falls into two camps – either it is very minimalist, almost Scandinavian-inspired or it’s more of a maximalist, so you are mixing prints, patterns and embellishments. That second look hasn’t caught on as much in the US but I can see that as something that our designers are going to pick up on.
What is the plan for the Who What Wear team in the UK?
We employ just over 100 people in the US but we are approaching our international expansion as a start-up and we’re known for running really lean, efficient businesses. We currently have two editors in the UK, Hannah Almassi, who was formerly fashion editor at Grazia and is running WhoWhatWear and Amy Lawrenson, who joined from Women’s Health and previously worked on Elle, responsible for the beauty site Byrdie. Our head of sales is based in Paris and covers all of Europe. We are hiring both on the sales and the editorial side, with the ambition to grow to a team of around 10 in the UK.
We launched all three of our sites last month in Australia, followed by the UK this week and then we have Europe in our sights. Paris will be next [in 2016].
What kind of UK brands and retailers do you admire?
Net-a-Porter, Matchesfashion.com, Farfetch, Asos and Topshop. Our readers are really interested in a mix of high and low so at the same time she spends a lot at Net-a-Porter and a lot at Asos, it’s the same customer. We are already working with pretty much any great UK retailer that ships to the US.
What are your big looks for autumn 15 and spring 16?
Although I spend my life surrounded by fashion, I appreciate anything I can do to make my style really efficient. I have a uniform, which is not fun because there are so many decisions that I have to make throughout the day, cutting that big one out in the morning is really good for me. I wear a lot of Celine, but I mix it with Zara, J Crew and ALC.