Create & Cultivate launched a 16-piece office supplies line that will be distributed in Target stores, marking the first foray into branded goods by the events and media company.
The product line, created in partnership with At-A-Glance, is a licensing deal, with At-A-Glance paying C&C to use its brand name on the products. At-A-Glance served as a consultant during the design process for the line, which runs from calendars to notebooks to planners.
C&C earns revenue through a mix of conferences, its digital media site, book deals and ad-supported podcasts. The 6-year-old independent company is on track to earn just under $13 million in revenue this year with 23 full-time employees. CEO and founder Jaclyn Johnson said that the goal is for their products division to account for 10%-20% of the brand’s overall revenue by the end of next year.
“I feel very strongly that this can be a very large-scale partnership for us and as a primary revenue stream moving forward,” Johnson said.
Since a primary audience for Create & Cultivate is working women and independent business owners, Johnson recognized that customers were more likely to be cost-conscious when buying supplies for their businesses and kept the prices for the 16-piece line under $20.
Target, the exclusive distributor for the line of office supplies, is familiar with celebrity and designer collaborations, including interior designer Nate Berkus’ home goods collection, Chrissy Teigen’s cooking line and Vineyard Vines’ limited clothing run, but working with media brands like Create & Cultivate is a relatively untouched area for the retailer.
Johnson said that she was interested in distributing with Target and approached them early on in the process, even though she knew the company typically requests exclusivity. And now that the brand is working with Target, all of the sales have to be done through a Target platform. So at the pop-up shop that C&C is planning on hosting at its Small Business Summit later this month, attendees will be able to interact with the products but have to purchase the item on iPads through the Target site.
The area that C&C is putting the bulk of their upfront investment into is marketing and will be using a mix of newsletters, in-house website ads, micro and macro influencer partnerships and an influencer dinner, in addition to the pop-up at the Summit.
Johnson said that in every notebook or planner, there is a page that talks about what Create & Cultivate is and also features the website and social media handles to try and pull a person who wasn’t familiar with the brand to the site.
In order to track these new audiences, she said that the prompted “how did you learn about our site” pop-up on the website will now include a “Target” option in order to attribute where new visitors learned about C&C.
For media companies that are interested in creating similar product lines with the help of a manufacturing partner, Ava Seave, principal at consulting firm Quantum Media, said “it’s low risk and it could be profitable.”
However, she said that because media companies tend to elicit a very weak emotional response from consumers, the financial risk really falls to manufacturers that have to make the call on whether or not the brand name is enough to sell products. If it isn’t, then the company will be out of a lot of upfront costs.
“Yes, it is replicable. But there’s unbridled entry, so if one organization sees that this works, then a second brand might try to license the heck out of their products. Everyone will try to do it, and it will become diluted, and eventually it will be weakened,” she said.