‘It’s worth testing’: GQ is moving from recommending products to selling its own
GQ is looking to deepen its commerce revenue stream with the launch of its new e-commerce store, The GQ Shop, on Tuesday. The move follows the men’s lifestyle magazine’s move in January 2018 to formalized its affiliate play with the GQ Recommends vertical and the launch of its quarterly subscription service GQ Best Stuff Box.
Starting with a line of a dozen branded t-shirts and sweatshirts — ranging from $40 to $100 — the shop platform will also be used to sell the title’s $15 annual magazine subscriptions (that comes with a free GQ-branded hat) and the GQ Best Stuff Box ($50 for one box or an annual subscription for $190).
GQ’s editor-in-chief Will Welch and digital director Jon Wilde are both optimistic about GQ’s readers spending in the shop, they said, based on the success that the commerce businesses have seen since the start of the year.
Year to date, revenue earned from the Best Stuff Box is up 162% over 2019. On average, the box’s retention rate for one-off purchases is more than 85%, while the average annual retention rate is more than 75%, according to the company. What’s more, the publishers’ affiliate sales hub, GQ Recommends, is up 105% in revenue year to date over 2019.
A third of the people who purchase the GQ Best Stuff Box comes from editorial content promoting the box, like unboxing videos on YouTube or a newsletter. And the past five boxes have sold out completely, some selling out just six weeks after being released.
This editorial conversion data point from the boxes was particularly encouraging to Wilde, because he said it indicates that the editorial recommendations were highly valued enough that they drove readers to make a purchase, and the audience was likely going to listen to these recommendations again for the branded merchandise.
Beyond that, however, “it means we don’t have to spend a ton of marketing money to drive people to care about our t-shirts,” said Welch.
Through the first half of the year, GQ averaged a paid and verified print circulation of just under 950,000, according to the Alliance for Audited Media, and in July, had a 6.3 million unique visitors to its site, according to Comscore.
And while Welch said the shop will be plugged in the content that reaches that large audience, scale is still second order to testing out their readers respond to the merch line.
Much like the boxes, which have to be capped at a specific amount due to the limitations of the number of higher-quality products that GQ can access, the shop will only have a few hundred of each shirt for this initial drop.
Launching a merchandise shop serves as a level of “validation” for a publisher that it “has a certain quality and taste,” according to Ava Seave, principal of media consulting firm Quantum Media.
“But, historically, magazines are weak about selling [branded] things” beyond magazine subscriptions, she added, due to the fact that audiences tend to be segmented across platforms and the overall message of the brand gets diluted as a result.
This is why affiliate businesses and licensing deals with manufacturers who can make and distribute the products on their own are often times the most appealing and less expensive routes for publishers, she said.
But since GQ is manufacturing these items in a small batch to sell in its own shop, the costs of manufacturing and then shipping out t-shirts leaves a profit margin that at the end of the day likely pales in comparison to the other areas of a publishers’ business, Seave said.
“It’s not going to be gigantic, but it’s worth testing,” she said.
Seave added, however, that there is another value play beyond the gross margins that a publisher can make off of merchandise sales. “Maybe they’re trying to make their own case that it’s a brand that can be licensed,” she said.
“You can’t just chase dollars, otherwise we’d be undermining the authority” that GQ has when it comes to quality product recommendations, said Welch.
‘We’re netting out with higher revenue’: Publishers reaping the benefits of Snapchat’s strong second half
With CPMs up as much as 20% year over year in the fourth quarter, many Discover publishers are bullish on the upstart platform for next year.
‘Go to market faster’: The Washington Post’s Arc goes outside the tent for payment and data integrations
Subscriber revenue has become more of a priority to the Washington Post's Arc clients since it launched its subscription tools last year.
‘A digital Madison Square Garden’: How Complex reimagined the sponsorship opportunities for ComplexLand
The online event, which will combine music, conversation, gaming and shopping in an online world, will have 60 sponsors.
SponsoredPublishers will lead the charge as cookie-less advertising becomes the norm
Steve Wing, managing director, EMEA, Magnite As the advertising industry moves closer to a cookieless world — one in which browserless environments including connected TV (CTV) and mobile in-app are an increasingly large part of ad budgets — publishers will have an increasingly important role in developing the future of identity. Segment creation and identity […]
‘People have had permission to experiment’: Pandemic expedites rethink on 9-to-5 work structures
Starting out as a short-term fix to weather the coronavirus storm, employers are seeing work hours outside the traditional 9-to-5 week as a new normal.
‘They wanted to unload it bad’: Why HuffPost made sense for BuzzFeed – and Verizon Media Group
BuzzFeed's acquisition of HuffPost will give it access to an older, more affluent cohort, potentially bolstering its news and commerce businesses.