The shop, called “I Found It at The Strategist,” will be open for seven weeks, from November 8 to December 30, at 347 West Broadway in Soho, New York.
“It’s something we’d been thinking about for a while,” explained Camilla Cho, general manager of ecommerce for New York Media. “We wanted to try it last holiday season, but we didn’t have the time nor the resources to pull it together, and revisited it for the 2018 holiday season. The more we looked into it, the more we wanted to take the opportunity to showcase our brand and make it come to life in a fun environment.”
The Strategist, New York Magazine’s shopping site, has been around for two years. This is its first real life retail shop, featuring curated beauty brands and products, including haircare, incense, bed sheets, sheet masks, and more.
“Beauty has been a strong category for us,” Cho said. “It has always been one of our top three product categories. We’re writing about things that you may not even have heard or known about, that are of great value, and stuff that our editorial team can vouch for. We’re focusing it on the brands and products the Strategist team has covered and come to love.”
The store will also host programming including live demonstrations, product drops, giveaways, a beauty panel hosted by Strategist contributor Rio Viera-Newton and a “How I Get It Done” panel with The Cut’s beauty director Kathleen Hou.
For The Strategist, the shop is a marketing and brand awareness play, Cho said. “We thought we could make it a fun experience,” she said. “It adheres to our mission, to make shopping fun, to make shopping easier and informative by helping users navigate the vast world of online shopping… and translate that to an offline experience.”
Bringing The Strategist offline, into a retail environment will help raise brand awareness. It’s an important move, as the Strategist brand only launched two years ago, and is still new. Cho explained that they don’t do a lot of promotion of the site, so this provides a great moment for brand visibility and awareness.
“It’s also in a space that is increasingly competitive with so many other publishers playing in the product review and recommendation field,” Cho explained. “Offline allows more flexibility to showcase our brand personality and how we are different.”
Cho said the shop has come together with a lot of team effort. The Strategist partnered with Uppercase to execute the pop-up retail shop. Uppercase helps brands launch stores from the ground up, and helped The Strategist find a space, negotiate the lease, provide staffing and point of sale, design and build out, as well as myriad of other logistical operations. There are a bunch of New York Media staff, internally, who are also helping including the editorial team, the creative team, the experiential marketing team, as well as the Strategist ecommerce team.
“It takes a village, it turns out,” she said. “It’s a lot more than I ever imagined, there are a hundred different moving parts.”
Tomorrow: See you in Soho https://t.co/syXLhPT4aW
— The Strategist (@strategist) November 7, 2018
Through the process, Cho and her team learned a lot and definitely have an appreciation for how difficult it is to execute offline, she said.
“I think opening a store, as well as making brands and editorial come to life is a whole different set of skills than actually creating stories and publishing online articles,” she said. “It became apparent to us that this was something we couldn’t do with internal resources, and needed to find the right partners. And, marrying the experience of having done this before, and understanding our brand and our aesthetic, those are difficult combinations to come by in a partner.”
The other lesson Cho explained that the team learned, is that when it comes to anything holiday Q4-related, you just can’t start early enough. “We started reaching out to brands in August, and most had their holiday plans locked in and budgets committed,” she said. “We learned our lesson. We should even start maybe in Q1. Luckily, a lot of these brands were flexible because they wanted to be part of it.”
Additionally, making a brand come to life in a store setting was challenging. To create a user experience, and make sure that not only the media brand is represented accurately, but also the participating brands, as well.
“How do you convey your brand to random people walking along the street in SoHo, who’ve never heard of your brand? What is that first impression?” She asked. “I think it all fits in, but to relay that in a store setting in the holiday season, when people are in a rush, we definitely found that challenging. Definitely a lot of lessons learned!”
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