Pairing Content With Commerce Is NOT a Fad

Walt Disney illustrates the interconnection between it’s various lines of business in 1957.

I read an article last week published by the LA Times where its author, Erin Griffith, makes a throw-away comment dismissing the viability of a business model that combines content creation with consumer retail. In the article, Griffith lumps the hybrid content/commerce model in with ultra trendy e-commerce fads like flash sales, daily deals, subscription commerce, etc.

After subscription commerce came “content and commerce,” a trend that peaked so fast it’s more of a blip than a full-fledged fad.

The article goes on to use the example of Thrillist Media, who recently split their media and e-commerce businesses, as the beginning and end of the “content/commerce fad.” After spending the past 6 years building a successful business that fuses together a consumer product retail operation with an entertainment media operation, I can assure you that this model is far from another gimmicky e-commerce fad. This tried and true business model isn’t even new. Companies like Walt Disney have been successfully blending content and commerce since the early 1900s. In fact, Disney stands to make nearly 10x more revenue off the sales of Star Wars merchandise than off movie ticket sales for it’s latest Star Wars film.

The reason this hybrid model hasn’t garnered the same spot light as flashier (pun intended) gimmick e-commerce models is because it’s a real business. Building a real business takes much longer and is much more mundane than the headline-grabbing, flavor-of-the-month business models you read about on Tech Crunch. This model also comes in many different forms, so from an outsider’s perspective it is difficult to see just how popular it is becoming.

Pairing high-quality original content creation with a well-crafted consumer retail business is quietly becoming the de facto model for consumer-focused digitally connected companies. It’s truly a 1 + 1 = 3 scenario and far from just another fad.