Trend Focus: Retail Brands Take a Page from Magazines with Editorial Content

As brands try to differentiate themselves in the marketplace and engage their customers in new ways beyond traditional advertising, many are taking a page from magazines—literally. Brands such as Banana Republic and Nordstrom are using longform, editorial-style articles to tell the story of their brands and products. These articles often offer useful tips and other valuable information with the aim of increasing a customer’s connection with the brand and, as a result, increased sales.

As a copywriter currently working for a major retail brand with a background in magazine editorial writing, this trend has piqued my interest. As a writer for print publications, I often told the stories of brands and products through a personal, editorial lens—so as a brand, why not tell your own story?

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E-commerce brand, Net-A-Porter, paved the way for this trend when it was founded in 2000, and its editorial-style content has been the foundation of its business. Unlike traditional retail brands, Net-A-Porter began as a shoppable online fashion magazine, paving the way for this recent trend. Last February, they formed a new group called Porter Digital that posts editorial content daily instead of weekly at and the Net-A-Porter app, providing shoppers with the ability to purchase items with just one click. The e-retailer’s weekly magazine, The Edit, has since been rebranded PORTEREdit, and the brand also produces a bi-monthly glossy magazine called simply PORTER.  

Recently, more traditional retail brands have looked to fashion magazines to market themselves to their customers. Banana Republic has a magazine-inspired blog called The Republic that features a monthly “Editors’ Letter,” shoppable mood board–inspired lookbooks and even inspirational travel blog posts. Nordstrom uses its blog, The Thread, to offer in-depth profiles of its fashion brands, skincare tips from dermatologists, fashion week trends and more—all shoppable, of course. Levi’s Off the Cuff blog shows shoppers tips on how to wear denim on denim and DIY denim ideas. Aveda’s Living Aveda blog offers easy hair tips and detailed information about their natural products. Even JCPenney has a style blog with tips on everything from how to pick the right flat iron for your hair to finding the right bra.

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 Even brands that don’t have a dedicated style blog or online magazine are creating editorial-inspired experiences on their website and social media platforms. For example, Target’s website offers beauty how-tos and other information-packed, beautifully designed experiences:

So, are these storytelling devices effective when it comes to the bottom line? Until the next big thing in marketing comes along, I predict they’ll continue to be a great way for a brand to tell its story (and demonstrate its fashion and design chops) directly to its customers.