Karmaloop Bets Big on Branded Content

Retailer Karmaloop is after a special consumer: the “verge” culture of global tech-savvy early adopters. To appeal to this ad-averse group, the streetwear maker — sneakers, skateboarding gear and the like — Karmaloop is pulling a Red Bull.

KarmaloopTV, Karmaloop.com’s online video channel, provides an inside look at all elements that fuel verge culture. The KarmaloopTV site features exclusive interviews with designers, brands, artists and musicians, as well as behind-the-scenes coverage of events and parties, which emphasize the street-culture phenomenon at large.

KarmaloopTV’s current programming has expanded to include regular programs such as: “The Buyer Wire,” “The Daily Loop,” “Globaloop,” “The Johnny Polygon Show,” “The Kelly Show” and “Their Words.” The irreverent tone is what you’d expect from a brand that’s “about us” page pledges to “keep killing shit from now to eternity.”

The video channel garnered 70 million video views in 2011 and is projecting 350 million views in 2012. The site isn’t a hard sell for anything. It doesn’t shove Karmaloop products down your throat. It is a separate experience from the retailer’s e-commerce site. It is more of a community of like-minded individuals consuming content they find interesting and might like to share with friends who have the same interests. Karmaloop TV is a social media destination unto itself.

“Web TV and commerce are a match made in heaven because anything you can use to articulate the story behind clothing and how it looks and how it can make you look better is a powerful tool,” said Greg Selkoe, CEO of Karmaloop, who lists his cell phone number on the Karmaloop site as a sign of the company’s accessibility. “And nothing conveys a message like video.”

That’s a road traveled by larger brands at a time when everyone rushes to proclaim themselves a publisher. Red Bull is probably the shining example. But others like American Express are also making content a central part of their marketing strategies.

Right now, Karmaloop is not able to quantify the results it is seeing with its Karmaloop TV offering. Selkoe said the retailer is seeing some cross-pollination, meaning a lot of the people who visit Karmaloop TV also buy from the brand. But he is unsure of whether Karmaloop TV was the cause for their purchase on the karmaloop.com website. Selkoe also said another opportunity for retailers with video is giving consumers a product view via video. Karmaloop even tested clickable videos that drive consumers to purchase, and the company will be implementing these later in the year.

“Anything that a brand can do to bring people together is going to work in the favor of that brand,” Selkoe said. “With Karmaloop TV, the experience is social because we allow users to share with one another. But it is important to note that if you are going to be making real content, you have to be good at it. Otherwise, you can damage the brand.”



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