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Retailers cherish IRL events and direct mail

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Mar 20, 2024
Tastemade's McCall Gridley speaking with her hand held up in a leopard print blouse

Tastemade's McCall Gridley. Photo: Paola Nazati for Axios

Retailers and commerce publishers are embracing in-person events and direct mail, executives shared Tuesday at an Expert Voices roundtable that was part of the What's Next Summit in Washington, D.C.

Why it matters: Even with all the growth of online shopping and digital advertising, tangible experiences create brand loyalty.

What they're saying: Tastemade's head of sales and partner experience McCall Gridley said brands typically come to the publisher for digital and streaming partnerships, but she has seen a surge in "content-led plus experiential."

  • "We talk a lot about how do you build an ecosystem with your content," Gridley said.
  • Hello Sunshine's senior vice president of growth Kristin Perla said her company seeks to "bring to life" Reese's Book Club, noting 240 billion views of BookTok videos on TikTok. It recently partnered with Sheraton to offer libraries and in-person programming.
  • Strong brands have "deep knowledge of who your customer is and how you help connect that person physically and digitally through your brand as opposed to to your brand," said Caroline Gardner, head of brand marketing and experience at The RealReal.

The intrigue: Gardner noted the power of direct mail, which received nods of agreement throughout the roundtable.

  • "[We are] in the age of all these opportunities for content across technology, and some of the best performance is still happening with direct mail," Gardner said.
  • "We're still people, after all," said Doriel Abrahams, principal technologist at Forter. "Some things aren't changing. At the end of the day, we're all people who need actual, physical, tangible things."
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