Beauty site Byrdie is using pop-up shops to drive readers to its affiliate-link business, a core part of the publication’s monetizing strategy.
For its second-ever pop-up, and first in Los Angeles, the brand opted to work with Amazon, which is not sponsoring the event, in order to give visitors a seamless way to purchase products from sponsors like Burt’s Bees, Skin Laundry and Sunday Riley by scanning a QR code that automatically brings up either a website or the Amazon app to purchase. Products span from hair care to makeup and skin care, and customers can also assemble their own sample box for purchase between July 20 and 29.
“Most of our audience shops on Amazon, so when we thought about the smoothest way to take a consumer from experience to purchase, Amazon felt like the most natural partner,” said Marc Rothschild, COO and president of Clique. Byrdie already partners with Amazon as an affiliate retailer in its online shop, along with other retailers like Free People and Ulta. Rothschild added that the pop-up was a natural extension of that partnership.
Hard-pressed to grow revenue through traditional means like advertising, sites like Byrdie are increasingly relying on live events, pop-up shops and commerce links to increase business. Byrdie is owned by Clique — which also owns Who What Wear, College Fashionista and My Domaine, among others — and has been using affiliate links through its editorial content for the past two years. Byrdie previously worked with Nordstrom in December 2017 in New York City for its first pop-up.
Building on the model from its first pop-up, Byrdie added more samples and testers to the store, as well as more educational classes, based on customer feedback. Clique has made collecting data from its readers a central component of its growth strategy, using Facebook groups, web traffic and newsletters, purchase history and demographic data through its Who What Wear shopping app to fuel it. The first pop-up had approximately 2,200 visitors during its two-week activation and surpassed this number within four days at its LA location.
Today, Byrdie sees 4.9 million monthly views across a combination of newsletter subscribers, direct traffic and social media traffic, according to the brand; most of its audience is composed of millennial and Gen-Z women.
Pop-ups are a key part of its growth strategy because it can leverage audience trust without diluting it, according to Rothschild. The editorial team eschews clickbait headlines on Byrdie’s website in order to provide helpful, informative and trusted content, he said. The pop-up not only sells products but also features editorial reviews of products to serve as a Byrdie team sign-off. It’s a strategy that’s worked online: Since the beginning of the year, affiliate-link revenue sales have grown 33 percent, and its overall revenue is up 148 percent since 2015 when Digiday last reported it.
“By remaining disciplined, we are able to build a brand that translated into multiple revenue brands, rather than a traditional scale that applies only to [a traditional] advertising model,” he said.
For Byrdie’s online advertisers and in-store sponsors, the pop-ups also serve as a way to reach customers without having to create their own and under the context of an editorial publication, which offers a built-in audience and additional earned media before, during and after the event.
“As the media landscape has become more fragmented, it’s important for advertisers to reach consumers where they want to be engaged, and it’s important to us because these experiences have influential consumers who want to share socially,” Rothschild said.
Byrdie plans to continue expanding it pop-up strategy and will launch one in New York City in the fall. However, Rothschild is hesitant to refer to pop-ups, opting to use “offline experience” instead, since the temporary stores are meant to be a long-term area of monetary growth for the brand, not just a one-off marketing stunt.