MINNEAPOLIS— Evine Live has been busy over the past year advancing a strategy that employs celebrities, product designers and brands, many of them touting exclusive home products, to help it attract and build relationships with consumers in broadcast, online and, increasingly, social media retailing.
Indeed, the company is refreshing the operation with pitch programming developed for existing main video channels including satellite and cable broadcasting, while developing new approaches to consumers via dedicated social media vehicles.
Evine is responding to opportunities that today’s marketplace offers, including the pending merger and reconfiguration of its two major direct competitors, with a multifaceted approach to electronic retailing. In doing so, Evine intends to partner with new celebrities and designers while expanding the range and scope of the brands it offers.
In executing its strategy, Evine slated a fall programming lineup that included showcases such as the debut of Love Bites with Carnie Wilson of pop group Wilson Philips, NFL Official Merchandise and Gemporia Jewelry as well as new installments of Sweet Home Savannah with chef Paula Deen, Donny Osmond Home, MacKenzie-Childs and V by Vanessa Williams.
In addition, Evine, just a few weeks ago, rolled out the Beekman 1802 Mercantile collection. From Josh Kilmer-Purcell and Brent Ridge, who were the focus of “The Fabulous Beekman Boys” reality television series, the Mercantile lineup debuted in time for the holiday shopping season with a giftable assortment of beauty items, confections and home-related products.
The Beekman 1802 brand has become one of Evine’s most popular lifestyle labels, and now includes bath and body products, and cleaning and laundry items.
Rob Ellerstein, Evine, general merchandise manager/home, told HOMEWORLD BUSINESS® that the celebrities Evine takes on as partners, whether coming out of the broader entertainment world or gaining fame in reality TV, are chosen for their authentic connections with the products Evine showcases in the broadcast and online businesses.
“Donny Osmond, Paula Deen and others we’ve developed product collections with have been great,” he said. “Our formula of success includes an engaging and authentic personality behind the product. Our customers and fans can see right through someone if they are not able to make a strong connection to the product. Both Donny and Paula fit the bill and come alive when they speak about their products and engage with Evine customers, whether on social media or live on TV during a testimonial call. They have brought their own fan bases to Evine and introduced a new audience to our platform, which has been a win-win for all.”
Connecting With Home
For the past year, home-related merchandise has been a focus as Evine has looked at expanding its customer base.
“Our goal is to offer variety and a well-balanced assortment that excites our existing customer and attracts new customers,” said Michael Henry, Evine chief merchandising officer. “This year, Evine has been focused on growing the home area with the successful introductions of MacKenzie-Childs, Donny Osmond Home and Royal Albert in tabletop and home décor, in addition to Akos the Solutionist in home storage and organization, John O’Hurley in pet products and Beekman, which we’ve expanded from bath and body into cleaning, food, seasonal and home décor.”
The decision to expand home proved fortunate. “The strategy is working. Evine’s home category is one of our fastest growing divisions in 2017,” Henry said.
Bob Rosenblatt, Evine CEO, told HomeWorld Business, “We have been making conscious decisions this past year to rebalance our merchandise mix to make way for new brands and more profitable categories. This shift is allowing Evine to diversify programming and attract new customers, as well as re-engage our existing customer base. We are also deeply tapped into where retail is going in the future and are utilizing artificial intelligence and machine learning to help us become smarter as we continually experiment with new technologies such as virtual and augmented reality to provide unique experiences for our customers.”
Evine has sought partners and brands that can provide a unique proposition to its customer in terms of products but also in terms of presentation.
“We establish ourselves for shoppers through the unique experiences we offer,” Henry said. “It is important for our customers to find unique and exclusive product offerings, brands and values. Close to 90% of the products we offer have been developed exclusively for Evine, either in terms of configuration or completely different product lines. Working with our partners, we have been able to curate an assortment that is tailored to our customer base and provides them an experience that is entertaining, educational and always with an eye on quality and value.”
The ability to communicate directly with consumers can be an advantage both to Evine and those brands that work with it if they can use the retailer’s guidance to build relationships.
“Evine is targeting emerging and established brands to form collaborations that fill a white space in our assortment,” Henry said. “These brands value our multiple sales and video platforms— on air, web and social— but also recognize Evine provides a marketing vehicle for their brand to speak directly to their consumer and tell their brand and product story in new and engaging ways. Many of the brands we collaborate with understand the value of storytelling to bring their product to life.”
Building A Digital Base
As it looks to build its customer base, Evine is adapting as it and the marketplace shape opportunities.
“Our online channels and alternative distribution is where we are investing in for growth,” Rosenblatt said. “Our shelf space, so to speak, on TV, is limited in that we only have a certain number of minutes in a day we present product, and so we are looking to our digital platforms as where we can promote growth. We have created new channels of live programming that provide unique content and product on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram. We have seen our online channel surpass 50% of our total sales, with particular strength in mobile now that smart phones are in almost every home, even homes that have been slower to adopt other technologies. Our ability to provide content and engagement touch points on different platforms allow our customers to interact with us whenever and however they choose.”
In part, it is the evolution of the operation that prompts the company to seek out new products and new partners even as it deals with the realities of being a mass market retailer.
“Our assortment is constantly evolving. As we look to fill white space, we seek out product categories that our customers are asking for, while also identifying the categories or products we need,” Henry said.
Of course, the broadcast/e-commerce channel in the marketplace has undergone substantial change with QVC’s pending purchase of HSN. Rosenblatt indicated that Evine’s growth will be based on its internal dynamics, but he emphasized that the company is capable of making quick moves.
“We are always looking for new and unique products and brands, as well as shopping experiences, to offer our customers,” he said. “Leveraging video across all platforms such as YouTube, Facebook and Instagram, which we’ve been successfully doing for almost 30 years, as well as the experts personally tied to the product they are selling, allows us to tell the full brand story and make a personal connection with the viewer. We are interested in brands and personalities with a compelling story, unique and demonstrable product, and an exclusive value. Being incredibly nimble, which is a strength of ours, also allows us to quickly act on a trend, whether it’s a product trend, a technology trend or a customer experience trend.”
Investing In The Future
As it proceeds, Evine plans to build on the relationship it has established across and beyond the retail platform it operates today.
“We take a lot of pride in the fact that we are incredibly nimble in how we operate, and we also treat our partnerships with the brands we work with as special relationships,” Rosenblatt said. “These relationships are important to Evine as we expand our offerings, many times paving the way for new relationships.”
As such, Evine plans to keep investing in the core operation even as it considers how it can build its customer base.
“As we further expand our video commerce omnichannel platform, social media continues to be a way in which we can reach a different audience, as well as provide unique content to our current customer base,” Rosenblatt said. “We are working to build a younger social following and awareness to the Evine brand.”
With new and updated presentations on the video channel keeping the operation on an even keel, Evine will continue refine its navigation as it seeks broader horizons. The company is using a variety of vehicles, including Facebook Live, to provide fresh methods of reaching younger consumers.
“We will continue to leverage video commerce omnichannel platforms to create a highly dynamic shopping experience. That, along with the launch of new specialty brands, which will rely less on TV and more on social, mobile, community and interactive advertising, will help propel Evine into the next generation of interactive retail commerce,” said Rosenblatt.