In today's world of content clutter, it's no longer enough for brands to write a few blogs and post a few times a week on social media. Successful businesses must find a way to stand out. Marketers and business owners must work to develop content that is of value to their customers and helps form a relationship that benefits both parties. Sometimes, that means thinking out of the box and creating an entirely new platform.
Cost Plus World Market did just that this month with the launch of CRAFT. It's an entirely new way to shop the world, spotlighting individual artisans making rare, unusual and authentic goods. And while this is a retail platform with technology that empowers both the buyer and the maker, it's also a form of content marketing. That's because the discount retailer for home goods and specialty food products is focusing on showcasing the stories behind the goods.
Never imagined you needed a Bangladeshi rickshaw? Once you read the story of this emblem of traditional "people's art", you'll see it's more than just a cheap mode of transportation in Southeast Asia. In fact, this vibrantly painted and decorated piece of art could have a place in your home.
CRAFT’s Bangladeshi Rickshaw is made by a team of carpenters, painters, tailors, and artisans who assemble each bicycle by hand, and decorate it using traditional materials, such as fabric, brass, paint, plastic, and paper.
The only problem is all that handcrafted beauty comes with a hefty price tag of $3000.
What is CRAFT?
CRAFT is a curated online marketplace. Its goal is to marry artisans who would never have an opportunity to showcase their products to the world with an online shopping community that would never have exposure to these types of limited edition, handmade products. It's a niche space that opens up a channel that would have never existed otherwise.
How CRAFT Works
Merchants scour the world for these authentic, unusual products and feature them for a limited time (typically 30 days) on World Market's website. If enough people pre-order an item within the time frame, the product will be brought to life. Shoppers are encouraged to share items they like on Facebook, Pinterest and other social networks so the product has enough pre-orders for World Market to produce it. These items can't be found in the retail stores and are exclusive to the CRAFT collection.
CRAFT is an excellent example of the globalization of ecommerce. But it's more than just online shopping, it's an actual retail experience that brings exposure to areas of the world that wouldn't normally get it. Facebook is also hoping to use technology to connect people. It recently acquired UK-based Ascenta and its employees will join the Facebook team working on connectivity aircraft. Mark Zuckerberg says it's his mission to connect everyone in the world to the internet.
It's that feeling of connection that drives shopping decisions these days. In fact, right after the launch of CRAFT, shoppers took to Facebook to ask about fair trade practices. Cost Plus wasted no time in assuring them of their committment to human rights of all workers involved in their product supply chains and linking to their social compliance practices.
This transparent, authentic approach to storytelling is something we discuss at length in our book "Brands in Glass Houses". In it, we talk about Patagonia as another example of a company who has earned respect for its genuine business practices and commitment to environmental integrity. Check out their Footprint Chronicles, an interactive tool that lets you track the environmental impact of a specific Patagonia product from its initial design to material sources through store delivery.
If you're interested in dozens of more examples of how companies are using unique content and storytelling to sell successfully, check out our book Brands in Glass Houses.