As you tap through your Snapchat feed, scroll through Instagram, and cruise the front page of your favorite shopping site, you'll notice brands suddenly have a lot to say about themselves. They're making sure you know where they hail from (probably a cool Scandinavian place), how they source their fabrics or ingredients, and they've made a short film to really drive home their "vibe," possibly with real actors (like Zosia Mamet for Kate Spade, and Kimiko Glenn for H&M x Vogue).
It's not just brands that are going story-heavy, but publishers, too. For instance, New York magazine's shopping site The Strategist positions anecdotal experience when recommending pants, shirts, or even home decor to buy. Function is a huge factor in this type of narrative, of course, but so is the way a person feels when they pull on the perfect pair of black jeans, for example. The pieces on The Strategist go beyond "buy this thing" and instead focus on how the thing will make you feel.
The narrative approach to talking about product is moving beyond traditional storytelling methods, like magazines, and into social platforms with shoppable functionality. Ello—a network of user-submitted illustrations, photographs, and community events—has teamed up with Revel, a shopping app, to deliver a shoppable social experience hinged on narrative.
"We've crafted a curated mobile shopping experience built on storytelling." –David La Melza, president of Revel
"We've crafted a curated, mobile shopping experience built on storytelling," says David La Melza, president of Revel. The app pulls together brands they believe in and pushes out creative visuals to inspire people to shop featured items. "We believe in humanizing the experience, and that brands are more than just a product and a price tag. We aim to build bridges and true emotional connections." With its Ello partnership, Revel hopes to open more doors for brands to get noticed by an increasingly diverse group of followers, who may ultimately become customers.
So, how do you feel after watching that?
La Melza mentions he's been eyeing Ello for a while. "On Ello, independent creators can connect and create, developing their own ecosystem," he says. "It's a clear alignment of how we view brands and our own influencers."
This shift in changing the way people think about shopping could be impacting you more than you think. On one hand, it is a sort of mind-control plan that encourages spending, because the more you learn about something and feel a personal connection to it, the more you'll want to buy it. In a sense, this process has been reinterpreted many times over the history of, well, commerce.
On the plus side, brands are becoming more transparent about how they go about making and selling their products, especially when ethical standards—such as cheap labor and environmental dangers—pose even a personal threat to customers.
Anyway, get in, people, we're still going shopping!