Karmaloop blends lifestyle and entertainment with video commerce

Karmaloop (no. 359 Internet Retailer Top 500, est. ~$40MM in 2008 sales) has always been an aggressive adopter of new technology. As an online retailer catering to the younger set (18 – 35 years old), moving primarily apparel and accessories where success is heavily dependent on fast-changing trends, Karmaloop established itself as a video commerce leader when it dove into video with the launch of Karmaloop TV in November 2007. This section on Karmaloop.com features Karmaloop produced videos including “The Daily Loop,” partner videos, and a slick navigation with prominently featured player:

Karmaloop uses video to build the brand and sell.

Karmaloop uses video to build the brand and sell.

Browsing the videos on Karmaloop is quite a unique retail experience. What struck me as the most fascinating element of Karmaloop TV was the integrated manner in which Karmaloop fuses entertainment, lifestyle, and culture, then connects them to products for sale at Karmaloop.com. For example, check out this video released just last week, on 10/17 (warning – if you’re offended by off color language or – ahem – “revealing artistic renditions” of the Republican VP candidate Sarah Palin, then you might want to check out another video). Anyhow, the video starts out by featuring products for sale at Karmaloop – then quickly cuts to music news and a review of the new film “W.” The video just exudes “cool” and that’s what Karmaloop wants – to align a hip, edgy brand with hip, edgy culture and societal commentary that resonate with its target audience. The viewing experience is quite a bit different than a more traditional ‘shop from home TV’ model ported to the web and as such I thought the audience here would appreciate the look because it teaches us a few lessons important to video commerce success:

1. Use video commerce to support your brand. Most retailers don’t have the ‘edge’ of a Karmaloop, but that doesn’t mean you need edge to succeed with video. Video commerce is nothing more than selling online with video. Understand your audience, then use video to engage.

2. Entertainment absolutely can be used to sell. Everything from the set backdrop, language and mannerisms of the host, to the quick cuts from product segments to culture and lifestyle segments present a congruent user experience and leave the viewer with value beyond the product promotion itself.

3. It’s yet another example of a retailer that’s jumping into video, and in a really clever way. I wouldn’t be surprised to see entertainment and commerce get in bed with one another more often as video begins to take hold online in the retail segment.