Strengthen consumer relationships, offline and online

In the move to become a lifestyle brand, the integration and usage of online and offline goods/services to engage consumers is essential.  Finding new ways to do so, while mitigating the inherent risks and costs is a plus to ensuring the program doesn’t harm the consumer relationship or corporate profitability.

My holiday post about fueling brand zealots focused on consumer brands, like Peeps and Cheetos, who have built e-commerce portals to deliver real world goods to their biggest fans for the holidays. A perfect example of offline goods creating online assets to trigger more offline brand engagement. Peeps created their store in response to consumer demand; Cheetos created their store out of a need for more digital assets as consumer touch points.

Airbnb, an online service that facilitates real-world experiences, is leveraging its real-world consumer engagement into a print magazine through a partnership with Hearst Publishing. How very retro of them, but more importantly engaging.  Chief content officer at Hearst, Joanna Coles explains, that everything in the Airbnb Magazine is sourced from hosts and regular travelers. Which means Airbnb is staying true to its core audience both service providers and product consumers; their symbiotic relationship is the driving force of Airbnb. Documenting those authentic moments under the Airbnb umbrella lends unbelievable consumer strength to the brand. Presumably, the partnership with Hearst is about the costs/risks involved with producing print magazines in an age of free digital content; however, there may be more to the story. Based on what I learned earlier this year from

Presumably, the partnership with Hearst is about the costs/risks involved with producing print magazines in an age of free digital content; however, there may be more to the story. Based on what I learned earlier this year on sponsored content vs paid content from Al Chen the founder of Cooperatize, there may be a bigger play at hand. If the partnership is structured more of a sponsored content production where Hearst handles the production and content independently from Airbnb, there is a significant win to be had with consumers. In other words, if the customer testimony is curated and delivered by a neutral professional entity independent of the sponsor’s influence, the authenticity factor goes through the roof!

Are there other foreseeable opportunities for offline product development for Airbnb as a lifestyle brand?