"We always say we are editorially led but data driven," says Katherine Power, co-founder and CEO of Clique Media Group, which owns the sites Who What Wear, Byrdie and MyDomaine and in March announced a new social media-only brand called Obsessee. But unlike Hearst's Sweet, another new, fashion-focused digital entity launched this year and produced especially for Snapchat's Discover platform, Obsessee is not bound to a single mobile platform and has no website. And it has a very specific audience: Generation Z girls ages 14 to 22 who value approachability, inclusivity and authenticity from the brands with which they interact: women who will grow up to read and buy from Clique's other sites. And if Obsessee resonates with readers, Clique plans to use it as a model for monetizing branded social media content across the company.
"We just got really excited about the opportunity to publish native content for these platforms, content that's created specifically for each platform and then also to get excited about the ideas around monetization," says Power. "We wanted to create a brand that would live on social media in order to test this concept and at the same time we really wanted to usher in the next set of consumers."
In line with their focus on data, Clique researched Generation Z girls through a study and focus groups and confirmed that they avoid websites and interact with content primarily through social media platforms. And unlike millennials, they prefer to receive information from individuals rather than brands. "What's more important to them is that they have a true one-to-one connection with whoever is speaking to them," says Power. "They are very aware of the fact that they are being marketed to and when they are, they appreciate a brand that really understands how to talk to them," says Alex Taylor, Clique's VP of digital strategy and content.
And where to talk to them: Obsessee is currently on Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Tumblr, Spotify, Periscope and Google Plus. "Our brand is not tethered down to Snapchat or a dot com or Instagram," says Taylor. "She might start focusing her time on Kik [a mobile messaging platform] and we need to be there."
What is consistent is Obsessee's conversational and positive tone, dictated by its young editors and contributors. "When you look at the millennial set, you really see this mean girl era — exclusivity, insider — but for Obsessee and the Gen-Z generation, it's very much about inclusiveness," says Taylor. "They are the 'you can sit with us' generation."
Obsessee focuses on the "content tentpoles" that are trending with readers: events like Coachella and prom are covered by product roundups on Facebook or a Snapchat story following an editor as she styles looks at a vintage store. The content is all unique to the brand — "there’s a whole entirely different content production process," says Taylor — and ranges in focus from fashion to food and music. Every product highlighted by the brand costs less than $50. "They don't have a lot of disposable income," says Taylor. "Otherwise they are dipping into their parents' pocket, so really price consciousness is very important to them."
The editors take advantage of the latest features, filters and plug-ins such as Facebook Live and Snapchat's fast forward and rewind options. "We are able to benefit from the most amazing CMS's in the world, and their constant updates and innovations," says Power.
Supported by Clique's graphic design team and social media director, Obsessee's editorial team, currently a "handful of editors," is still coming together. Danielle Prescod, formerly of InStyle and Elle, was initially hired as managing editor, but Taylor noted that "we have reevaluated the team" and "at this time she's currently not working with us." Obsessee's first editor, Madeline Sensibile, already had a blog with that name and is a former Clique intern. "Maddie was one of [Taylor and Power's] muses as they were studying the Gen Z demo more closely, so when it came time to finding a name for that brand, Obsessee was a seamless fit," says a rep for the brand. Clique plans to recruit a diverse team of young contributors in Paris, Puerto Rico and other cities around the world, as well as from other brands: Allure's Kristie Dash has a weekly Snapchat "show," for example.
The end game is highly tailored content for every relevant platform, especially branded content. "We see a really big opportunity in selling in native content to these platforms in the future, whether it's on behalf of brands as a content agency or through our own content, through Who What Wear, Byrdie or MyDomaine," says Power. "We thought this was perfect match: we can get to know Gen Z, but also test this concept of platform publishing and monetization."
Tumblr Photo: Miranda Barnes