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What Is Linear Commerce?

By Katherine Jacoby | March 26, 2021

What is Linear Commerce?

Linear Commerce [noun]: the concept that the lines between meid and commerce have blurred, creating a need for brands to optimize and leverage multiple digital touch points to attract an audience

What do Red Bull, Barstool Sports, and The Masters have in common? It’s not just that they all function in the sports space, or that they are three incredibly well known brands. It is the way in which they have embraced what Web Smith has coined “linear commerce”, and one could argue that a good portion of their success has stemmed from their success in translating their brand (whether physical product, experience, or publication), to additional mediums. 

Red Bull is an energy drink, but if you ask someone to describe the Red Bull brand they are likely to describe action sports, guys jumping out of planes, or one of the multiple sponsored events that are now synonymous with the Red Bull brand. 

The core concept behind linear commerce is that to be successful in today’s digital economy, brands must embrace digital fully, and create equity in their digital channels by delivering more appealing customer touch points. This isn’t to say that every brand needs to be a Red Bull and build a media company on the back of their product; for many that would be a waste of time and money and a departure from their core brand. What it does mean, is that it is very hard to compete if you say I make this widget, it’s on our website and we'll do some advertising, but that’s all I am going to say about it. 

Consumers have countless options in any category that they wish to shop from; brands need to build experiences and platforms in which to tell their unique brand story, and why they are the best choice for the buyer. It doesn’t have to be extravagant, but it has to be well done.

For example, if you are a specialty bike manufacturer, there is an opportunity to turn your social platforms into a source of inspiration for your core (and hopefully expanding) audience. Showcase the stories behind your orders to create the sense of identity between the viewer and your brand while also demonstrating what makes your bikes unique. Want to drive more traffic to your site, creating a blog to showcase your work and position your team as the experts in the space creates value for both the visitor and the brand, particularly if you can create the vision of what they would want to build with you. 

The most important aspect of any linear commerce approach is that the medium to which a brand expands must compliment the original product, and must be executed at the same level of quality as the overall brand. 

Looking for ways to start leveraging linear commerce? Check out our blog on getting the most from your visual assets and get the inspiration flowing. 

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