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How the MensXP Shop became the rising star of a media entity

MensXP’s Angad Bhatia speaks on the amalgamation of content and commerce

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KOLKATA: As a top-rung digital publication dedicated to men’s lifestyle, MensXP has been going through a massive transformation since adding commerce to its bouquet. The switchover from being a media entity to full-fledged retail operations wasn’t easy or hiccup-free, but the new segment has gradually emerged as one of the fastest growing lines of business, adding 45-50 new marketplaces, direct-to-consumer (d2c) brands every month, revealed MensXP founder and Indiatimes Lifestyle Network Angad Bhatia.

Along with hosting other brands on its virtual shop, the lifestyle content-commerce platform also launched men’s beauty brand Mud in 2019. The brand was born after realising the ever-evolving needs of modern men, said Bhatia, adding that MensXP Shop is catering to this massive population that is underserved by mainstream brands.

“Fashion is an intensely personal expression. Consumption behaviour for lifestyle content has moved from the elite to more encompassing and democratic in India. At MensXP, we have been championing this change with ‘Newhood’ which essentially explores codes of masculinity and encourages men to be progressive and explore issues that often get brushed aside under the garb of being macho,” he stated.

But adding commerce to the business has not been the only change; the content programming side has also witnessed a major switch-up. When MensXP started in 2009, it was broadly built on search engine optimisation and Google was the primary platform of discovery. According to Bhatia, the content programming was built around the day to day needs of Indian men, to help them across all lifestyles topics including fashion, grooming and navigate their social lives.

“However, while our intent and our objective for MensXP did not change, the major change was in the way people were discovering content. While our thoughts remain as a consistent strength, what changed the dynamics of our content programming was actually the rise of Facebook in India,” he shared.

With the rise of social media platforms, content programming has morphed from being platform agnostic to platform specific, Bhatia remarked. He reaffirmed that their intent to stay as a progressive voice of men has stayed the same, even as platforms and formats have multiplied. For instance, there was no video or interactive content when MensXP started its journey. Now, the platform builds almost 90 interactive stories on a daily basis. Additionally, a lot of those stories are now even indexable by Google.

“The MensXP reader-base is well-informed and feeds on the latest in men’s fashion, lifestyle and grooming. There is a lot of information freely available on a search but trust takes years to build so we are selective and self-critical to keep improving our content mix. We aim at progressive and holistic programming for the evolving needs of the new-age man. #HisMentalHealth is one such section devoted to the underserved and largely misunderstood category of mental health,” Bhatia said.

Time spent on the website per user per session currently stands around three and a half minutes. Commerce has transformed the metrics as users who engage both on content and commerce spend 12 to 13 minutes across media and commerce. Bhatia mentioned that one of the most noteworthy data received from the commerce business is that a huge demand is coming from tier-2 and tier-3 English speaking audiences.

MensXP currently offers solutions for brands across four verticals. The first vertical focuses specifically on video IPs like reviews on YouTube, popular shows on Facebook or Instagram. Another line of solutions is around branded text content. Along with usual content, many brands are keen on getting content written from thought leaders and popular industry voices. The third vertical is largely based on interactive content. And, the newest sort of branded content is the amalgamation of commerce and content.  

“We believe that in the larger sort of marketplace ecosystem and the e-commerce ecosystem, we are the only company in India which offers a full stack from top of the funnel to bottom of the funnel solution by promoting a video on YouTube to buying the product on MensXP shop,” Bhatia signed off.

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