Mike George

Qurate Retail Group sure can draw a memorable crowd.

Suzanne Somers, Josie Maran and celebrity makeup artist Mally Roncal were just a few of the QVC hosts who mingled with industry executives at Wednesday night’s CEW program in New York, a conversation with Mike George, Qurate’s president and chief executive officer.

George, formerly ceo of QVC, was appointed to his new position earlier this month, following the formation of Qurate after Liberty Interactive Corp.’s acquisition of HSN. Qurate’s purview encompasses QVC, HSN, Zulily, Ballard Designs, Frontgate, Garnet Hill, Grandin Road and Improvements.

Much of the beauty industry’s speculation about Qurate has revolved around whether it will merge QVC and HSN, its two home shopping networks. Qurate generates $2 billion in beauty sales annually between QVC and HSN, said George, who asserted that the networks will continue to operate as separate entities with very little cross-pollination between platforms.

“We want both QVC and HSN to have their own brand identities,” he said. “We’re less focused on differentiation and more on how we can build a great beauty business. That starts with keeping brand portfolios fairly distinct — at this point, we’re trying to keep things fairly separate.”

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There is also Beauty iQ, QVC’s beauty-oriented platform that launched in 2017. It is aimed at the digitally native generations and takes “more of a YouTube vibe” with its content, which is more education and tutorial focused. George said Qurate will continue to use Beauty iQ as a means of experimentation in communicating with younger consumers. “Beauty iQ…is still a traditional broadcast network, but it’s also [a way of determining], ‘How is that consumer who may not watch traditional television anymore, but is watching us through Facebook Live, how is she connected with us?'”

One opportunity for QVC and HSN to intermingle is on Qurate’s app platforms.

“A very small early stage example is what our team has done with Roku,” said George. Both QVC and HSN have Roku channels. “If you download our Roku app and watch television through Roku, you’re seeing all three of our live networks on the screen — you pick which one you want to watch and are interested in. There’s all this on-demand content as well. We’re learning how to speak to the customer and drive her to that content….I like to to talk to the team about what would it mean to be the Netflix of commerce, and maybe Qurate is that. We have a separate app for HSN and separate app for QVC, but maybe there’s one Qurate experience that becomes known as…this amazing place for video shopping experiences. If you love QVC, there are  multiple QVC experiences and on-demand content, there’s HSN content, Zulily content, but also maybe a marketplace with other videos. These marketplaces are changing and they’re enabling new behaviors.…How do test our way through those?”

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