HIPO OFFERS TEENS WEB CLOUT
Byline: Cynthia Redecker
NEW YORK — As junior sportswear companies beef up their presence in cyberspace and lifestyle portals promise the latest information on what’s hot in the teen world, the Web is becoming a crowded zone.
A recent addition is Hipo.com, which launched last month as an “integrated teen lifestyle destination.”
Combining e-commerce and teen-oriented content, the site bills itself as a seamless lifestyle and shopping destination that targets girls and boys between the ages of 12 and 19.
“We wanted to create a brand on the Web that had the same meaning that MTV has for teenagers,” said Tim Cobb, one of the founders of the site and its chief executive officer. “We concluded that we had to have a lifestyle offering as well as an e-commerce opportunity that empowered teens and so took a more integrated approach to marketing and branding.”
With a private investment of $4 million, Cobb teamed with Manoj Murjani, formerly of the Murjani Fashion Group, to produce a site with content targeted to teens that also sells apparel, accessories, cosmetics, DVDs, videos and CDs.
Revenues generated from e-commerce are expected to fuel the site while a developed brand message underpins its credibility in the teen marketplace, according to Cobb.
Cobb said the “hipCard” is the financial tool to encourage spending — a digitized cash card that enables teens to make purchases online if they don’t have a credit card.
The site’s e-commerce capability for young women is offered in the “Downtown” section in different lifestyle rubrics, including “Diva Next Door,” “Freestyler” and “Gear,” an accessories section, or by brand or item, explained Murjani, who is executive vice president of fashion.
There are roughly 40 junior and young men’s brands featured and about 1000 stockkeeping units available on the site. A number of technological features are also built into the Downtown section that are interactive and include “Mix and Match,” where customers can select items from any category and pair them, and “Get Ups,” where customers see a figure modeling clothes and can purchase the entire outfit.
The “Web Roam” is another proprietary technological feature designed to replicate the real-world teen shopping experience. It allows teens to communicate with each other as they visit, and presumably, shop the site.
The O-Zone section boasts the full array of lifestyle offerings on the site on subjects relating to the teen market — from extensive information on movies, videos, television shows and music to upbeat celebrity profiles.
“Currently, teen Web sites offer either e-commerce or are community-based or entertainment-driven. But there is no site that combines all the elements,” said Asha Appel, the site’s editor in chief.
The site features a host of celebrities, called “HipOs” who have their own pages, complete with profiles, interviews and commentary. At the “Celebrity Closet,” a user can emulate the style of a HipO with a direct link to Downtown, where she can purchase a desired item of clothing, such as actress Rachael Leigh Cook’s favorite tube top or singer Monica’s fringed jeans.
All the content is interactive, noted Appel.
“What differentiates us from other sites,” she said, “is the fact that we are fully integrated.”
She said users are empowered with the ability to use their own financial tools, make fashion decisions and be provided with interactive entertainment.