Personnel

New Netflix Hire Signals Contextual Commerce Focus

Imagine this: You are watching a movie or TV show at home —it’s been a long week and you are vegging out, a glass a wine on the table — and you decide you like a shirt worn by one of the characters, or that you enjoy a particular documentary so much that you want to further explore the subject via a book. You use your remote or mobile device to make such a purchase before giving all your attention back to the action on the screen.

You’ve just had a contextual commerce experience.

Is that where Netflix is headed? A new hire suggests so.

The content provider has named Disney veteran Christie Fleischer as the company’s head of its global products team, a new position. She’ll reportedly “oversee retail and licensee partnerships, publishing, interactive games, merchandising and experiential events.” Her job involves “developing the consumer products portfolio across all categories for Netflix original series and films.”

Products and Licensing

Fleischer will build upon the experience gained at Disney, where her most recent job was head of merchandise for parks, experiences and consumer products. The work involved product development and strategy, licensing, Disney Stores, sourcing and other areas.

“She has helped to build some of the world’s most beloved brands and we’re thrilled that she will join us to give our fans more opportunities to interact with Netflix in new and exciting ways,” said Netflix Chief Marketing Officer Kelly Bennett.

Netflix offered no further details about how Fleischer might craft new revenue streams for the content provider, but a job description posted prior to her hiring described “books, comics, gaming toys, collectibles, soundtracks and apparel” as possible licensing opportunities. Merchandising, after all, is a not only a solid way to make more money off content, but a way to drum up interest in the original property — just take the nearest time machine back to 1977 and ask George Lucas.

Fleischer’s hiring comes amid membership concerns about Netflix. In the second quarter, the company added 5.2 million subscribers, about one million below its 6.2 million forecast, a shortfall that spooked investors. Netflix forecasted that, for the third quarter of 2018, the company will gain 5.5 million net additions to its membership, compared with 5.3 million for the same period last year. Paid net additions will reach 5.2 million, up from five million in the third quarter of 2017.

Contextual Awareness

The hiring of the former Disney exec also happens at a time of growing awareness of contextual commerce.

That phrase describes a process that revolves around “discovery.” A potential consumer might visit a social media site, or a site that streams TV show and movies, with the main goal of viewing content, learning something or digitally hanging out with like-minded people. That person may have only a vague intention of buying something — or no intention at all — but follows an impulse and buys an item tied to the content and the original desire for discovery.

According to research from the PYMNTS and Braintree Contextual Commerce Report, 48 percent of consumers have tried that shopping experience at least once. And those who have tried contextual commerce generally are seeking efficiency, as 59 percent of consumers who have tried it report using the online retail method for a faster buying experience. “Who doesn’t like an expedited experience?” asked Azita Habibi, business development lead at Braintree.

The report also found that the average age of a contextual commerce shopper stands at 39 years old. Overall, 68.9 percent of contextual commerce users reported a positive experience, with 1.7 percent reporting negative experiences. A further 29.4 percent reported “mixed” experiences.

Contextual commerce is a fledgling trend, but having Netflix succeed at it would add more fuel to that effort.

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