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What's next for HSN after major job cuts? YouTube shows, podcasts and chats with Alexa to connect to younger shoppers

HSN and QVC, both now under the same business unit at Qurate Retail Group, are part of a slew of new programming aimed at younger shoppers.  [File handout photo courtesy of HSN]
HSN and QVC, both now under the same business unit at Qurate Retail Group, are part of a slew of new programming aimed at younger shoppers. [File handout photo courtesy of HSN]
Published Nov. 1, 2018

ST. PETERSBURG — Nearly two weeks after HSN and QVC merged operations and cut 350 jobs, their parent company introduced new social media and digital strategies that veer from traditional at-home TV shopping with hopes to reach younger shoppers.

Qurate Retail Group said both of its at-home shopping networks — which still have their own brand identities but are under the same business unit, "QXH" — will use new podcasts, digital "micro-brands" and voice-activated technology to reach "the next generation of shoppers," according to a news release.

"We are perfectly positioned to capitalize on the explosion of digital video content consumption," CEO Mike George said in a statement. "Our business model was built on marrying video with commerce, so the transition to digital platforms is a natural one for us."

Previous coverage: HSN to cut hundreds of workers as it merges with QVC under new 'QXH' business unit

• At-home shopping shows won't just be on TV anymore: the brands are launching two online-only programs that will be on YouTube, Instagram TV, Facebook Watch and Roku. "One on Wine," launches in early November and "All Made Up" will come later in the month and look at beauty culture in different parts of the country.

• Qurate says it's launching two podcasts which listeners will be able to download on iTunes, Google Play and Spotify called "Shop Culture" and "Basic Beauty." The show focused on shopping will feature designer celebrities such as Isaac Mizrahi and tell their "personal stories through lens of fashion and style." The beauty program already posted six episodes last week.

• Amazon's Alexa, a virtual assistant, will be able to shop HSN and QVC products by early 2019, according to Qurate. Already, Alexa users can use the tool to watch or listen to HSN live or get information about the broadcast and products. The new iteration will allow shoppers to check the company's products, account details and shipping updates in real-time.

• Already aware of the millions of social media videos about makeup dominating the web, Qurate already created "micro-brands" Ellie Sugar and Fuss Beauty in July 2018. The brands, which curate trendy makeup, are dedicated mainly to the Facebook and Instagram market, where makeup artists and beauty bloggers are constantly sharing short makeup videos. Qurate is now deploying those same social media-driven marketing techniques on two fashion brands, Du Jour at QVC and Curations at HSN.

Shortly after Qurate announced the QVC and HSN merger, at-home shopping network expert Budd Margolis told the Tampa Bay Times he expected the company to take more digital steps to better compete with Amazon.

With the increasing popularity of streaming services like Hulu and Netflix, Margolis expects at-home shopping networks' relevancy to continue on its decline.

"QVC realizes that five, seven, 10 years from now, television probably won't exist as it does today," said Margolis, who once worked for the company and is now a London-based consultant. "That's what 'Qurate' is about: repositioning the company to be able to move more into this digital environment."

A Qurate Retail group spokeswoman on Wednesday would not say how many of the 350 layoffs announced earlier this month as part of the restructuring plan will be at the HSN's St. Petersburg's campus. She also did no elaborate on when plans announced to renovate the sprawling HSN campus near Carillon Office Park may begin.

Contact Sara DiNatale at 727-893-8862 or at sdinatale@tampabay.com. Follow @sara_dinatale.