Is Making the Cut Amazon’s best retail idea yet? Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn left Project Runway to lead Amazon Prime’s new show. And perhaps create one of the savviest shopper funnels ever.

Amazon uses social media influencers and fashion titles to create lists with direct links to purchase clothes, shoes, jewelry and decor from Amazon. Sites such as LIKEtoKNOW.it are a direct pipeline to Amazon products and shopping carts. Bored fashionistas on Instagram find an outfit and click directly through to Amazon. The Insta-star gets a monthly cut of every purchase they send Amazon’s way. Using this strategy, People, Popsugar, In Style, Elle and Stylecaster have a new revenue stream for their online editions.

But the new Making the Cut series (premieres March 27) is next-level brilliant. The concept is similar to other fashion designer competition shows like Project Runway or Netflix’s Next In Fashion. Designers battle in each episode to create clothing to become the sole winner. For Making the Cut, the winner will get $1 million and the opportunity to design an exclusive line for Amazon Fashion. But what sets this show apart is that each week, the designers will create two looks. One that competes for judgement and one that will be sold on Amazon.

The winning designer’s look each episode will be available for viewers to purchase for $100 or less on Amazon. It is a winning combination for Amazon. It creates exclusive content for its digital service, builds audience excitement and demand for a product AND is the exclusive outlet for the product. Maybe for the first time, the Amazon Prime channel makes strategic sense from a retail perspective.

Not the First

Project Runway tried this strategy before. It selected JCPenney as its retail partner to carry winning looks from its 2019 All Stars season. Both brands were sullied. JCPenney “ended the collaboration” before the episodes aired. Chalk it up to the very messy Weinstein proceedings who had – then didn’t have – production rights for Project Runway. It brokered the failed agreement with JCPenney. In the end, JCP paid over $1.4 million for rights that it could not exercise. Fans were angry. Not good when  JCP needs any vehicle it can find to be relevant among stylish shoppers.

Project Runway’s latest season includes the opportunity to purchase selected designs from Nineteenth Amendment but prices range from a $155 Turtleneck to a $1270 dress. Not exactly within the grasp of the average viewer.

Enter Amazon and Making the Cut who seem to have a winning idea with designers challenged to reimagine their original design to meet the production (cost) limits of fast-fashion a la Amazon Fashion. Amazon is betting the show and a price point under $100 is the winning combination.

What do you think? Is this Amazon’s best retail idea?

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