The pandemic has been a catalyst for major changes in consumer behaviours. Consumers have begun spending more time online and on social media which has resulted in a higher demand for live content and entertainment.
As consumers were starved of real-life connections, they began favouring social media platforms that enabled them to have the level of connectivity they craved in a time when they were unable to connect with friends and family. Livestreaming offers consumers a more personal form of entertainment—they feel included as they are able to interact with hosts in real time and have questions answered immediately. This has resulted in new platforms emerging and existing social media platforms developing their livestreaming capabilities to offer a more personal engagement channel.
These developments have allowed brands to connect with consumers in a whole new way. Younger generations have begun growing up with platforms such as TikTok and Instargam, resulting in livestreaming being as normalised as texting. Consequently, these upcoming generations will expect the same real-time engagement they have with friends, with brands too.
The Growth of Livestream Shopping
Livestream shopping has been a readily-available and booming industry in China for the past few years. In China, more than 100 million viewers watch a live online video event every month and over $400 billion of products will be sold through livestream shopping by 2022. China’s top online marketplace predicts over 500 billion transactions will be made between 2018 and 2021 through online livestreaming platforms.
Although not as popular as in China, livestream shopping has been a rapidly growing industry in the Western market thanks to the introduction of live shopping capabilities on Amazon Live and social platforms such as TikTok, Instagram and Facebook.
Harvey Nichols began livestreaming events back in 2018 and between 2019 and 2020, saw an increase in use of 739%. In Western markets, consumers are now 21 times more likely to make a purchase from a retailer that has begun incorporating new engagement strategies.
Who’s getting involved in Livestream Shopping?
L’Oreal has begun using the Canadian livestreaming app Livescale to host interactive, shoppable virtual events. Livescale integrates shopping links directly into its platform, a shopping function Instagram Live only offers US-based creators with access to Instagram Checkout.
L’Oreal has begun selling products from Urban Decay and Lancôme so far. It is using the platform to provide live makeup tutorials that allow hosts to directly interact and engage viewers by answering questions, offering discounts and encouraging purchases by offering a live review and demonstration.
Its next livestream event will be a makeup tutorial from Urban Decay on July 7th and there have been promises of giveaways to audience members.
Orca is a platform-agnostic retail opportunity currently available on platforms such as Amazon Live, Instagram and YouTube. Orca showcases live and taped segments of influencers promoting products from all sorts of industries including fashion accessories, kitchen essentials, beauty, tech and children’s toys. It currently uses a team of hosts in its livestreams, helping audience members build trust with an individual rather than a platform.
In a recent livestream, Orca drew in over 22,000 viewers and nearly 250 product clicks. Another, hosted on Amazon Live, attracted over 110,000 viewers and 3,223 product clicks.
Orca’s current operations give smaller, independent businesses their own platforms to break through with and target real people with their products. The platform has plans to enlist celebrity hosts and to debut a creator app that will open the opportunity to everyone from models and fitness instructors to bartenders and teachers.
As part of its “Small Biz Day” showcase event, YouTube experimented with a new livestream shopping experience. Revealed as part of the showcase, viewers of the livestream shopping could even buy products directly.
The showcase featured 20 small businesses promoting gift suggestions for the summer. The aim of offering the shoppable livestreams is to appeal to businesses that have already advertised on Facebook or Instagram, but not YouTube.
The decision to develop livestream shopping stems from consumers using YouTube to discover new brands and products. The platform plans to invest more into making itself shoppable over time.
TikTok has begun rolling out livestream shopping to select brands on the platform. Accessible through a brand’s official TikTok page or natively in For You Pages, viewers can instantly shop products featured within the Live by clicking a cart button, or through a pinned product that is viewable on the screen.
Users are given the option to pick sizing, shipment and pay within TikTok. At present, it seems as if customers can only purchase one product at a time through the “Buy Now” option as there is no customer cart available.
Amazon Live is the ecommerce giant’s live-stream shopping platform and has become a popular location for brands to host product launches. Over 2020, Amazon began encouraging its influencers to sell products on Amazon Live and has hosted big virtual events, including having Gabrielle Union and Jessica Alba appear on a Live during Prime Day.
The broadcasts are hosted on and stay on the brand or influencer’s profile, but there is a dedicated landing page where shoppers can discover streams that are “live now” or were previously streamed. During live streams, streamers can chat directly with viewers and customers in real time and demonstrate the products they are recommending. Viewers are able to shop the products mentioned in the video through affiliate links underneath the video.
Why is livestream shopping so popular?
Over the past few years, consumers have become more considerate about what and how much they have been purchasing. Consumers are incredibly wary and untrusting of brand advertisements and are skilled at seeing through inauthentic influencer partnerships.
Livestreaming offers consumers transparency they are unable to receive through traditional ecommerce sites and descriptions. With livestreaming, consumers are able to see products in action alongside an endorsement and additional information from a real person. The new communication method is an effective form of word-of-mouth marketing that allows consumers to draw their own conclusions, letting them feel responsible for their purchasing decisions.
Livestreaming offers brands complete control over the messaging on their products and brand story. Providing a brand and product story engages consumers and helps them connect emotionally. Livestreaming allows consumers to ask questions and discuss products in real time and receive an instant response. This helps build confidence and trust in the brand, increasing the likelihood of a purchase.
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