3 Reasons Why Social Live-Streaming Shopping is the Future of E-commerce

The fantastic growth rate of e-commerce during 2020 is a signal that change is coming faster than expected to our beloved industries. Whether we like it or not, the retail transformation is irreversible and permanent. But while we are adapting to this new normal, what can the future of e-commerce surprise us with? In my view, the future belongs to live streaming shopping over social channels.

Exactly when the first millennials were born, at the start of the 80s decade, HSN (Home Shopping Network) started to innovate on cable TV. Founded by a former DJ who started selling can openers on live radio, HSN pioneered a televised sales pitch for consumer goods. Credit cards and QR codes payment systems sustained this bizarre industry. So much that in 2020, if you turn on your TV during day-time and check generic stations, you might be able to watch TV-shopping in its awesomeness.

HSN Live from Herkimer Diamonds on Tuesday
HSN Network

But no one talk about this in the world of marketing. In our bubble, in 2020, we speak about social commerce. Like many technologies and consumer trends, social live-streaming shopping has its origin in China, where it got democratized. I was inspired to write this article after watching the following video from Alibaba.

5 minutes into watching this, I realized I am watching the future of e-commerce. The missing link between the current primitive search/scroll/click functionality that we sometimes struggle with these days on any e-commerce platform and the VR shopping future promise that copies a live retail experience. Live streaming shopping offers the perfect mix of retail experience from the comfort of your mobile. And it’s available today, no new technology needed.

Here are the 3 elements which inspired me to see the future in this small video:

Deeply understanding your customers – the immense promise of social shopping is the perfect understanding of customers’ preferences and tastes by marrying their historical purchase data and their engagements on the platform. If in China Alibaba is uniquely positioned to challenge and win this game, in the Western world, the future is still unclear. A magic winner would sit somewhere between Facebook/Instagram and Amazon, but the choice between the two behemoths on who will win this game is challenging to decide in 2020. Amazon launched Amazon Live in 2019, with little commercial success. To me, it merely looks like HSN OTT. A year later, Instagram launches its Shop menu directly in the app, after offering post-shopping for some time now. I am not 100% convinced on who to bet.

Creating excitement and brilliantly showcasing the product – unlike retail, e-commerce, and social are great at creating excitement and teasing the right customers. Early hints, reminders to connect, teasing messages – all this is available in-app without too much fuss. When the shopping moment arrives, the value equation turns on its head. Ditching the millions of dollars spent on advertising production or retail furniture, a simple wardrobe or shoe rack can be enough to showcase the product. But a static image is not what we as consumers want; we want someone to try the shoes, hear others talk about them, discuss the size and fit, the materials, and then add in some magic dust of selling talk. Layering in AR technologies can offer a personal fitting experience on top of the showcase.

Scarcity triggers – probably the feature I admire the most in live streaming shopping is the psychological play with scarcity. We know that once something is in high demand, we want it more. The dropping culture, made famous by sneakers companies, can be extended to everything now: from designer chocolate bars to cars.

Micah Mitchell (micahmitchell) on Pinterest

My bet is that social live-streaming will further sink retail faster than e-commerce initially did. What do you think about this bold claim?

Photo by Oleksii S on Unsplash

3 Habits Every Marketer Needs to Try This Year

The fantastic book Atomic Habits” by James Clear changed my life! I vividly remember the dreamlike beach of Ko Poda in Krabi, Thailand, where I dived into it. The book’s key insight was no novelty to me, but James’s storytelling somehow convinced me to change my mindset. To build a habit, you need to do something for 30 days continously, and then it becomes a part of you. What habits can you build as a marketer to be a better version of yourself?

Here are three ideas:

  • Read a (different) opinion about your area of expertise – I know; we are all busy, we are all swamped in emails and Powerpoint decks, but those who exceed tomorrow are the ones who slowly build their insights in this knowledge economy. Read a blog, follow someone smart on Twitter (like Seth Godin), subscribe to a magazine (could be Harvard Business Review or The Economist – I know it’s not free, but nothing is), select a website (could be The Drum or Marketing Week), or even a Marketing book and read at least 10 minutes every single day. Augment your coffee break with a marketing read, and you will start making better knowledge connections.
  • Talk to a Customer or at least observe them – I know; it’s difficult to talk to consumers in a social distancing world, but when was the last time you’ve been to the store and observed consumers without being creepy. When did you search for your brand on Twitter or Reddit and learn the reactions? When did you last ask yourself a question and answered not from your vantage point but the consumer vantage point? Remember, you are not the consumer. It would be best if you “talked” to them daily.
  • Learn your Customer’s Media habits – we love our Social Media streams, our YouTube accounts, and our TV bundles. When was the last time you glanced over the usage behavior stats for your target audiences? How much time your customers spend on TikTok, and how much time they watch TV? The numbers from 2015 are different from today, so why not challenge your media agency to show you the data. “Show me the data…daily!”

I challenge you to pick up one of the three ideas or anything else you have always wanted to do and challenge yourself to do it for 30 days in a row. You will discover how the practice slowly grows on you and how it becomes you. And you develop into a better version of yourself.

Why Are Marketers so Obsessed on Millennials and What to Do about It

We love millennials! Millennials are different; they are sharp, open-minded, techy, digital, and the perfect fit for our brand, whatever brand we might own. In digital apps, books, consumer package goods, or alcoholic drinks, millennials are the magic solution to our marketing segmentation. Is this the myth of the last decade in Marketing? One that we fell so quickly into its trap. Because if you work in Marketing, there is a high chance that you are a millennial. Just remember, you are not the consumer.

The next two simple graphs should create an A-HA moment and convince you that the millennial opportunity is not that big. Two significant insights spring to mind: millennials are not the majority (duh), and second, they have the least disposable income to spend.

By targeting millennials, you are consciously deciding to ignore 80% of the population, maybe because you are a Pareto fan. Do you know accurately that 20% of your customers represent 80% of your revenue? Recheck your data. Unless you are active in the business of graduate recruitment or student debt repayment options, I would doubt it. 

Second, irrespective of the year, unemployment among millennials was higher than any other age group (that’s in the US, in Europe is even worse). Add to this the limited purchasing power of millennials, and your story starts to have legs. Don’t you think you should broaden your target?

3 simple insights to start your recovery journey:

  • Understand who buys your category – not just your brand.
  • Learn about your customers; know the revenue each age-group segment generates.
  • Study demographic trends for your market; in an aging population world, don’t be blind to your most valuable target group. 

Photo by Julián Gentilezza on Unsplash

Stop Using Marketing Research like a Drunk Uses a Lamppost

When I started working for Mars, one of my favorite onboarding reads I had to consume covered the dos and don’t of marketing research. Among excellent references to statistical significance, confidence intervals, and the role of probability, the highlight was the image shown below. It pictures a drunk man using a lamppost for support rather than its typical use: illumination. And that’s how we tend to use research with the wrong purpose in mind.

We often ask consumers what we want to hear and are overly enthusiastic when their answers match our needs. A concept validation is mistakenly seen as a sign of research success. We should be disappointed when the research outcome is clean; we should ask for new insights, not a confirmation. Research should be about learning something new. Let’s not forget: we are not the consumer. And if we think we could know in advance what they precisely want from our vantage point, we are maybe wrong.

So let’s start asking more from consumer research; let’s go beyond validation and into illumination. The role of a lamppost is to illuminate the way, even if you are drunk and can’t seem to find yours.

Photo by Sylvain Pitet on Unsplash