In this fifth installment of a series drawn from the Art of the Drop report, we break down the second stage of a successful drop — the execution process

Product drops can be one of the most effective ways for brands to create hype and solidify customer loyalty, but behind each seemingly random “drop” lies meticulous planning, supply chain optimization, and tonnes of customer data and market research.

PSFK's recent report called The Art of the Drop, developed in partnership with PCH, breaks down the product drop into three key components: planning, execution, and leveraging the drop for maximum impact. In the last article, we discussed the steps needed to plan a drop. This time, we unpack how to successfully execute a drop — from determining the mechanism and channels for distribution to creating meaningful consumer-facing transactional moments.

Below, five key trends are laid out that help to illustrate the ways in which brands can successfully carry out their launch.

Shoppable Shows

The proliferation of live streaming has had major implications for how we shop—in fact, a 2019 survey found that 44% of Gen Z are more likely to spend money on an experience because of something they saw on social, versus 34% of all consumers. Using live-streamed programs that allow audiences to collectively view content in real-time, brands can now give customers direct access to exclusive products, blending shopping and entertainment into a streamlined experience. NTWRK, for example, is a mobile experience that combines a schedule of compelling programming with live shopping, where viewers tune into live episodes showcasing pop culture icons, and are able to shop the exclusive featured products in-app.

Gamified Engagements

Most of us grew up with video games, and so it's only natural that brands would tap into that competitive spirit by integrating elements of play and gaming into the retail experience. According to studies, roughly half of consumers frequented one or more ‘retailtainment’ experience in the past year,  and that figure jumps to 66% for Millennials. Athletic apparel brand Fred Perry promoted its collection in partnership with designer Raf Simons using a Google street view-like gamified experience. By exploring a virtual map of a seaside suburban town, customers can spot and click people wearing the collection of apparel to access the purchase link—as well as stumble upon secret surprises.

Ongoing Drops

Among the biggest changes in fashion over the past decade was the concept of ongoing drops, harnessing the power of online retail to release new merchandise at regular intervals instead of seasonal collections. Offering shoppers an incentive to return frequently to discover what’s new creates prolonged engagement, while providing brands with the opportunity to quickly test and learn. DTC luxury shoe brand M. Gemi creates continual newness with its ‘Monday Drop,’ launching new styles and exclusive collaborations weekly over Instagram Live. The live drops include behind-the-scenes content showcasing designers, as well as crowdsourced styling advice.

Conversational Commerce

Today's leading brands and retailers are increasingly meeting consumers where they are, engaging them on the often mobile platforms where they now work, socialize, and shop. Sneaker company Cariuma is doing so by offering an opt-in text messaging capability to alert brand fans to new releases, or let them know when a sold-out item is back in stock. Among customers who join the texting offer, Cariuma also marshals the ability to reduce its shopping cart abandonment rates, working to retain and remind shoppers who may have dropped off the path to purchase.

Local Exclusives

Even as brands strive to scale globally to reach a wider audience, they still find value in cultivating relationships with customers on a local level. Within the context of drops, this means releasing special-edition products that are only available to communities in a defined geographic zone, sometimes as small as a neighborhood. Primarily an e-commerce brand, women’s shoemaker Rothy’s offers exclusive styles to shoppers who visit its San Francisco store. Every few weeks, Rothy’s drops styles that are unique to the location, promoting to SF customers and on the premises. Since the DTC brand owns its own production workshop, it is able to produce limited runs of product and drive visits to its physical store by offering shoppers styles that they can’t find online.

This article is part of a series based on PCH and PSFK's Art of the Drop report—download the full report free here