As social media takes a more central role in people’s lives as a way to connect and share, it has become arguably the most important channel for retailers and brands to raise awareness and drive action. As these tight knit communities grow in both influence and size, their evolution has seen them go from places to participate in conversations and build a following into marketing channels and de facto front doors to the wider online experience. More recently, however, the addition of new commerce tools and capabilities has transformed them into valuable storefronts to facilitate sales, meaning that users on popular platforms like Instagram and Pinterest can now discover a product and purchase directly within their feeds.
Platforms eager to monetize their users and create opportunities for brands to engage their target audience are rolling out a host of new features from shoppable content to live streamed events that combine education and social interaction with native shopping carts and checkout. This same functionality is enabling influencers of any scale to generate incremental income through affiliate links, transforming any casual fan or brand ambassador into a valuable sales channel. For their part, brands and retailers are also testing out ways to bring the social aspect of in-person shopping onto their own digital platforms with tools that allow groups of friends to shop together from anywhere.
And while not traditionally thought of as social networks, the mainstreaming of massively multiplayer games like Fortnite and Roblox has generated excitement from the industry around the potential of the metaverse to usher in a new paradigm for the internet. Within the retail sphere, this opens the door to an expanded marketplace for digital goods and the creation of immersive, virtual environments for shopping online.
It’s an exciting time for retailers and brands to explore the expansive social landscape and begin experimenting with the various buying and selling formats. For the moment at least, this is where a growing majority of consumers, particularly those in the younger demographic, are spending their time and attention and increasingly their dollars.
As content dominates the online sphere, brands and platforms are taking notice, turning simple discovery occasions into shoppable ones. Brands and retailers can leverage established and burgeoning platforms alike to facilitate casual interactions with their content as well as streamline consumers’ path from inspiration to purchase.Digital Identities
Coupled with the upsurge of virtual experiences as consumers’ lives transition into the digital realm, and the advances made in gaming and social technologies, brands and retailers are designing experiences and products to service consumers in their digital lifestyles. Customization, support of evolving styles, and outfit and appearance options that can be changed based on new interests or preferences, have become the key attributes consumers look for in creating avatars and online personas. Digital identities represent a new marketing channel for brands and retailers, as direct-to-avatar selling becomes the virtual direct-to-consumer model.Immersive Browsing
In an effort to recreate that experience of discovery within a physical store, retailers and brands will develop immersive, interactive, 3D platforms that allow remote shoppers to discover and learn about a brand and its products in highly-engaging ways.Influencer Affiliates
As more consumers turn to social media to discover new products, the people they follow from friends to influencers are an increasingly important source for trusted recommendations. The addition of new commerce tools has transformed marketing occasions and moments of inspiration into seamless purchase experiences, allowing creators of any level to begin earning commissions for the brands and products they support and shoppers to buy with one-click.Social Shopping
Amid extended shutdowns and a changing store environment, consumers looking to replicate the social aspect of shopping are seeking out private group forums and virtual co-shopping platforms as a means to connect. To provide customers with a virtual peer-to-peer experience, brands and retailers are leveraging social media platforms and tech solutions to create virtual micro communities where fans can interact safely, and in real-time.
Food and beverage company Kraft Heinz, multinational retail chain Walmart, and interactive storytelling platform Eko have partnered to create 11 real-time shoppable episodes for a new recipe-driven series hosted on Walmart’s Cookshop. The shoppable online videos provide the brand’s viewers with a technology-forward solution for healthy and convenient eating.Dapper Labs & Genies Launching Digital Avatar Commerce Platform
Dapper Labs, the Vancouver-based digital collectible and blockchain experience company behind the incredibly popular NBA Top Shot and CryptoKitties NFTs, is partnering with celebrity-favored 3D avatar platform Genies to create a new marketplace for virtual goods, supported by Dapper Labs’ Flow blockchain.American Eagle Goes Back to School With Snapchat In Augmented Reality Campaign
Retailer American Eagle is debuting its new fall ‘21 back-to-school campaign, “Future Together, Jeans Forever,” by deploying an innovative virtual shopping experience powered by Snapchat’s “Dress Yourself” tool, and in partnership with cartoon avatar creator Bitmoji. The campaign, which highlights a variety of new denim offerings to further the brands momentum as a leader in jeans, is aimed at getting young people excited about showing off new styles as they head back into the world together for a new school year. The campaign features current American Eagle headliners, influencer Addison Rae and actors Chase Stokes and Madison Bailey, as well as showcases the brand’s newest pair of ambassadors, Netflix stars Caleb McLaughlin and Jenna Ortega.Pinterest Positions New Idea Pins To Drive Sales For Creators
Popular social media platform Pinterest is building a new eCommerce space, Pinterest Idea Pins, for its affiliate content creators. Idea Pins are multi-page, instantly-shoppable, story-like videos that are supported by affiliate links and product tagging, empowering any user with a business account to create saleable, inspiring content and better interact with their respective audiences through seamless purchasing experiences in real-time.