During the pandemic outbreak we saw a significant shift in consumer behaviors, from panic buying essential grocery supplies to the rise of videoconferencing. While many of these behaviors will revert to pre-pandemic levels as lockdown restrictions ease and populations relax back into life as normal, there will be some changes that will permanently affect the way we live, work and shop.
Nalla Chan, Regional Executive Director, APAC at Tag acknowledges this change, commenting “The pandemic has accelerated dynamic shifts in consumer buying behavior. It is a wake-up call for marketers to ensure they have the agility and capability to be relevant to consumers and customers. Ecommerce is no longer a secondary driver, but a core driver of business”. In this article, we outline three of these changed behaviors and what this will mean for brands.
With most sporting events postponed, sports fans across the globe were able to turn to one virtual stand-in: videogames. The New York Times reported that average daily traffic on sporting hub ESPN.com fell -40% between January to March, while streaming site Twitch.tv, largely used for livestreaming video games, grew +20% within the same time-period. Even top athletes got in on the trend – Formula 1 drivers with free time on their hands due to the postponement of their racing season instead held a series of races on the Formula 1 videogame, livestreaming the events to hundreds of thousands of fans across the globe.
The gaming and e-sports trend has continued to gain popularity amongst both consumers and advertisers in recent years, with its highly devoted fanbase (comprised primarily of the hard-to-reach Gen Z audience) catching the interest of advertisers. We expect to see a brief dip in audiences as lockdown restrictions are lifted, yet with many consumers having turned to gaming and e-sports as an entertainment channel for the first-time during lockdown, it’s likely that its already strong growth trajectory will continue to rise in years to come. Businesses should consider whether their consumer segments overlap with the niche audience groups that e-sports can reach, with the medium providing an alternative and engaging way for brands to reach their consumers.
As retailers were forced to shutter their doors, brands quickly had to find new ways to foster personal connections that could replace that in-store customer experience. Livestreamed commerce emerged to build excitement around new product releases, turning shopping into an event-based experience rather than a needs-based experience. China remains at the front of the pack when it comes to livestreamed shopping events, with sales from livestreamed commerce expected to double from 2019 to 2020. Alibaba’s Taobao Live leads the market, with the platform reporting that the number of merchants on the app increased 719% in February at the height of the lockdown. Throughout the pandemic we have seen South East Asia quickly following in China’s footsteps, with Singapore-based online retailer Lazada (also owned by Alibaba Group) coining the term ‘Shoppertainment’ for its app-integrated innovations that include live-stream shopping and gamification facilitated by their ‘see now buy now’ technology.
Many retailers turned to livestream commerce for the first-time during lockdown, with Louis Vuitton becoming the first luxury brand to host a livestream on Chinese social shopping app Xiaohongshu (‘Red’), showcasing their latest collection in an exclusive one-hour event in March. L’Oreal followed suit, promoting giveaways and exclusive offers that could be used within the app to boost viewership and sales. It’s likely that the benefits afforded by livestreamed shopping, such as the ability to form a deeper connection with virtual audiences and create urgency around shopping events, will incentivize retailers to continue to integrate livestream commerce into their marketing plans. With mobile adoption high throughout Asia-Pacific, retailers should test their livestream commerce offering within the region, considering what shopping events they can facilitate to build excitement and affinity amongst customers.
With consumers having more free time on their hands because of lockdown measures, time spent on social media has skyrocketed. As a result, we also saw the boom of social commerce, driven by a trifecta of factors: social platforms wanted to keep users within their apps, consumers needed new ways to satisfy their shopping needs and brands wanted to forge personal digital connections with their customers. Social media companies are doubling down on their social commerce efforts – Facebook announced the launch of Facebook Shop, rolling out the platform across both Facebook and Instagram. The technology enables users to shop from a variety of businesses without having to leave the app. Facebook is seeking to further strengthen their social commerce efforts by partnering with ecommerce providers such as Shopify and BigCommerce, allowing businesses to seamlessly integrate their existing ecommerce platforms into their Facebook Shops.
Social commerce seems to be the natural progression of the way today’s audiences are using social media, with Instagram reporting that 60% of their users will turn to the app to discover new products. Social commerce bridges the gap between physical retail and e-commerce, allowing brands to truly integrate themselves into consumers’ everyday lives and habits. As lockdown ends and physical shopping resumes, social commerce will continue to provide a way for brands to reach their consumers, fostering both awareness amongst new customers and loyalty amongst existing ones. With the recent developments from Facebook, retailers with mature digital and ecommerce offerings should look to extend this into social commerce, while retailers who have previously focused on physical retail should consider social commerce as a first foray into the digital marketplace.
At Tag we create faster, simpler, cost-effective and consumer-centric marketing campaigns. With our team of digital and physical retail experts, we provide end-to-end marketing solutions enabling brands to ensure they are well-positioned during times of change and uncertainty in the market.
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