Thanks to advances in e-commerce and digital marketing, not only is online shopping no longer a hassle for many consumers, it is also a means of entertainment. Online shopping is not limited to familiar, mainstream major channels or platforms, where consumers may go for great deals and fast product discovery. Rather, much of online shopping is playing out on Instagram and TikTok, where entertaining posts and engrossing live streams double as product hawking platforms.
APAC is leading the charge on this blend of e-commerce and entertainment, which Alibaba-owned Lazada has dubbed “shoppertainment.” For online sellers, shoppertainment is a dream: not just enticing consumers to buy quickly but getting them to dwell on online properties, where they can stay longer, become brand loyalists, and buy more.
Here’s how shoppertainment is taking shape and how retailers and brands can capitalize on the trend to expand their customer base and drive sales.
No practice makes APAC’s lead in shoppertainment more apparent than live selling, the use of live streams to market and sell products. Alibaba launched Taobao Live, the e-commerce giant’s live selling platform, in 2016 to great success. By 2020, Alibaba’s Singles Day presale campaign on Taobao Live was able to generate $7.5 billion in transaction volume — in the first 30 minutes.
Live selling has been slower to take off in the US, Europe, and other regions, but Western brands are taking notice. The format turbocharges the best of social commerce, combining frictionless selling — the shopper sees the product and can immediately convert — with a delightful and social experience that keeps shoppers coming back. Expect Western brands to dive further into live selling in 2022 and audiences to become more accustomed to the format.
Like live selling, gamification’s chief benefit is engagement, which fosters both sales and retention. If marketers can make consumers feel like interacting with a campaign or a brand is more experiential than transactional, they can make their interactions with customers more shareable and repeatable or, as some have put it, “sticky.”
Consider the case of Indian finance brand Bajaj Finserv, which launched what became a viral gamified campaign to increase interest in its travel loans. Bajaj Finserv’s campaign prompted consumers to answer questions about their favorite destinations and see if they could identify the skylines of those places, among other tasks. Consumers got into the game, and the campaign ended up trending on Twitter and generated nearly 75 million impressions.
Retailers and brands are capitalizing on increased internet access and social media usage in the region to entrench shopping habits with badges, tiers, and other gimmicks that make shoppers feel like they’re special to a brand.
The lesson here is that Bajaj Finserv did not satisfy itself with the idea that its products provide value to consumers; it sought to provide value to them in the marketing campaign itself (entertainment, or shoppertainment). Outstanding engagement — and, one can imagine, increased conversions — followed.
The APAC loyalty management market is projected to grow from about $945 million in 2020 to $3.6 billion in 2026. A major driver of this increased spending on loyalty marketing is the drive to engage shoppers via shoppertainment.
Retailers and brands are capitalizing on increased internet access and social media usage in the region to entrench shopping habits with badges, tiers, and other gimmicks that make shoppers feel like they’re special to a brand and are on a lifelong customer journey. As in the case of gamification, badges and tiers extend the brand-customer interaction beyond a single transaction, turning the customer relationship into one that is both commercially and emotionally rewarding.
A prime example of loyalty-as-shoppertainment comes from the Singapore fashion company Love, Bonito. The brand provides long-term members personalized birthday surprises, and it splits customers into tiers, giving those in higher tiers early access to products. The brand’s loyalty program also comes with in-store benefits; members can swipe a digital card to identify themselves and earn perks. All these benefits make shopping fun and exciting, not another chore to cross off a checklist.
Crucially for today’s digital marketing landscape, what all the above forms of shoppertainment have in common is that they do not necessarily require allocating advertising dollars to the giants of Google, Amazon, and Facebook. Rather, to take advantage of all the above trends, retailers and brands can turn to an array of partners, who can help them reach diverse audiences in cost-effective ways, precisely as advertising on search and social becomes more expensive.
Brands looking to benefit from live selling can partner directly with influencers, while those interested in gamification and rewards can seek out retail partners, mobile apps, publishers, and firms that specialize in coupons and loyalty experiences.
Regardless of the precise format they choose to pursue, marketers and online sellers engaging in shoppertainment will benefit from a diverse set of partners — and that’s increasingly valuable in a marketplace where the go-to options provide scant opportunity for creativity and differentiation.
Featured image by Raychan.
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