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Watch, Click, Shop, Repeat: Shoppable Videos Supercharge D2C Brand Marketing

Direct-to-consumer brands are banking on short videos to engage and retain consumers in the fickle world of online shopping

Watch, Click, Shop, Repeat: Shoppable Videos Supercharge D2C Brand Marketing
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POSTED ON September 08, 2022 11:16 AM

If a picture speaks a thousand words, a video is definitely worth a million pictures. This is especially true for brands when it comes to engaging and retaining the Gen-Z and millennial customers who prefer short-form mobile-optimised video content over textual marketing collateral any time of the day.

Against the backdrop of ever-changing buyer preferences and buying patterns, engaging young customers is an arduous task for direct-to-consumer (D2C) brands. The fickle online stratosphere, growing competition and constant technological advancements further add to the complexity these companies have to contend with.

To deal with these issues, the concept of shoppable videos—marketing videos that display the brands’ products—has emerged as the latest tool. The interesting thing about this innovative method is that in addition to providing a visual, moving catalogue, these interactive videos also let consumers click on embedded links within the video to purchase the products without leaving the brand site.

According to Salesforce’s latest State of Marketing report, the most valuable digital channel of 2021 was video, with 90 per cent of marketers employing it in their engagement strategy.  While videos on TikTok and Instagram reels might go viral, they might not lead to conversion. In the ecommerce sector, social commerce only powers 4 per cent of online retail sales. A vast majority of the consumer conversions still happen on the website.

“Hence it is ideal for brands to consider making their website more user friendly, rather than simply building content for social media. The rise of Web 3.0 and the gradual but certain departure from social media commerce can prepare brands to embrace the future of ecommerce,” Jeff Lucas, chief revenue officer, Firework, reiterates, highlighting the work that brands need to put into their website.

Shankar Prasad, founder and CEO, Plum
While accelerated success is an advantage of the D2C space, Shankar Prasad, founder and CEO of Plum feels the associated con with this rate of acceleration is the challenge of ensuring repeat purchase

Speaking The Customer’s Mind

In a scenario where access to capital is a growing issue along with the need to optimise marketing spend, achieving success is already a challenge. This gets even more complex when one throws unexpected curveballs, like the pandemic, into the mix. 

Interestingly, Unny Radhakrishnan, CEO of Digitas, a global marketing communications and technology services company, feels there was a huge uptake of D2C brands during the pandemic. This was largely driven by the growing consumption of snackable video content, which helped in product discovery. Companies, too, went into an overdrive to offer personalisation, informative content and interactive avenues such as live shopping and live sessions to enhance a customer’s digital experience.

Radhakrishnan’s view is borne out by a report by management consulting firm Bain & Company, which found that more than 200 million Indians watched short-form videos at least once in 2020 with daily active users spending up to 45 minutes a day watching Instagram Reels, Facebook Reels and YouTube Shorts.

"Brands are increasingly using short video platforms to reach their target customers. New monetisation models, such as video commerce, live streaming and in-app purchases, will become increasingly commonplace in the coming years," Shyam Unnikrishnan partner and consumer products, retail, strategy and digital practices in India, Bain & Company said in a company statement.

According to Salesforce’s latest State of Marketing report, the most valuable digital channel of 2021 was video, with 90 per cent of marketers employing it in their engagement strategy

In the D2C landscape, users want to form a human connection with brands on their sites. Shoppable videos offer companies increased control over brand messaging while providing customers an opportunity to understand the brand’s ethos. 

Beauty and personal care D2C company Plum was amongst the early adopters of this trend. The brand also sought to add a personal touch to each creative. From insisting buyers to check the ingredient list on every product’s pack to getting actress Rashmika Mandanna to show how to clean the face correctly, its shoppable videos attempt to build a personal connection with its target audience.

Earlier this year, it launched the ‘PlumSquad’, a pan-India hunt for content creators who could showcase their beauty content via YouTube videos or Instagram reels. The five shortlisted names later joined the company’s marketing team and post videos showing hacks and tutorials using Plum products today.

The company spends close to 40 per cent of its overall sales budget on marketing activities. Of these, around 75 per cent is focused on building its digital reach channels, which are replete with content creators sharing their real-life experience with Plum products.

Shankar Prasad, founder and CEO, Plum, believes that it is necessary for brands to think out of the box to gain user attention and convert this into actual business. According to him, while accelerated success is one of the pros of the D2C space, the associated con with this rate of acceleration is the challenge of ensuring repeat purchase.

“This is where engaging marketing efforts, coupled with consistency and personalisation of product delivery, comes into play. While we do enjoy a healthy 35 per cent to 40 per cent retention ratio, we constantly ensure dedicated focus in engaging our existing community to retain and grow this number even further,” he adds.

Kama Ayurveda
Kama Ayurveda's shoppable videos with actress Shibani Dandekar-Akhtar allow viewers to click and buy the showcased products while watching the content.

Beyond Social Media 

Social media is aimed at increasing one’s knowledge of a product, at best, says Lucas, adding that while social media is certainly a hygiene today, it cannot be the only initiative in a company’s digital strategy.

“Short vertical video and interactive livestream represents the language of millennials and Gen Z. D2C operators today aspire to independently drive their own brand through video rather than hand them over to a social aggregator. However, with that aspiration comes the inherent need to understand consumer behavior and stay ahead of the curve. This helps drive meaningful engagement with customers,” Lucas stated.

When beauty D2C brand SUGAR Cosmetics wanted to change how consumers interact on its website, it decided to deploy short videos that showcased live demonstrations of its key products to drive conversions. After integrating Firework’s solution, it registered 1,53,781 average monthly video views. What is noteworthy is that its feed impression rate, which shows how often the content is shown to users on the platform, rose by 48.7 per cent. Moreover, its call-to-action rate, to prompt an immediate response from users and hopefully encourage or encourage a sale, rose by 18.97 per cent.  

In the case of Plum, Prasad says that the use of advanced tools such as skin analysis, tools that match shade requirements for makeup and simple how-to-use videos at the point of purchase ensured a personalised approach. “It also makes the purchase journey easier for today’s customer who likes to be well informed prior to making a purchase,” he adds.

The Man Company rode the transformation wave of digital customer engagement by being an early adopter in the D2C space to integrate shoppable videos on its digital storefront.

To keep pace with changing trends, it decided to bring TikTok-style video capability to the digital storefront to encourage customers to browse and discover the product range through short video carousels. It also integrated sophisticated shoppable video technology with short videos, allowing customers to get in-depth product details and transact live while viewing the videos.

This pivot in its marketing strategy soon yielded results. As per Google Analytics and Contentsquare 2022 Digital Experience Benchmarks, the personal care brand witnessed 2.7X higher conversion rate, with 2.4x increase in pages visited and 4x higher time spent on the website per session since it started this exercise.

Management consulting firm Bain & Company found that over 200 million Indians watched short-form videos at least once in 2020 with daily active users spending up to 45 minutes a day watching Instagram Reels, Facebook Reels and YouTube Shorts.

To make things more interesting and interactive, luxury brand Davidoff India held an online masterclass last November when it wanted to introduce cigars enthusiasts to its offerings. The livestream gave a peek into the cigar making process, the right ways to cut and coast it and also featured a chef and sommelier who shared their insight into the right food and beverages pairing with cigars. The virtual session witnessed 5.3K unique views with 37 per cent engagement rate with a total 13,400 minutes of watch time.

This proves that by anchoring short form video and live shopping experiences on its own platforms, brands can power conversions and take back control of their own customer journeys.

Meanwhile, Swapnil Sinha, head of ecommerce at Kama Ayurveda, notes that brands should equally focus on pre- and post-purchase experience. “While the user is on the brand platform, companies should educate them with rich brand and product content. Post-purchase follow-up with a personalised text, e-mail or call to gather feedback on shopping experience and product quality goes a long way in building trust,” he says. 

Like Lucas points out, D2C players today aspire to independently drive their own brand through video rather than hand them over to a social aggregator. However, with that aspiration comes the inherent need to understand consumer behavior and stay ahead of the curve that will help them drive meaningful engagement with customers.

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