With 250+ speakers, 600+ sponsors, and unlimited networking opportunities, Shoptalk 2022 reinvigorated in-person events, creating a space for the retail community to talk technology, trends, and consumer behavior in today’s increasingly digital world. Covering a variety of retail-related topics, the conference often came back to three key trends — let’s walk through them.
Trend #1: Social Media & Ecommerce Channels as a Power Couple
Today’s consumers, especially Gen Z, expect a convenient shopping experience catered to their digital lifestyle. Social media is the number one source of brand discovery for 52% of this age group. Thought leaders in marketing and retail took on this topic at Shoptalk, focusing on understanding consumers’ preferences and behaviors, and how they shape product and marketing decisions.
— Katie Thomas (@katiethomaskci) March 29, 2022
Tweet by Katie Thomas, Head of the Consumer Institute at Kearney
Executives from Pinterest, e.l.f. Beauty, and FabFitFun came together to discuss the growth of social commerce, asserting that platform innovations enable ecommerce to be a shared, social experience. This is true — hottest social media platforms have evolved to support the ecommerce needs of its users, from Instagram’s Checkout Feature to shoppable TikTok ad campaigns.
As a retailer, how do you stand out from the crowd, while improving ROI, in a saturated social media landscape? The answer may not be on these apps alone. Creating a two-way street between your brand’s social profiles and ecommerce website optimizes both channels for success; 70% of shopping enthusiasts look to Instagram to discover new products.
Brands like Alo Yoga, Puma, and DMC are bringing social selling to their ecommerce websites through shoppable galleries of Instagram and TikTok posts, both sourced from community members and influencers as well as created by the brand itself. Radio Flyer saw a 7x increase in conversion upon seeding social content from the brand’s community across 117 on-site galleries.
“We were able to work with Pixlee TurnTo to set up different galleries and albums to match custom experiences. And now we’re able to have user-generated content throughout the entire purchase experience for the consumer.” — Mindy Schanzle, Marketing Communications Lead at Radio Flyer
Trend #2: The Best Social Videos Are Diverse and Authentic
Retailers are looking to incorporate even more video content into their marketing and advertising strategies in 2022. At Shoptalk, Andreessen Horowitz General Partner Connie Chan referred to this phenomenon as “Shoptainment,” the overlap of videos on social media made to entertain and an opportunity to make a purchase.
The key questions Shoptalk retailers asked revolved around the content and distribution of these videos; who should be recording them? What’s the optimal length for a social media video? On what channels will they have the most impact?
While the answers to these questions vary depending on industry and audience, one element remains constant; videos with an authentic, user-generated content (UGC) feel tend to resonate best with audiences and instill the most purchasing confidence in consumers. Successful brands using video like Delta Airlines on TikTok make the most out of a video-centric marketing strategy by diversifying the types of videos shared by the brand and the avenues they’re shared on.
Embracing brand-produced video content alongside influencer, customer, and employee-generated content sets modern brands up for similar success as well as a coveted high volume of video content.
Trend #3: The Relatable Micro-Influencer Beats Out Celebs
Wednesday’s deep dive with Elysa Walk, Chief Business Officer of Burton Snowboards, Lisa Lesman, VP Global Marketing of Coach, and Rich Fulop, Founder & CEO of Brooklinen was titled “Using Influencers Effectively.” This panel discussed the shift to embrace smaller-scale creators like nano influencers and brand ambassadors that typically provide engaged niche communities and authentic content compared to high-profile influencers.
Gen Z expects transparency, empathy, and diversity from brands; brands should represent the broad spectrum of individuals that exist in the real world through their marketing, while proudly reflecting brand values and humanizing their online presences. 82% of Gen Z’ers say they trust a company more if it uses images of real customers in its advertising
Creators with narrower focuses and smaller, more engaged audiences are one way to approach this expectation. They’re skilled at creating content that resonates authentically with their specific audiences. UGC is another method; sourcing and sharing media from your existing customer base shows brand affinity while contextualizing your product in the lives of real people.
Lots of talk from brands about user-generated content, which I’m happy to hear. That term got dropped for a while, but it’s such an important loyalty and market research tool #shoptalk2022
— Melissa Minkow (@Melissa_Minkow) March 29, 2022
While retailers should continue to drive engagement and community on social media, these takeaways from Shoptalk show that a step beyond traditional retail marketing strategies may differentiate your brand from the competition. One thing is clear – retailers seeking out ways to scalably innovate with community-driven commerce will emerge prominent in the hearts and minds of consumers for years to come.