Social Commerce, the latest pandemic baby?

Published on 20/07/2021

Seen a few funny-looking selfies of people in red face masks filling your social media feed lately? Skincare brand The Ordinary has been taking social media by storm!

The brand has recently gone viral on TikTok and dramatically increased their Instagram sales through creative content promoting their red peeling mask. According to a brand representative, one influencer video (which now boasts an impressive 583,000 likes), spurred the sale of over 52,000 units of the serum in just two weeks and resulted in The Ordinary becoming the most googled skincare company worldwide! So how did they do it? Through clever Direct to Consumer Marketing.

Creating impactful Direct to Consumer (D2C) strategies allows brands to have an unmediated relationship with their customers, empowering them to regain control over their image, data, consumer insights and sales. Overall, it guarantees immediacy and convenience for both brands and consumers and enables the entire shopping experience — from product discovery to check out — to take place directly on social media platforms. Like other brands adopting this strategy, The Ordinary understood that success lies in creating the right balance between content creation, social selling stunts and mechanisms. Today, brands have access to the right tools to establish consumer mental availability and spontaneous purchasing directly on social, underpinned by content, data, and consumer insights – everything needed to generate product sales.

But why is it popular now?

Unsurprisingly, the Covid crisis was a major trigger. Due to the lack of physical availability and increased time online, ad spending shifted online to social media, the Direct to Consumer marketing solution underwent an accelerated global launch and widespread adoption. During the pandemic, the UK experienced the fastest growth of sales on social media: +553% on TikTok, +356% on Pinterest, +189% on Instagram and finally +160% on Facebook (according to a Bazaarvoice Influenster study). It has become so popular in the past year, social commerce sales in the US are even said to reach $36 billion in 2021 (from $27 billion in 2020).

Many brands have taken the social commerce leap, including brick & mortar giants such as Walmart, who in December, partnered with TikTok on the first pilot test of a new livestreamed shopping experience. Such test & learn approaches are paying off well: we noticed Walmart’s livestream attracted at least 20K viewers in the first 15 minutes. Also, agility in production and decision making during Covid has rewarded brands willing to take the risk of testing social selling during its rise. For example, the Heinz to Home UK campaign was launched very early in the pandemic (April 2020), resulting in a 200% increase in sales inQ1 of 2020.

Subsequently, creative content has become the key asset to elaborate an attractive and authentic relationship with audiences and build a trusting bond between all three parties. As it is now widely known that consumers have a particular proclivity for detecting any pushy and fabricated authenticity, content strategies and stakeholders are key to building a seamless social commerce experience. Indeed, content creator collaborations (apparently no one calls them “influencers” anymore), combined with the right amount of consumer Call To Action and User Generated Content can fuel a rich and successful social commerce campaign. However, finding the right recipe for content both creative and commerce driven is quite the balancing act. At JIN, we actually believe it’s all about finding the right insights to pinpoint the right moment of mental availability.

Finally, we are accelerating further towards a borderless shopping experience, where customers expect brands to cover digital & physical, markets, channels and media in one adaptable experience. The rapid evolution of social commerce over the past 18 months has once more proven the varying nature of today’s omni-channel commerce. Therefore the brands that are open and quick to adapt reap its benefits even though the tools and information are out there for everyone to test and learn the strategy that suits them best.

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