Tourism, Media, Telecomm: Why Non-Retail Brands Are Leveraging Live Shopping

8min read -

Live shopping is gaining traction and growing in popularity. In fact, revenue for live shopping across the globe has steadily increased year over year since 2019. According to Retail Touchpoints, it’s expected to exceed $35 billion in the U.S. and will account for 3.3% of all e-commerce sales in 2024.  

While retailers have been leading the charge in embracing live shopping, the potential of this unique form of digital commerce isn’t lost on other industries. Many organizations are adding live shopping to their marketing mix—and it’s paying off.

Non-Retail Players Are Making Waves in Live Shopping

Consumer research found that 78% of brands say that the opportunity to interact directly with audiences is the chief reason for investing in live commerce. 

As live shopping is gaining momentum, its reach is expanding beyond its retail roots. Organizations across many industries have realized that delivering better experiences and building more personal connections with their audience is essential. And that's exactly what they can achieve with live shopping.

Travel & Tourism

The immersive nature of live shopping is an attractive option for travel brands looking to deliver engaging experiences to potential customers. As the Hotel Management Network reports, live shopping is an ideal tactic to capture the interest of younger Gen Z and Millennial travelers who desire greater connection in customer service from brands. 

Hotel Management Network notes that it can take time for travel companies to start seeing returns from live shopping. The reason? Vacation packages tend to be a more expensive purchase, so impulse buys are less likely. A strategy that focuses on delivering memorable events, highlighting great destinations, and answering the audience's unique questions, can help build rapport and lead to gains over time. 

Ultimately, consistency yields significant results. In China, where live shopping is well established, travel brand Trip.com sold nearly $300 million in room reservations and travel packages through 25 weekly webcasts. 

Attraction operators and tour guides have also used livestreams to connect with audiences in novel ways. For example, booking service, WithLocals, offered online pasta-making classes with a tour guide in Rome. These free, live events are often a springboard for people to book virtual one-on-one sessions with guides or schedule experiential tours worldwide.

Travel brands have also seen success leaning into the boundless nature of e-commerce and live shopping. Intrepid Travel, a leader in responsible travel, hosted live shopping events with merchants and artisans in Morocco. Viewers could enjoy tours of historical sites and shopping destinations while having the opportunity to purchase products like handcrafted rugs and skincare items right on the livestream. This level of immersion is the type of enhanced shopping experience consumers want from travel brands.

Automotive

For most people, buying a new or used vehicle is a research-intensive, high-touch process. That said, many people don't want to spend hours driving around to car lots and haggling with notoriously pushy auto sales professionals. 

Live commerce gives car buyers the chance to get close-up views of vehicles and have their questions answered from the comfort of their own homes. Although automobile brands can't assume people will buy during a live shopping event, the immersive experience and personalized attention customers receive can help drive sales.

Several forward-thinking automakers are tapping into the power of live shopping. For example, Renault Group used live-streaming to launch two new car models in late 2020. During the live, multi-day event, customers could submit comments and questions and receive real-time responses from moderators. This livestream launch built on the company's Virtual Showroom content, which allowed car buyers to view various models, engage with sales professionals, and purchase vehicles from wherever they happened to be. 

Luxury car brand, BMW, has also experimented with live shopping. Instead of focusing on direct sales, BMW used these events to pursue one of the company's long-term objectives of establishing rapport and trust with its audience. The company's approach involved a series of short live events showcasing vehicles and generating consumer interest in its high-end vehicles.

Nonprofits

Some nonprofits have put the community-building power of live commerce to work in fundraising. Much like the telethons of old, livestream fundraisers allow people to tune in to an entertaining event and raise money for a good cause.

While nonprofits sometimes use in-house personnel to host live streams, partnering with popular influencers has also proven to be a winning strategy. In some cases, influencers have spearheaded the fundraising themselves. 

An example: Twitch streamer DrLupo hosted a 24-hour livestream fundraiser for St. Jude's Research Hospital that earned more than $2.3 million. A subsequent four-hour stream yielded $920,000 more for St. Jude's. 

Charities that seek out influencer partners who embody their message and purpose have the chance to reach new audiences. As the Washington Post reports, giving to worthy causes is especially appealing to younger generations:

We’re talking about a generation of people that are incredibly socially conscious, probably more socially conscious than any other generation we’ve seen. These [streamers] have massive reaches across their social platforms that they use to promote whatever initiative they want to support. And the fans show up over and over and over again.

Telecommunications Companies

Communications companies earn revenue through monthly service plans and device sales, both of which can be promoted through live shopping. Take the example of European telecommunications provider Orange, a brand that's held successful live shopping events in France and Spain.

On its website, Orange bills live shopping as a chance to unveil new products and promotions. High-tech connected devices and new smartphones are the top featured products, although the company highlights its subscription plans as well.

Before events, people can register and opt in for text message reminders. During the live session, Orange makes it easy for viewers to participate in interactive chats with other audience members and the hosts. At any time, viewers can click on product pages to learn more about offerings or add to cart and move to purchase during the live event. To capture more interest and generate more sales, Orange shares replays of the event and keeps time-limited live shopping promotions active for a few days post-show. 

Orange has used live shopping events to highlight the latest model smartphones and refurbished devices—but the value of live shopping goes beyond product sales. According to Orange, the goal of its live shopping initiative is to "create a close relationship and a bond of trust" with audiences and "most of all, have fun together!" 

Media Companies

The Canal+ Group is a leading film and media production company and distributor owned by Vivendi. The company has held stature as the biggest backer of movies in France for more than three decades and announced an investment of $680 million in French and European films in 2021. In addition, the company owns the Canal+ premium TV channel, which primarily broadcasts encrypted content accessible only via subscription during the day.

Canal+ uses live shopping to attract new subscribers. In a recent live event, the company highlighted the availability of new film releases, classic movies, original series, documentaries, youth content, international shows, and major sporting events. Exclusive introductory rates were available for people who signed up through the live shopping experience.

To make the event even more unique, Canal+ opted for a gamification approach to engage viewers and collect contact details to stay in touch. The host shared details on an exclusive prize, and viewers had to enter a drawing for a chance to win. Through this avenue, Canal+ secured permission to build a relationship with the viewers beyond the live event.

Health Brands

Health and nutrition brands that provide services like lifestyle coaching or monthly product subscriptions find the live commerce model highly effective.

French diet brand Comme J’aime, which is similar to NutriSystem or Weight Watchers in the US, has seen success with live shopping. The company is passionate about helping clients achieve their weight loss goals by helping them understand the root causes of weight gain and setting up personalized programs.

Early 2022 saw Comme J’aime leveraging live shopping to help people stick with their New Year's resolutions. Hosted by internal professionals from Comme J’aime and well-known anti-aging expert Dr. Frédéric Bompard, the event featured surprises that kept audiences tuned in. Every 15 minutes, hosts selected one lucky viewer at random to win a one-month subscription to Comme J’aime meals.

With its focus on interaction, it's no surprise that the event was a resounding success. Live shopping generated significant buzz for Comme J’aime, along with impressive engagement metrics:

  • 8,000 spectators 
  • 1,000 messages
  • 6,800+ likes
  • 1,000+ product clicks

Moving Ahead in the World of Live Shopping

McKinsey & Company has recognized the transformational power of live shopping. McKinsey reports that more industries—including healthcare, engineering, finance, and B2B—are likely to move into live commerce as its popularity grows. 

According to their recent article, live shopping can propel organizations forward in two ways:

  • Accelerating conversions. The immersive experience of live shopping can keep viewers watching longer and compress the customer journey. Limited-time promotions can foster a sense of urgency.
  • Building appeal and differentiation. A live shopping experience can foster stronger ties to existing customers and reach new audiences. Organizations can use live events to convey core brand messages and values to make a positive impression in viewers' minds.

What should non-retail organizations know about getting started with live shopping? McKinsey recommends that organizations test the waters with a low-risk event and build momentum over time. As organizations gain traction, they progress through three levels of live commerce maturity:

  • Basic. Most organizations just getting started with live commerce host infrequent events and rely heavily on influencer partners for marketing and content creation. While these organizations track key performance indicators (KPIs), these KPIs tend to be limited to simple measures such as product views and audience size. 
  • Good. Once established, organizations often start to view live shopping as a pillar of their marketing plan. They turn to dedicated, professional teams to organize and host events and use approaches to "own" the end-to-end customer experience. In addition to event KPIs, these organizations track results in real-time to gauge audience responses and enable better planning.
  • Great. Live shopping leaders focus on innovating and staying a step ahead. They broadcast live events across multiple channels and have a proven methodology for drawing audiences to their events. These organizations use cutting-edge artificial intelligence (AI) to automate critical processes and integrate technologies, such as virtual and augmented reality, into events.

While non-retail brands may be testing live shopping, a focused strategy can help them quickly adopt more mature approaches and see promising results. 

Add Live Shopping to Your Marketing Mix

Although retail was the genesis of live shopping, organizations in other industries have capitalized on this exciting new approach to digital commerce. Today, you can attend livestreams touting everything from automobiles to media subscriptions, travel destinations, and more. As live shopping continues gaining traction, there's no doubt other industries will follow suit.

Now is the time to get started, especially for U.S. organizations. Immersing your brand in the world of live shopping is a rare chance to be a trailblazer in an emerging space. Your audiences will surely notice and view you as a forward-thinking digital innovator. 

Are you a non-retail brand looking to move into live shopping? Aploze by iAdvize demonstrates proven success with top telecommunications, media, and health brands. We can help you clarify your goals and execute a professional event that elevates your presence with your audiences. Contact us today to get started.

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