It is undeniable that product placement is increasingly influencing consumers’ purchasing habits. From Coronation Street to Love Island, it seems hard to get away from brand endorsements and promotional content on TV today.
And now, brands are gearing up to integrate the viewing and shopping experiences with shoppable content.
Amazon is trying to position itself to be at the forefront of this movement. The digital giant recently ordered a new ‘shoppable’ TV show for its Prime Video service with Project Runway hosts Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn as presenters. This shoppable content will combine elements of the traditional reality competition format with e-commerce, opening up what Amazon hopes to be a new market of viewer-buyers.
But is this really as novel as it sounds?
Shoppable content gets a rebrand
For years, brands have been adapting and refining their approach to selling products along with the rapid evolution of technology, meaning ‘shoppable content’ has existed in many forms. The arrival of teleshopping, almost 40 years ago, ushered in a new era of cross-platform purchasing possibilities – and online shopping, spearheaded by Amazon, marked the start of the digital age of commerce.
Amazon’s new shoppable reality show, which currently does not have a name, will aim to take all the best aspects of these established platforms and merge them. The shoppable element of the show will allow viewers to purchase products they see on the show, creating a direct link between designers and consumers.
By merging its online video and retail capabilities, Amazon plans to tap into consumers’ growing preference for SVOD services and quick buys. The online retailer, whose Prime Video service launched worldwide in 2016, probably sees this as a logical next step.
But this isn’t Amazon’s first foray into the combined world of fashion, shopping, and media.
Style Code Live was first launched in March 2016 as a QVC-style online show offering fashion and beauty advice from style experts. However, after failing to capture the attentions of audiences (probably – the e-commerce giant hasn’t exactly shared their stats on this), the Amazon-exclusive show was cancelled just over a year after its launch.
Is this failed programme indicative of wider consumer disinterest in this sales/media hybrid? It doesn’t seem like it.
Bridging Media & Fashion
Other brands have managed to successfully bring together fashion and new media in recent years.
Depop, for instance, has achieved great success as a social marketplace for clothes – bringing together the aesthetics of Instagram with the functionality of eBay. With over 10 million downloads since its launch, Depop’s former CEO claims that word-of-mouth is the secret to the massive popularity of the app, as 80% of its user base consists of under 25s.
YouTube shows like PAQ offer another example of the confluence of new media and fashion. The YouTube streetwear show features 4 friends trying out the latest fashion trends and completing style-related challenges. PAQ’s YouTube channel has amassed over 390,000 subscribers in under 2 years following its launch and, with a large viewership of 16-24s, brands like Adidas and Reebok have pounced at the opportunity to work with the show makers.
SVOD Shopping – will it work?
Looking past Amazon’s failed experiment in the genre, big fashion brands including Ted Baker and Diesel have already been releasing shoppable videos for years – and these have boosted sales and online engagement maybe even up to 30%. So after a little initial bump, it looks like, Amazon might be onto a winner with their new shoppable content – right? I’m not 100% convinced.
There are a few things I’m curious about moving forward:
Ted Bakers’s videos are short and sweet Reading through Digiday’s fascinating assessment of Ted Baker’s trend-bucking, interactive video advertising – one of the brand’s key learnings is that consumers quickly become overwhelmed by the length and complexity of shoppable videos. With each release, these videos are getting shorter and shorter (with their Christmas release sitting under 2 minutes). While we don’t know the length of Amazon’s new show, it will be miles away from the multi-minute clips distributed by Ted Baker – will this novel shoppable format be sustainable over a traditional show length? Will shoppers stay engaged?
Building a personal connection There is a strong streak of active curation that runs through Depop and PAQ: These interactive online platforms provide for young people what a bombardment of targeted social media ads or a reality competition never could: a personal connection. Building on the foundations of the influencer phenomenon, these platforms combine on-trend, youth-oriented content with familiar faces to forge a sense of online community. Will the show be able to tap into this? Or will that even matter?
Blatant Consumerism on Show Frankly, I’m also curious to see how much traction a show like this has with viewers. In an age that is all about ‘authenticity’ will an explicitly consumerist programme have cut through?
So lots of questions – Will this risk pay off for the digital giant? Or are we looking at Style Code Live 2.0? I guess we’ll just have to stay tuned to find out when Amazon drops the show next year.