Trend Alert: Video commerce

Trend Alert introduces you to the latest brands, products and services that are trending with 16-24s.

Earlier this year, Instagram declared developing their ecommerce proposition a key focus for 2019, but so far the features have been simple and their rollout limited. They’ve enabled brands to make their images and videos shoppable, and US users can now make purchases in-app, but looking across to China’s social commerce landscape reveals the opportunities for innovation that remain unexplored by the leading platforms in the West. The area with the most untapped potential is undoubtedly video commerce.

A fascinating article by VC firm Andreessen Horowitz last month showcased some of the exciting innovations that are already integral to the online shopping experience in China. This includes everything from purchase links embedded in videos, to QVC-style livestreams where influencers promote products for a cut of the profits. Most importantly, making a purchase couldn’t be simpler as the checkout process requires just a few taps of the screen.

In the US, the popularity of NTWRK shows that video can be an impressive sales driver for young consumers, especially when top designer brands and influencers are involved. Bringing video commerce functionality into an app like Instagram, which is already used by 68% of American 16-24s at least once a week according to our new US Youth Trends Report, would be even more powerful. However, if they do choose to tackle video commerce, they’re likely to face a challenge from their fastest-growing competitor, TikTok.

TikTok is the US version of an app already huge in China, called Douyin. While the basic concept is the same, Douyin has some advanced features not available on TikTok. For example, after a video plays, it is repeated with options to purchase the products featured, and a selection of videos showing related products is provided, giving the feel of browsing a physical store. There are also product pages featuring a selection of video reviews, giving consumers a better understanding of what to expect from the product than a written review could ever provide.

While their parent company might give TikTok a technological advantage in the race to implement video commerce tools, Instagram has a different advantage. While TikTok is perceived as the home of lighthearted viral content, Instagram is established as the go-to app for young consumers to discover products and brands, and according to our Youth Trends survey, it’s 16-24s’ favourite place to see ads on social media. It will be exciting to see how Instagram, TikTok and other platforms take on the challenge in the year ahead, and how brands capitalise on the trend to maximise their visibility and drive sales with the Gen Z demographic.

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