Brands considering a live-shopping strategy must lean on influencers

Since October 2019 live shopping — the seamless and simultaneous mixing of online purchasing, live streaming, and social media — has been sweeping North America. Though it has grown to account for nearly 13% of all e-commerce sales in China, influencer marketing is still relatively new to the North American market, where celebrities use their celebrity to sell millions of dollars worth of perfume, fruit, and even seats on a rocket launcher. In October 2019, the cosmetics company Urban Decay used live shopping for the first time in Canada, giving the phrase “see now, purchase now” a new meaning. Live shopping is expected to grow to an $11 billion business in the United States by the end of this year, following its initial journey into the “phygital” wild west.

While “live shopping” has become a catchphrase among brand marketers, adoption is fraught with concerns. One of the most common issues we’ve heard in emails, webinars, and regular Zoom conversations is who should be the face of these live-shopping events, and how a new industry standard for selection, remuneration, and expertise can be established. As the director of marketing and communications for a North American live-shopping business, I have seen the continent’s early adopters fly to success — or learn important lessons.

I would want to explain down how businesses should pick, compensate, and coach their influencer hosts, as well as define a few crucial words industry participants should be aware of, after witnessing the influencer market develop to its current success.

Knix, a Canadian intimates business started by a woman, has a model that feeds on its client community — and the ambassadors who help bring it to life. The company pierced the $46 billion lingerie industry to usher in a new age of leakproof underwear, sportswear, and loungewear based on genuine consumer input. In 2016, the business made a significant move from retail to direct-to-consumer sales, focused on interacting and talking with customers online. Knix also has a strong influencer affiliate plan in place, seeding merchandise and offering unique 10% off discount vouchers to areas around its influencer affiliates.

Knix was also the first intimates brand to debut with Livescale earlier this year, enabling live shopping to bring even more excitement to its buzz-worthy swimsuit launch. The inaugural event, which was hosted by influencer Sarah Nicole Landry, genuine Knix customers, and Knix founder Joanna Griffiths, surpassed expectations, with overall sales conversions much above the norm for live-shopping, and definitely for a first-time event. The live-shopping experience was the first to combine social media methods with Knix brand knowledge, with online surveys, gamification elements, and direct routes to purchase without ever leaving the brand’s social networks, website, or online newsletter.

What is the secret? Part of it is due to the company’s organic community culture, which has taken years to develop and is capped off by the choice of an influential host who has known the brand for years and can speak directly to its merits without hesitation.

Live-shopping events with celebrity hosts may create headlines, but they do not necessarily result in the best sales. Budget-busting hosts, big names, and buzzy PR strategies are less significant than a well-organized script with a passionate representative, according to our statistics, What the TL; DR, Allow your host’s genuine connection to their audience to come through above everything else.