Phone apps

Source: Unsplash

Retailers must look for ways to stand out amongst an increasingly mobile-orientated customer base

It’s hard to avoid the headlines TikTok has been making since the pandemic. The short-form video platform has grown exponentially, particularly amongst gen Z, now boasting over one billion monthly active users

While it was inevitable such a platform would eventually emerge in a mobile-dominated society, short-form user-generated video has been around for over a decade. Starting with Vine and moving to Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, the appetite for this type of content is unwavering, and its ability to impact viewers is significant.

A 2020 study by Wyzowl reported that people share videos at twice the rate than any other form of content. It also found 84% of people were convinced to buy a product or service based on a brand’s video. Brand-building marketers have been using video content across their paid media for many years, with 87% citing the delivery of ROI  as a result – demonstrating that this media can actually affect both ends of the purchase funnel, given the ability to communicate so strongly a brand’s reason to believe.

TikTok has established a unique position in this market and become a gold rush for influencers, brands and creators. A great example of branded content comes from M&S, whose organic strategy centres around Percy Pig. Its activity around the character replicating popular dances from TikTok drove both organic audience growth and engagement, and was further supported with paid media around Valentine’s Day. As a result, the total 18.5 million impressions helped to increase supermarket sales by 15%.

@mandsfood Man like Percy 😎😎😎 #mands #mandsfood #percypig #roadman ♬ original sound - M&S Food

Despite this clear influence, retailers have yet to integrate shoppable short-form video content into their e-commerce or in-store media estates. This is partly because it has been technically difficult to integrate video seamlessly into complex websites. Page loading times and website architecture have been the top priority for retail web developers.

However, as the marketplace becomes more competitive, brands are looking for effective ways to stand out amongst an increasingly mobile-orientated customer base, which could create a risk for more traditional retailer brand investment if new innovations are not embraced. The fact that TikTok and Meta are firmly on their way to establishing in-platform marketplaces for brands and retail is testament to this future trajectory. Retailers must think about how to manage this future, or risk losing control of key sales environments.

The good news is technology is advancing and will grow in sophistication very quickly. According to Firework, a technology provider offering shoppable, live and dynamic video tools for the e-commerce market, an estimated 20% of all online conversions will be driven by short and live videos by 2026. They recently secured $150m investment in a Series B funding round, led by Softbank, the parent organisation of Yahoo.

What does this mean for brands? There is a need to begin investing in short-form video content to engage users and drive conversion. When retailers enable shoppable video functionality across their networks, brands need to be ready to deliver an authentic and positive experience for consumers, be that recipe inspiration at the digital shelf edge or product demonstrations. Alongside this, with the removal of cookies on the horizon, over-investing in contextually relevant content will only help to strengthen brand positioning and direct consumer choices in aid of brand KPIs.

Short-form video isn’t a golden bullet. There will always be a place for long-form, static and detailed content in the marketing mix. But what we do know is attention spans are getting shorter and, as a result, short-form content is needed to maintain consumer interest as they navigate a world dominated by advertising. In an industry where consumer decision-making is already fragile and impulsive, retailers and brands need to combat these challenges to stay on top.