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Livestreaming and Influencers Present Big Opportunities in 2021

Over the past decade, the digital revolution has changed how retail navigates a complicated and fragmented technology landscape. Social commerce tools like customer ratings, user recommendations, and online forums skyrocketed in popularity by amplifying consumers’ voices. Brands created more customer journeys and catered to a widening set of consumer needs via social shopping. And convenience remained key to customer experiences.


COVID-19 forced retailers to rely on social commerce more than ever before. However, with vaccine solutions rolling out globally, physical stores are prized for a comeback. Social commerce players must work harder to win over consumer attention as more people finally free themselves from cabin fever in 2021. Here are some opportunities brands should consider:



Singles’ Day—the Chinese shopping event (Nov. 11) celebrating unmarried people—is also the biggest day on global retail’s calendar. Alibaba’s annual event reportedly earned $74 billion last month with support from livestreams. The video selling efforts of partnering brands like Cartier and Nike embrace a direct approach that follows in the footsteps of QVC’s golden age. Nike even generated $15 million in just one minute. But independent stores could have the most to gain from the personal brand touches that livestreamsing facilitates.


“I see more examples of small retailers and even some independent retailers realizing that [livestreaming] is an opportunity they can use to distinguish themselves from big box brands,” said Ricardo Belmar on RETHINK Retail’s Retail Rundown podcast.


[See More: 2020: The Year of Livestreaming]


Allowing independent owners to market themselves through livestreaming provides their stores with a rare chance to even the playing field. It can reduce a smaller store’s need to run pricey omnichannel marketing campaigns that sometimes require a third-party agency. The copywriter, designer, and commercial producer become circumvented and replaced by the hearts and souls of workers. And the opportunity to convey a purer message is just one or two taps away.


Influencer Marketing

Another element to livestreaming—influencer marketing—is not abandoning social commerce anytime soon. Retired NBA Hall-of-Famer Magic Johnson recently appeared on-stream to promote Uncle Bud’s hemp and cannabis-based body gels and lotions on Alibaba’s Tmall Global platform.


“He is charismatic, influential and trusted…Uncle Bud’s Hemp & CBD is thrilled to partner with Magic Johnson and educate folks about all the benefits behind the brand’s vast collection of Hemp & CBD products,”  said Uncle Bud’s Co-Founder Garrett Greller.


[See More: How Uncle Bud’s Went From Boutique to Global Brand in 18 Months]


Like Alibaba, e-commerce platform XiaoHongShu rolled out an influencer marketing platform last year that goes beyond streaming, allowing content to be shared within or outside its platform.


But while the effects of their promotions are sometimes harder to predict, influencers typically generate more product ROI via social media. TikTok has breezed past controversies it’s faced this past year: the video app is projected to pass one billion active monthly users in 2021.


Its lineup of rising stars is expanding, which opens up more avenues for influencers to win the trust of followers (representing a target demographic) with a relatable or respectable voice.