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This week's top 5 cultural insights and e-commerce trends: 18 November 2019

Business · 4 min read

AOB: 18 November 2019

A farewell to old-fashioned roles, a rallying cry for authenticity, and a welcome to new ways of searching online. Time for this week’s AOB.

Taylor Swift on show for Singles' Day

You may already know about Singles' Day – the unofficial Chinese national holiday dedicated to a 24-hour shopping spree that dominates consumer commerce in China. It’s akin to Black Friday and Cyber Monday in the US, but beats them in size as well as dwarfing their sales ($30.8bn in 2018 compared to Black Friday, $6.2bn and Cyber Monday, £7.9bn). This year was the biggest yet, breaking records with over $38bn of discounted merchandise sold in the 24 hour period. With Taylor Swift – the world’s biggest recording artist – headlining the launch event, it’s reflective of the new internationalism of the day, as it now includes twenty-two thousand brands from eighty countries.

Interest from Western brands however, lies beyond the glitz and glamour of the launch events ‘Super Show’. What’s useful for these brands is the understanding of the mechanics of Singles' Day, consumer motivations and the platform itself. More specifically, how celebrity is vital to the experience, the importance of sociability built by these celebrities and peers, seamless integration of online and offline, and the growing opportunity in the luxury sector. Identifying and understanding these emotive drivers can strengthen success in e-commerce. Success on Singles Day doesn’t arrive without preparation, so we’ve compiled a set of strategic tips so you can capitalize on the frenzy of online consumption.

A goodbye to gender roles

A study conducted by idealo has revealed that Gen Z women are challenging old-fashioned gender roles, by buying traditionally ‘male’ products like power tools and drones more than women in other age groups. The study looked at shopping behaviors in six product categories where men have historically been the main purchasers, with the results showing that the male/female gap is closing. Katy Phillips, Communications and PR Manager at idealo, says “Our research is clear proof that younger Y and Z female generations are spearheading the shift in gender norms and increasingly exercising their purchasing power across historically male-dominated shopping areas.”

There’s further support to this shift, as other articles suggest and support the claim that gender stereotypes are dissolving, and that gender no longer defines a person as much as it used to. This has created an interesting opportunity for brands to adapt and rebrand towards young people exploring products and sectors they’ve previously been excluded from. Getting your brand ready for this change, whether that’s for more inclusive gender-neutral products, or an overhaul of your positioning, could have commercial benefits as Gen Zers show support through their wallets.

Indian shoppers choosing Instagram over in-store

Instagram is no longer just a photographic tool for city dwellers to capture the latest sunset with a litany of hashtags. In fact, the social platform is carving a new niche as a space for product discovery and purchase in India. According to a report by WATConsultt, more than 50% of Instagram’s 117.1 million active users in India have shopped using this platform – and, importantly, it’s not urbanites that are making the most of this experience. Instead, it’s Indian people from more rural areas, with almost 75% of users,who shop on Instagram, coming from small towns.

The rise of use by rural Indians is due to the higher accessibility of smartphones and cheaper data rates, which arms them with the ability to explore shops – and stay on top of trends by viewing stores that were previously inaccessible in person. With mobile being a primary way of accessing the internet, it’s important to create a seamless way to engage with customers from further afield.

Retailers love the sound of your voice

The convenience of shopping with their voice has consumers hooked. The share of consumers who own voice-activated devices has doubled since 2017, and it’s not just a one-off, as voice is used regularly for purchases, listening to music, or checking the weather which highlights the importance of voice search optimization in your business strategy. The How We Will Pay Study shows that consumers aren’t just tied to a single device, either, but that they engage in voice-enabled commerce across multiple devices – showing that they are more interested in the experience, rather than the novelty on a single device.

Users already using their voice for purchases are also more open to trying new connected commerce experiences than those who have not. Half of consumers who own voice-enabled devices say they would be interested in using apps that automatically pay for restaurant orders, and 46% would be keen for apps that allow automatic payment for instore purchases.

The search revolution with Visual AI

Getting your products seen and heard in a crowded marketplace is always going to be a challenge – which is why harnessing visual AI could be a viable solution to getting your customers to your product quicker (and more conveniently) than through a traditional keyword search.

Visual AI is coming out of its infancy, with brands like Pinterest having already successfully implemented it. But what is it? In short, it’s a product search by picture. It means you’ll no longer be reliant on keyword searches that may lead customers elsewhere if they lack the right details. And, instead, a simple snapshot of the item can be run through an algorithm, that leads them to where they – and your business – want them to be.

There are claims that early adopters of Visual AI in the e-commerce industry may see a 30% increase in revenue in 2021, as consumers favor the convenience. And it’s not just shoppers who’ll reap the rewards.

The ability to tag your product images means they’ll be found more easily in searches, and you can even use visual AI as a way to keep tabs on competitors as you analyse their social media. Plus, by assessing which images receive the most engagement, you can use the data to your advantage to boost your own return. So, it pays to make your business picture-perfect going forward.

Steve Whittingham
Steve Whittingham Discover Content Author