When states and countries begin reopening stores, restaurants, workplaces, and entertainment spaces, we’ll be living in a dramatically different world then we were before the COVID-19 pandemic. How could anyone truly predict a global pandemic and the aftermath it would leave on our economy? Yet, here we are as consumers, business owners and marketers, stuck somewhere between a roaring economic machine and the abyss.
When the world begins to open back up, multiple industries will have undoubtedly changed, in some ways we’re able to predict, and some we’re unable to anticipate. What will shopping look like? What will travel feel like? Will dining out ever be the same again? Although these are all uncomfortable thoughts, they’re ubiquitous to everyone — and it’s ultimately healthy and smart to embrace the unknown, both personally and professionally.
Although things will be different in the short term, companies can expect to emerge from this situation with greater clarity and data about their audiences than before. As we've all been sheltering in place, we've been glued to our screens and are consuming more content than ever before. Netflix, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and digital publishers across the board are seeing a massive spike in video consumption. Early statistics at the end of March showed internet usage surged between 50 percent to 70 percent, and estimates reported streaming increased by 12 percent. And according to new Nielsen data, Americans streamed 85 percent more minutes of video in March 2020 than in March 2019.
It’s not surprising that video consumption is up during these times; this shows that video is king and will remain that way for the foreseeable future. Brands and marketers have used video effectively in the past, however, with the idea that the brick-and-mortar purchasing model of simply walking into a store might not be possible, it’s more important than ever for brands to focus on creating engaging and interactive video experiences to reach consumers.
When we delve deeper into the challenges facing retail, we find that the idea of shopping has changed over the last several months, with essential goods dominating the mind-set of consumers and their wallets. Outside of these essentials, consumers generally aren’t purchasing many additional products that would have been relevant for their active lives commuting, working and socializing, although aren’t as needed while sheltering in place at home.
However, the difference lies in the lingering consumer discomfort around shopping in person. Brands and retailers need to be cognizant of this and must begin to rely more heavily on different technologies that create seamless “shoppability” almost anywhere, online. From images to videos to 3D and augmented reality/virtual reality experiences, consumers need the freedom to shop however and whenever they want online.
One of the formats that's primed to take off in this environment is shoppable video. With more video being consumed every day due to consumers’ increased downtime and, therefore, screen time, it’s time that commerce and video finally collide to effectively allow for seamless monetization and better user experience. Improved user experience for the shopper starts with a clean slate by removing all the clutter on top. Today’s modern consumer knows what they like and want to maintain their personal style and uniqueness. Therefore, simplifying the approach removes barriers and allows the viewer to explore products on their own and shop how they want while using this type of technology.
Although the data suggests many consumers are buying online, an estimated 2 billion of them this year alone, without the option of in-store experiences there will be even more pressure to create immersive experiences online. The brands that create the best user experience, engage the most thoughtfully, and communicate effectively with their customers will win.
So what’s to come this year? We’ll begin to see “future projects” accelerated forward based on market conditions; sometimes, it takes an unpleasant situation to wake an industry up and push it to quickly evolve. Eventually, workers will return to the office and stores will re-open, although until then, it’s important for brands to embrace the unknown and prepare for an accelerated future.
Chris Roebuck is founder and CEO of shoppable video platform Clicktivated.