Petco is among a growing number of retailers and brands that have begun testing livestream selling as another digital channel to engage with customers and sell their product. In the case of Petco, the retailer has partnered with Facebook to host livestream events via the social platform. In an exclusive interview with Total Retail, Jay Altschuler, vice president of media transformation at Petco, details the retailer's strategy for livestream selling, including why it's bullish on the channel going forward.
Total Retail: Why has Petco decided to invest in livestream shopping via Facebook Live?
Jay Altschuler: At Petco, we’ve rapidly expanded and placed continued focus on our e-commerce and digital business offerings, and we’re constantly looking for new ways to reach pet parents where and how they’re already shopping. Consumers are increasingly exploring and discovering things they love in social environments and they’re looking for faster, more convenient ways to shop and real-time engagement with the brands they love. Our goal is to be a leader in innovating and driving the use of social commerce in our category and in the U.S.
TR: What goals has Petco set for its livestream shopping events?
JA: Live shopping events create shoppable moments for fans and allow brands to entertain, educate and inspire. We’ve leveraged livestream shopping events to better reach our customers where they prefer to shop and engage with them in new, unique ways at the intersection of entertainment, shopping and heartfelt give-back experiences. One of our biggest unlocks has been seeing live social commerce activations as more than just a single moment in time. We engage pet parents and create excitement for our brand in the live event, then extend the experience to even more pet parents through a mix of organic, paid, commerce and influencer marketing for a three-to-four-week campaign. Petco continues to push the envelope with a test-and-learn mindset, utilizing innovative tactics and creative content to reach new audiences.
TR: What was the internal process for selecting the products, talent and concept for the Facebook Live event?
JA: For our latest event, Petco Holiday Special Facebook Live, every phase of the planning process was highly collaborative to ensure the livestream reflected our overall integrated marketing holiday campaign as well as captured the ethos of our Merry Makings collection and Petco mission overall. Internally, this collaboration included working with partners spanning our creative, social media, merchandising, communications and Petco Love teams. This integrated approach also applied externally with our agency partners at Blue Hour Studios and Edelman being involved in every step of the way. Influencer and creator partners, such as our holiday live event hosts Sarah Hyland and Wells Adams, help us bring in fresh perspectives on the experiences we’re building and draw even more interest from our target audience as authentic, engaged members of the pet parent community themselves.
TR: How did Petco target the right audience to attend its Facebook Live shopping event? What marketing channels and activities were in the promo leading up to the event?
JA: Pre-event promotion spanned paid and organic social media in addition to earned media efforts, leveraging our celebrity hosts Sarah Hyland and Wells Adams. We relied on Facebook’s native targeting to reach past live event viewers, people interested in other pet retailers, those engaged with our Facebook and Instagram pages, and broader interests like cats and dogs. We also made sure to retarget current Petco shoppers so they had an alternative and interactive way to shop this holiday season.
TR: What results did Petco see from its Facebook Live event?
JA: We executed the holiday live event during an extremely competitive time on Facebook, but our team did a great job at actively optimizing the event to drive performance. The results are still coming in on revenue, but we;re pacing to have a return on investment positive event. The live video has more than 2 million three-second views.
We also surpassed all video and engagement metrics from our first two live events. Our holiday live reached more viewers than the past events — more than 400 percent compared to our first “Perfect Fit” event and more than 100 percent compared to our "Field Day” event. We’ve seen our audience retention positively grow with each Facebook Shopping Event — our holiday event had more tune-in than the prior two events. Additionally, we’ve seen positive brand lift results, with our favorability and brand recommendation figures coming in well above the retail norm.
TR: How does livestream shopping factor into Petco's future marketing and customer acquisition strategies?
JA: As consumers continue to lean into omnichannel shopping, Petco will prioritize its e-commerce presence to help pet parents care for the health and wellness of the pets they love. Knowing how consumers use social media to stay on top of the latest trends, and even look to influencers’ shopping habits and preferences, we’ll continue to consider live shopping and other new digital shopping options to broaden Petco’s exposure with a digital-first audience and position us as early adopters in the space. We’ve seen great successes to date and are looking forward to continuing to play in this space.