‘Shoppertainment’ makes presence felt in PH
Watch an online merchant live streaming his or her sale, and you’ll easily be reminded (if you fall in the right age group) of hosts smiling effortlessly while describing, on TV, different products, and tirelessly convincing you to dial that number being flashed onscreen to avail yourself of big, big discounts.
The big difference with online sale streams, however, is there’s no need to go through a telephone hotline anymore; all you need to do is to click on that shopping cart icon, and the item’s as good as yours — give or take a few days, because of shipping.
These live streams, says Yasmin Neri-Soyao, CEO of live streaming company Shoppertainment Live, are the natural evolution of home TV shopping, and it’s a rapidly growing industry because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Because of the enhanced community quarantine, our productions improved, and we had to accelerate our online broadcasting,” says Soyao, who may be a familiar face to home TV shoppers, as she was once a host on O Shopping. She also used to be part of Creative Programs, Inc. a subsidiary of ABS-CBN Corporation “that operates and distributes pay TV channels and provides pay-per-view services to direct-to-home satellite and cable television providers in the Philippines.”
A meeting with Steve Sy, CEO of local e-commerce solutions provider Great Deals, led Soyao to establish Shoppertainment Live last year, she says, with Sy as one of her partners.
“It made sense when we started talking about [establishing the company]. Lazada and Shopee were already doing these livestream initiatives, and [online Chinese shopping website] Taobao was also making livestreams really big in China,” Soyao says.
More than just selling, the ultimate goal of these livestreams, she explains, are to build communities and store engagement. “This is very important, because this makes your store more relevant to shoppers,” Soyao adds.And with in-store activations and promos all on hold because of the pandemic, live streaming also provides brands and businesses with a new avenue for marketing.
“Shoppertainment is real-time marketing with real results,” she says.
Shoppertainment Live’s streams last 45 minutes to an hour, and can happen anytime during the day. These are produced at their studios inside their Quezon City headquarters, where they have an in-house host. Depending on a brand’s requirements, they also get hosts from a talent pool whom Soyao calls their “influen-sales”—Shoppertainment’s own brand of online influencers.
“There’s a big difference between an influencer pushing for a product versus how Shoppertainment’s influen-sales do it,” says Soyao. “They need to be the eyes, nose, ears, the feel of the viewers, because [the buyers] can’t really check out the product. They emphasize certain benefits of the product, like, say, showing them how one item is really scratch-proof; they make it a point to be visual.”
Aside from these influen-sales, Soyao says a chat support is always ready to answer customers’ questions which can’t be addressed by the host during the stream, making it a truly interactive experience for shoppers.
Large brands have already partnered with Shoppertainment, such as Nestle, Unilever, Pedigree, and Whiskas. The recent 9.9 sale period was pretty hectic for them, Soyao says, and she expects the months leading up to the holidays to be the same.Productions are mounted within a week, which much faster than the turnaround time of a home TV shopping broadcast, which is around a month, says Soyao.
However, while live streaming is a completely new and different platform, it brings with it home shopping broadcasting fundamentals, says Lawrence Lee, Shoppertainment’s broadcast head, who also worked with Soyao in O Shopping: “The streams need to be a bit long because viewers are in and out of the platform. The important information is also constantly repeated.” Lee, who spent 16 years in the local TV industry before joining Shoppertainment, says he strongly believes in the power of going digital for brands and businesses. “The vision here is long-term, and there’s great potential for growth,” he says.
“People might be saying that this is a fad, but it’s not,” Soyao adds. “Live streaming won’t replace live activations, but it’s here to stay. It’s now part of the marketplace.”