How Brands Are Future-Proofing Their Community With Technology4 min readReading Time: 2 minutes
19+ million users of Depop are finding new ways to keep themselves engaged. Lois, a young buyer & seller, creates upcycled pieces with football scarves and photographs them using a camera mounted atop a stack of books. She took to Instagram to share these lockdown tips and tricks with Depop’s 626 K Instagram followers.
The peer-to-peer shopping platform engages with its Gen Z-dominated community by sharing clips of ‘Day In The Life’ of sellers like Lois. Depop also publishes interviews with the creatives, hosts stay-at-home sessions, and highlights buyers’ thrift finds.
Pre-COVID, these sessions existed in a blended space — offline popup events and so forth. Post-COVID, the Depop community experience has become digital-first-and-only.
Consumer and Community
Gen Z-focused brands like Depop, thredUP, Lululemon, and Supreme are scaling dizzying heights of success by investing in their community. ThredUp, for example, registered a healthy 20% growth during the COVID retail slump and May 2020’s new visits broke all records. This tactic worked well primarily because the young generation craves collaborative spaces that are open, inclusive, real, diverse, and relatable, as revealed in Afterpay’s Gen Z report. Direct-to-consumer model’s exponential growth during the pandemic was also fuelled by Gen Z’s interest in community commerce.
With Instagram launching its new ‘Shop’ feature that allows users to buy without leaving the app, the role of a brand community and consumers-turned-micro-influencers will get bigger and better. This unique IG social shopping experience is already live on Sephora.
Community Building Via Technology
Social media channels like Instagram offer a front-row seat to Gen Z who want to actively participate in the evolution of experiential marketing in retail. Technology, on the other hand, can tailor community experiences for young consumers who prefer private backstage.
Brands like Coach, Urban Outfitters, and Madhappy are experimenting with mobile messaging to connect with consumers who are a part of private groups and micro-communities on social media — the ones who respond better to personalized DMs over tags on a public post. A survey backed this notion when it revealed that 60% of respondents felt comfortable sharing their views on private groups.
Personalized text messaging platforms like Attentive are able to help brands reach these consumers through behaviour-targeted texts. Besides personalizing the community experience, this option is also economical and more effective in comparison to other community building strategies.
Squad Shopping, Live Streams and Data
In addition to facilitating targeted reach, tech businesses are also helping retailers personalize shopping and community via new-age retail concepts such as squad shopping and live streaming.
Squadded Shopping Party, a social platform created by former L’Oréal brand manager Elysa Kahn, enables its users to shop online with their friends just with a browser extension. Squad shopping is the missing piece of the online retail puzzle, Kahn believes. This is particularly relevant to Neilsen’s finding that 92% of people trust recommendations from friends and family over advertising.
The adoption rate of shoppable live streams, another successful community commerce strategy straight from Asia, rapidly increased in the pandemic. When integrated on the website, these community-engaging tech tools can provide valuable information about the big shifts in consumer behaviour.