Shopping is undergoing a revolution. Instead of going to stores and markets to buy the things they need, consumers order when and where they want. Often, the items they’re buying are products and experiences they haven’t even decided to buy. The phenomenon is called discovery commerce, and it’s changing both the way people shop and the way brands connect with customers.
The engine that is driving discovery commerce is social media. For example, consumers encounter products on their Facebook and Instagram feeds, then purchase them with just a few taps on their phone. It is a process that makes shopping an integral part of daily life, rather than an occasional activity.
From a consumer perspective, the products they discover online can magically appear to pop up. In reality, their appearance is the result of a careful branding strategy supported by social media algorithms. As consumers become more and more used to this new type of fortuitous shopping, companies have a huge opportunity to expand their reach and increase sales.
“Discovery commerce gives businesses the ability to connect with consumers,” says Janelle Estes, chief Insights officer of UserTesting, a company that provides businesses with customer feedback and feedback. “Brands that are differentiating in this space are creating content that feels authentic to individual consumers.”
It is important to always check your assumptions, because you could limit your conversions by making generalizations about your customers. “
Megan Streeter, CMO, Prose
Taking advantage of the DISCOVERY TRADE
A recent survey commissioned by Meta found that three out of five online shoppers surveyed say they buy products after unexpectedly encountering them in their content feeds. This widespread embrace from discovery shopping customers recently prompted Prose, a Brooklyn-based hair care company, to partner with Meta to test the effectiveness of video ads created for specific audiences on Facebook and Instagram Reels. The campaign featured a number of influencers whose unique messages would resonate with customers with different needs and backgrounds. The goal, says Megan Streeter, Prose’s chief marketing officer, is “to reach consumers through relevant content that introduces them to something they may not have even considered.”
The campaign made sense for a company whose entire business model is driven by personalization and authenticity. To get the right hair care products for them, Prose clients participate in an online consultation that examines 85 different factors, from hair age and texture to high-tech insights that take into consideration where you live to protect your hair from moisture and geo-aggressors. The Prose team then creates made-to-order hair care products that are shipped directly to consumers.
This strong consumer focus has resulted in engaging social media content that resonated with individuals of diverse backgrounds and interests. For example, if you were a 30-year-old woman with curly red hair, you would probably have come across a different ad from someone with a different hair type and hair color. One video series featured a self-described “silver fox,” a man with shoulder-length silky gray hair who helped provide a 30% increase in the incremental reach of Prose’s male audience.
After a couple of weeks, Prose saw its cost of acquiring new customers drop 23% while completed video views tripled. These findings convinced the company of the importance of creating a wide range of ads, then testing and reviewing them repeatedly to deliver social media content to consumers who were most likely to respond. The Meta Discovery Commerce system made it easy for Prose to find new customers and strengthen ties with existing ones.
TRIAL AND LEARNING
Prose’s campaign illustrates an underlying truth of discovery commerce: When brands present their content to the right customers at the right time, it can seem like a fortune for those who see the ads. According to Streeter, this is a never-ending process, aided by Meta data insights and AI-powered testing and learning.
“It’s important to always test your assumptions, because you may be limiting your conversions by making generalizations about your customers,” says Streeter. “The information we derive from the data helps us identify which influencers and audiences we should be trying to reach. And we are able to process this data and make decisions at a much faster rate than would be possible with traditional means ”.
Data on customer engagement, AI-powered testing and learning, and actions taken by brands in response to customer behavior create the perpetual feedback loop that powers discovery shopping. Brands that embrace this process are not only building their customer base, they are also bringing an element of novelty and joy to their customers’ shopping experiences.