The company behind Ntwrk, an app that sells limited-edition merchandise during live-streamed videos often hosted by celebrities, has hired its first chief marketing officer and is planning its first major ad campaign.
Ntwrk executives want to raise awareness of the app and its live-stream shopping experience, said
the newly named CMO at Ntwrk, which is operated by Commerce Media Holdings LLC. Founded in 2018, Ntwrk describes itself as a Home Shopping Network or QVC for younger consumers on mobile platforms.
“It’s exercising a new muscle that consumers aren’t accustomed to,” said Mr. Brown, previously vice president of marketing at Foot Locker Inc., which has invested in Ntwrk. He begins the new role July 1.
Live-streamed shopping has become popular in China, particularly since last year’s coronavirus pandemic lockdowns. Marketers and tech companies are trying to duplicate the craze in the U.S., though whether it takes off remains to be seen.
offer live-streamed shopping in the U.S., but it still accounts for a fraction of overall retail sales.
Coresight Research, an advisory and research firm that focuses on retail and technology, predicts live-streamed shopping in the U.S. will total $25 billion in sales by 2023. But its $11 billion forecast for this year is likely to prove optimistic, said
Coresight’s chief executive and founder. “I think it’s single digits,” she said. In comparison, the National Retail Federation predicts total U.S. retail sales of about $4.4 trillion this year.
Ms. Weinswig said that she believes that the $25 billion estimate will pan out, but that more U.S. sellers need to adopt the strategies that work in China. That means complementing the use of influencers in sales events, for example, with more frequent, less carefully produced streams hosted by the likes of store workers, she said.
“Brands that we work with in China right now are streaming 16 hours a week at a minimum,” Ms. Weinswig added. “We have companies in the U.S. that are like, ‘We’re going to plan for four months for a one-hour shoot.’”
Ntwrk has done live streams with singer Billie Eilish—selling prints from artists selected by the singer at $50 a pop—and with fashion designers including Alexander Wang. Ntwrk’s first video in 2018 featured hip-hop producer DJ Khaled and street artist Retna promoting limited-edition Beats by Dre headphones that they designed.
“We looked to China but felt that North America needed a different approach,” said
Ntwrk’s president. “North Americans want validation,” he said, citing for example consumers’ interest in the product recommendations of outlets such as Vogue or Complex, a youth-focused media brand focused on style, pop culture and sports.
“Our product assortment has to have that level of curation to establish that trust,” Mr. Fitzgibbons said.
Ntwrk’s ad campaign remains early in the planning process, but is likely to position the app as “the greatest mall you never knew,” Mr. Fitzgibbons said. The all-digital effort will probably run for two to three months beginning in late August or early September, relying entirely on ads in the vertical video format familiar from social-media apps on smartphones, and appearing on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, TikTok and Snapchat, he said.
Live-streamed shopping will be different on every platform that offers it, and perform differently as well, said Mr. Brown, the Ntwrk CMO. “In some instances it’s going to be a function of engineering and how great the experience is. In some instances it will succeed or not depending on the products and the people.”
Amazon, which has offered live-streamed shopping since 2016, this year has hosted shoppable events such as the launch of its shoe collection with singer Katy Perry and monthly multibrand “festivals” called Beauty Haul Live.
This spring and summer, Facebook is running streams with companies including Bobbi Brown Cosmetics and Sephora, hoping to draw more people to its Live Shopping platform, launched last year.
Walmart last month streamed a shopping event starring Ree Drummond, the food and lifestyle personality known as the Pioneer Woman, on Facebook as well as its own website. Brands including Tommy Hilfiger and
& Co. have been pursuing live-streamed shopping events as well.
Facebook said that small and midsize businesses have been some of the earliest adopters of its live-shopping tools, particularly as the pandemic curtailed visits to their stores, and that larger brands were increasingly trying it.
Petco Health & Wellness Co.
generated higher sales than it expected when it used Facebook to mount a live, shoppable fashion show for dogs on April 29, according to
vice president of media transformation at Petco. “We didn’t necessarily have huge expectations,” Mr. Altschuler said. “We set it up as a test.”
Petco learned that it needed to slow down its presentation to give consumers more time to buy, Mr. Altschuler said. The company also found that there was a benefit even after the end of the live stream, which it continued to promote to consumers as a replay, he added: “We ended up selling a decent amount in the long tail in the weeks after the event.”
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