Will Facebook Live usher in a new era of TV home shopping?

August 3, 2016 12:05 PM

TV home shopping networks have been around for a while now. Remember the days when your mom would sit in front of the television, staring at QVC or Home Shopping Network, ordering items on impulse? This cultural habit has helped TV home shopping channels reach an incredibly large audience and pull in over $6 billion in revenue in 2015, while enabling brands  to sell hundreds of thousands of products in just minutes!

In recent years, however, a change in consumer habits has shifted power away from HSN and QVC. We have already seen signs of declines in TV viewership in key demographic groups such as millennials, with a 22% drop in time spent watched over the last 5 years. As people spend less time watching TV, they will inevitably spend less time shopping on TV. With this, there is a new opportunity for the market to be disrupted: live video platforms such as Facebook Live.

Facebook Live rolled out last year in a closed test and has recently opened to all users. It will change how companies sell products online, since now businesses can directly target consumers based on their Facebook profile and essentially create their own online shopping channels within one of the biggest social platforms in the world.

Having a broadcast platform that allows you to reach a precise set of consumers is very enticing for many brands, since it enables them to target specific age groups, select interests and even geographic locations. These are capabilities that are simply not feasible on TV home shopping networks. With this granular targeting capability, brands carrying products that are more niche than those commonly seen on TV, can now market through Facebook Live. This opens up tremendous new channel opportunities for businesses across all industries.

Taking it a step further, imagine a company that can broadcast its sales content live at the exact moment that its target audience opens a Facebook page. The audience could then make direct purchases via the social platform. Video is much more engaging and dynamic than static images and could eventually become a significant online shopping channel.

HSN and QVC will no longer have complete control over TV home shopping like they did in the past. The same way that the internet allowed anyone with a product to sell online, Facebook Live now enables anyone to create their own home shopping channel online. It’s the democratization of live home shopping!

Soon all brands will have the capability to build out their own Facebook Live home shopping channels and reach thousands or even millions of followers. In even more exciting news, they will also be able to extend that reach to any group of the over 1.6 billion Facebook users, through targeted campaigns.

One example of a Facebook Live scenario is as follows: There is a 25-year old, single woman. She works as a busy attorney in the city. She’s health-conscious, belongs to several Facebook fitness groups and loves to post pictures of what she eats. Armed with this data, a brand such as Ninja Blender could target her—even if she is not a fan of Ninja—with the help of a customized shopping program based around fitness products (juicers, blenders, cleanse programs, etc.). She can watch the program and shop the products while using Facebook Live.

The real opportunity here is that any brand or company can pick up a camera, set up a small studio and launch an online shopping channel that competes with and most likely surpasses home shopping networks. All you need is a camera, on-air talent and Shopify for Facebook to tie it all together. With this new technology, Facebook may finally be able to create an e-commerce platform that all brands will eventually use on a regular basis to create dynamic new shopping channels for their customers.

SUMO Heavy is a digital commerce consulting firm based in New York and Philadelphia





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