By Danielle Long, Acting APAC Editor

December 1, 2022 | 9 min read

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Combining shopping and entertainment to unlock a trillion-dollar opportunity, Shoppertainment is providing brands in Asia Pacific with an engaging way to connect with consumers, according to new research by TikTok and Boston Consulting Group (BCG).

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To explore how APAC brands can utilize this trillion-dollar opportunity, The Drum joined more than 80 industry leaders at TikTok’s CXO event for an expert panel with insights from; Aparna Bharadwaj, managing director and partner BCG, Rahma Assante, head of marketing, research and insights, TikTok APAC, Bianca Sing, global digital and PR lead for Pond's at Unilever, and TikTok creator Ian Jeevan.

Shifting consumer behavior

As consumer needs have evolved so too has shopping. However, faced with more platforms, choices, and control than ever before consumers are also more distracted and it's harder to retain their attention, according to Aparna Bharadwaj, managing director and partner at Boston Consulting Group.

The emergence of entertaining and emotional brand content has dramatically impacted how people shop. Marketers face a significant challenge, with nearly half (46%) of all consumers purchasing products on a different day to view content and 34% of consumers skeptical of branded content.

“When we asked consumers what turned them away from brands, they tell us it’s exaggerated, picture-perfect, boring, and distracting content,” says Bharadwaj. “But, if we look at shopping moments, we see that consumers increasingly want an element of fun in the process.

“Our findings revealed shoppers value fun and emotional connection with brands. They want shopping to fulfill and connect with their emotional needs. They are seeking fun and entertainment, credibility and genuineness, inspirations, indulgences, and trendy things.”

Rahma Assante, head of marketing, research and insights, TikTok APAC, agrees. She says consumers want to be delighted online by experiencing joy, being entertained, and getting a chance to participate. "What we've seen in terms of consumer trends and the way they have evolved is a desire for fun, consumers want to be told a story and want to be entertained and engaged,” says Assante.

"Consumers want more authentic content, and that is as simple as being open to just being yourself. Anybody can be a creator. It is the age of self-expression, and you don't need editing skills or expensive material. You don't need to work on your thumbnail and your keywords - you just need to come as you are, be yourself and post your content on the right platform,” says Assante.

Consumers also expect a level of personalization from brands, according to Bianca Sing, global digital, e-commerce and PR lead for Pond's at Unilever.

“Consumers are smarter these days and they do expect the brands to know them a little better. It’s all about that engaging connection that they create with the platform or the brand.”

Fun, along with any emotional connection, is another big opportunity for marketers, with 40% of e-commerce transactions driven by emotional decision-making, and two in three purchases in emotional-led moments are new-to-brand purchases.

“Emotional needs cannot be fulfilled just by transactional and social commerce – we’re set for a new evolution of commerce,” adds Bharadwaj. The key to that evolution is Shoppertainment.

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What exactly is Shoppertainment?

Shoppertainment is content-driven commerce that seeks to entertain and educate first while combining content, culture and community to create highly immersive shopping experiences.

The opportunity is significant, with an estimated $1tn up for grabs and Shoppertainment set to account for 30% of total e-commerce in APAC by 2025.

However, contrary to popular belief, there is more to Shoppertainment than livestreaming; it refers to all elements of the commerce ecosystem, even driving in-store footfall.

There are five elements to Shoppertainment: 1. It must tell stories and educate; 2. It must be video-first; 3. It should not force decision making; 4. It should recommend the trends; and 5. It must be authentic.

“Content is now at the core of the shopping experience,” says Assante. “We have audiences that are more complex and demanding and more difficult to capture but at the same time, more mature and more savvy in the way that they shop. Shoppertainment is the new evolution of that, being content first and seeking to entertain and educate first.”

How can brands harness Shoppertainment?

As a trusted entertainment platform for more than one billion users, TikTok blends commerce and entertainment and is already a leader in Shoppertainment.

Unilever’s Sing agrees: "We knew as a brand that we needed to be on TikTok, not because it was the trendy platform, but because we knew our consumers are there.”

As TikTok's head of global agency, Karl Cluck points out, “the path to purchase on TikTok is an infinity loop. It is not linear. Users enter, exit and re-enter at different points of the consumer path to purchase.”

An effective method for brands to create authentic Shoppertainment is to work with influencers and content creators who can help ensure an emotional engagement with consumers, says content creator Ian Jeevan.

Jeevan believes there are three ways to create authentic Shoppertainment content on TikTok.

“Number one is format. TikTok’s format is 9x16 so that is the format you need to use for your advantage and ensure the content does not spill out. Number two is using sound. TikTok is a visual and audio sensory app, so you really need to involve sounds to make your video come alive. Number three is trendjacking. Capitalize on trends that are happening around the world, in your country or in your current region and use them to your advantage.”

“As a creator, one thing we love to have is creative freedom. When brands say we trust you, you are the expert, it really makes the process easier. The one-word algorithm works on true engagement. If people are liking, commenting, sharing, that's when your video gets pushed out,” says Jeevan.

Shoppertainment is here to stay

The evolution of consumers expectations combined with the explosion of entertaining content has created a perfect storm for Shoppertainment. As marketers rush to get a piece of the action, it’s crucial they remember the fundamentals of marketing.

Asha Gourinath, lead for digital marketing and CRM, South East Asia at Grab, says, “Brands need to be customer first. They need to understand what their customer’s needs are, what they are consuming and what is relevant and contextual to them.”

Carlos Matriano, head of innovation and e-commerce at PHD agrees: “Brands should focus on a holistic planning approach and look at e-commerce, not just from a conversion aspect but look at the full consumer journey. Start from awareness and priming and bring people down through the funnel. TikTok is great for brand discovery and it’s not just about leading people through sales but hand-holding them through the journey. A lot of the formats that TikTok have created really take that into account and because of that it’s become much easier to entertain and engage consumers through that process.”

Bharadwaj agrees: “Marketers have ignored Shoppertainment for too long. It is here, and it is on the cusp of becoming mainstream. So, rather than thinking of it as something experimental or on the side that you're trying out, think of it as something you can build an entire brand image around. Entertainment is a serious business in this day and age. Consumers are stressed out and looking for entertainment. Taking that seriously as a core part of your portfolio of planning for your brand has a significant potential for your brand.”

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