How YouTube is redefining the online shopping experience

Wallet and Credit Card on computer screen, which represents YouTube's process.

Sponsored by Google

Amy Lanzi, North America practice lead, Publicis Commerce

Finding surprising products in a brick-and-mortar store is, or used to be, a common experience: that magical shopping moment when the customer stumbles across something new that fits their needs perfectly. In 2021, however, it happens in the world’s biggest video storefront — YouTube.

The idea that e-commerce would evolve 10 years in six months started spreading during the pandemic. And while variations of that statement circulated around the industry, the concept is proving to be true: In 2020 alone, e-commerce grew nearly 30% worldwide. (eMarketer, Dec. 2020)

This summer, Publicis Groupe partnered with YouTube and Talk Shoppe to understand how the shopping journey has changed, and how brands can help enhance and expand people’s experiences online. The following sections highlight what the teams at the two companies discovered.

YouTube inspires throughout the shopping journey

Seventy-five percent of shoppers agree that YouTube enhances the traditional shopping journey by delivering unexpected inspiration. (Google/Talk Shoppe, U.S., Shopping at the Speed of Culture 2021 study, n=2,000 A18–64 gen. pop. video users, Aug. 2021) 

This is because people have a discovery mindset when they’re watching video — and because there’s so much content out there for them to discover. Due to the personalized experience of YouTube, they’re not finding noise, but things that make their experiences and their lives better. For example, average daily uploads of videos with “shop with me” in the title increased by over 60%, year over year. (YouTube Data, Global, Aug 31, 2019–Aug. 30, 2021)

YouTube is the matchmaker shoppers and brands have always wanted, reshaping expectations around when a new shopping journey will begin. Importantly, the platform’s proclivity for inspiration results in bigger shopping carts and upsells. 

In fact, 87% say when shopping or browsing on YouTube, they feel like they can make a decision to purchase or not purchase faster. (Google/Talk Shoppe, U.S., Shopping at the Speed of Culture 2021 study, n=2,000 A18–64 gen. pop. video users, Aug. 2021) 

Shoppers trust creators and feel confident in creator-inspired purchases

When quality information is paired with authenticity, shoppers make more confident decisions quicker, instead of leaving items in their cart while they weigh their options.

Creators are the heart and soul of YouTube and the most tailored, personalized, shopping confidant someone could have. They are hybrids of a personal assistant and best friend. Social proof is powerful, and 89% agree that YouTube creators give them the best information about products and brands — the same amount say YouTube recommendations are recommendations they can trust. (Google/Talk Shoppe, U.S., Shopping at the Speed of Culture 2021 study, n=2,000 A18–64 gen. pop. video users, Aug. 2021)

Shoppers value information quality over production quality

Not everyone follows YouTube creators, but they can still find help on YouTube along their shopping journey. For these people, creator content is incredibly valuable, because the breadth, depth and searchability means shoppers can find high-quality information. It’s similar to reviews or star ratings on marketplaces. YouTube is a one-stop shop for the curious consumer.

For example, thrifting-haul videos, a subset of the ever-popular haul format, in which creators share purchases that they’ve made, have been viewed over 100 million times.

What’s also interesting is that YouTube’s appeal works in ways with which brands can sometimes feel uncomfortable: It’s all creator-driven, vast, and not always easy to wrap our minds around. However, research has repeatedly shown us that the quality of information matters more to shoppers than production quality. Again, 89% say when shopping or browsing on YouTube, they feel like they get the highest quality information about products.

Each of these examples represent opportunities for brands to grow through partnering with creators; opportunities for platforms like YouTube to evolve and meet shopper needs; and opportunities to connect in new ways. Online shopping is a whole new ballgame. And brands and advertisers need to adapt in this new world if they want to win big.

A version of this article originally appeared on Think with Google

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