Walmart will host the first shoppable livestream on Twitter as the retailer broadens its efforts to link social content with commerce for the holidays, according to a blog post by U.S. Chief Marketing Officer William White.
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On Nov. 28 at 7 p.m. EST, the brand will broadcast a half-hour variety show led by Jason Derulo and filmed at the musician’s Los Angeles home. Timed for Cyber Week, the festive program promotes product offerings in electronics, home goods, apparel and seasonal décor and will feature surprise guests.
In the announcement, White said that Twitter consistently produces high returns for Walmart content that lands in the top and middle of the sales funnel. The Cyber Week livestream will also be posted on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok, along with a dedicated Walmart Live web page, as the tactic becomes a mainstay in Walmart’s marketing strategy.
Walmart is diversifying its bets around livestreaming and shopping with a Cyber Week special that spans multiple platforms and marks the first time a brand has run such an activation on Twitter in the U.S. The big-box store first dipped its toes in the livestreaming commerce space for the 2020 holiday season with a TikTok shop-along event and has frequently iterated on the concept as consumer habits driven by the pandemic prove sticky even as in-store activity starts to pick back up.
“We believe the future of retail lies in social commerce, which is why we’re focusing on innovating in the space as we continue to offer our customers ways to live better — whether online, or in store, the future of holiday shopping remains bright at Walmart,” CMO White wrote in the blog post.
Since its initial TikTok experiment last December, Walmart has produced 15 livestreamed shopping events across five platforms and partnered with more than 20 creators on those efforts. It was the first brand to leverage livestreaming commerce capabilities on TikTok, YouTube and now Twitter. The Cyber Week play on Twitter will display a Shoppable Banner and Shop Tab on the event page so users can browse without missing out on the content. They can also go to Walmart’s website through an in-app browser to make a purchase without exiting out of the show.
The news serves as an early test of whether Twitter — which does not have as strong a stake in the video space as rivals — can convert its focus on real-time cultural discussions into an engine of commerce. Social media apps broadly have ramped up their shopping bets as they contend with major headwinds to their traditional advertising businesses and respond to accelerated e-commerce adoption under the pandemic. Twitter started piloting a separate Shop Module tab with select brands earlier this year and will make it available to more U.S. merchants in the coming weeks, per a blog post. It is also working on new ways to onboard merchants and help them manage their catalogs through a Twitter Shopping Manager tool.
Chasing an early-mover advantage in social commerce could differentiate Walmart as the retail category targets the next generation of consumers — digital natives who are readily familiar with social media and more comfortable making purchases through devices like smartphones. Young cohorts also tend to put more trust in creators and influencers when making purchasing decisions.
A celebrity-driven livestreaming activation is another signal that retailers are pouring more marketing resources into Cyber Monday and the accompanying Cyber Week window as consumer interest in holiday deals and discounts expands beyond the Black Friday rush on physical stores. The Derulo variety program is just one piece of Walmart’s playbook around the 2021 holidays. The company said it plans to host more than 30 livestreaming events throughout the season with partners spanning BuyWith, BuzzFeed, IGN, TalkShopLive and Tasty.
The ambitious calendar suggests Walmart is confident it can meet holiday demand amid an intense crunch on the supply chain, a factor that has led others in the industry to pull back on their fourth-quarter marketing activity.