Shoppable Video and the New Possible: 5 Examples

The use of shoppable videos, the technology that allows viewers to engage directly with contextually relevant product info during video play, is now rapidly expanding, with brands like Target, Roots, Ralph Lauren, EBags and many others rolling out campaigns using the innovative shopping tool.

Advances in online video technology are clearly the primary driver behind the recent shoppable video growth spurt, but another encouraging factor is the growing recognition among marketers that a compelling story—the pulsing heartbeat of a company—is a required element of brand presentation today.

It used to be that brand-oriented video campaigns on television or online were a luxury for bigger budget ad campaigns only. Other companies, when forced to choose between a brand campaign and sale-oriented traffic driver, would often choose the latter simply because the ROI was easier to measure in the short term.

Shoppable video, with its attached or embedded links and direct-from-video purchase opportunities, means that companies can now combine traffic and brand marketing strategies within a single marketing effort. More importantly, with the embedded links adeptly covering the utilitarian merchandising role, video is free to play to its most powerful strength—telling stories and appealing to the emotional connection a product or brand has with its fans. That is exciting news for video marketers, who are seeing the story/traffic combination open up an entirely new field of play for marketers of every size as the technology becomes more widespread.

The Attraction of Shoppable Video

When a customer interacts with a brand today, they’re making immediate decisions about the worth of that interaction, auditioning brands on the spot for a value proposition that relates well to their world. As they browse, a subconscious evaluation is taking place, with the potential customer asking: What is your story? Do you care? And why should I? Positive answer to these questions are the invitations into the busy lives of your potential customers.

On the surface meanwhile, the process is more basic: You have my attention for the next 20 seconds, and I can’t promise you’ll get it again later. Does your product fit my lifestyle? If so, let’s get on with it before I move on to something else.

And that’s where the power of shoppable video lies. Video allows for a more demonstrative explanation of both the story and the urgency of the offer. It is your brand story in real-time, in use, and out in the world where it can live, breathe and make a difference—but now with a purchase link attached.

The Humanization of Brands and the Missoni Example

An important backstory for shoppable video is the ongoing realization that brand story is key to making the most of that short audition period between company and customer. With the growth of social media and other customer empowering tools, the humanization of brands—telling stories and sharing experiences that customers can relate to and feel good about—has become perhaps the most important element of marketing today. As more companies embrace their brand storytelling and desire to directly engage their fans, so grows the use of online video.

Shoppable video is “the perfect aperture” for discovery of something new, according to Dennis Ryan, Chief Creative Officer of the Minneapolis-based interactive agency, Olson. Additionally, shoppable video puts customers in a more active role, providing easy engagement portals to get the information they want. “That’s actually the part that’s most exciting,” Ryan said. “You start making these things more fluid, where the user experience becomes more immediate and more drivable by the end user. That’s really where the medium is going and where all the fun is.”

Ryan and his team at Olson are a big part of the fun behind the shoppable video used in Target’s high profile campaign this month introducing its limited edition line from Missoni, the Italian luxury knitweater designer.

To see the limited-time campaign, go to the Shop by Scene section of the Target Missoni website.

The Missoni debut at Target made a huge media splash this week for creating a Black Friday-like shopping frenzy, drawing a sea of shoppers to its stores and online—so many, in fact, that it crashed the retailer’s Web site for a few hours this week.

The Target-Missoni shoppable videos feature Margherita Missoni, the granddaughter of Missoni founders, Ottavio and Rosita Missoni, and daughter of current creative director, Angela Misson in various scenes distinctly reminiscent of 1960s Italy. “In the ’50s and ’60s, the Missoni brand really developed a voice that transported it out of Italy and into the United States,” said Will Setliff, the vice president for marketing at Target in an interview with the New York Times, “and that is what the aesthetic is inspired by in the campaign.”

According to Ryan, the measurability and immediacy of shoppable video has also contributed to its fast adoption rate—and helped uncover video’s storytelling power for those who may have been holding back. “Intellectually it’s an easy thing for our clients to understand and see the value in. For a long time in our business, we’ve remarked about how rare it is to have a client that really wants to engage in the inspirational story behind the brand. But we’re finally starting to see that now. More and more clients are realizing that an investment in the creative ideas and story behind a brand is important. We’re getting there.”

More Shoppable Video Examples

Ralph Lauren, The RL Gang
One of the biggest trends in books today is the growth of interactive ebooks and apps for children, an idea Ralph Lauren has tapped into with its storybook series, The RL Gang. But the RL Gang isn’t a typical story, it’s also a completely shoppable live-action video storybook featuring Ralph Lauren childrenswear and narrated by the likes of Harry Connick, Jr., Uma Thurman, and John Legend. The RL Gang features a collection of adorable kids dressed in Ralph Lauren clothes against a lushly animated backdrop, where you can click to buy any of the kids’ clothing featured in the book. Taking the storybook idea to its logical next level, fans can also buy a print version of the book at their local Barnes & Noble store.

Ebags has implemented a shoppable video technique using Liveclicker’s video commerce platform that surfaces items in display adjacent to the video, using the videos from it’s various brand partners, allowing for simultaneous storytelling and shopping. In this example, North Face athlete Jimmy Chin describes the indestructibility of the North Face base camp duffel.

The latest Gucci catalog comes to life with the fashion brand’s first shoppable videos where the video timeline displays items that appear in the video in the right hand column with more information, allowing those seduced by camera lens to scroll and purchase.

Kmart, Madres y Comadres
Kmart has been been experimenting with shoppable video with the launch of Madres y Comadres, an eight-part original Spanish-language miniseries focused on two Hispanic mothers and the unique challenges they face raising a family in America while also remaining true to their Hispanic identity. The Madres y Comadres (literally translasted as “Mothers and Close Friends”) webisodes are styled to resemble a mock ‘telenovela’ while using humor and emotion to tap into the challenges Hispanic women and their families face today. Kmart recently launched a Madres y Comadres YouTube channel as the hub for the series.

While YouTube will serve as the host channel for all video content, Kmart has also created a dedicated Twitter account @MadresyComadres and Facebook page, consistent with the multiple platforms where Hispanic usage is outpacing other audience segments.


For marketers, this is just the beginning of how online video, text, social media and other forms of interactive content will come together. “We’re just scratching the surface on where this goes,” said Olson’s Ryan.

“It’s one of those things where you need to experience it first, to create one and see the results, that’s the best way to get clients interested in it. They have to get over the unfamiliarity of the medium, even more than the medium, the social change that this signals. If they can get over that, then Katie bar the door, we’re off and running.”