Tech Bytes from Retail & Tech No 25

The latest tech news to inform and inspire


  • Reining in Big Tech. Will Facebook be broken up? The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) sued Facebook last week alleging that the company is illegally monopolizing the social networking industry. The agency is looking to force Facebook to sell its assets, including Instagram and WhatsApp. The FTC claims that Facebook’s alleged monopoly means consumers have few choices for personal social networking and that it deprives advertisers of the benefits of competition. However, Facebook is challenging the complaint saying that it faces plenty of healthy competition from other companies, such as Apple, Google, Twitter, Snap, Amazon, TikTok and Microsoft. The EU also threatened to break up Big Tech companies if they engage in anti-competitive behavior – Brussels just published drafts of new tech regulations aimed at curbing unfair competition.

    Meanwhile, in China, the government continues to rein in the country’s Big Tech players. The government moved to stop Alibaba affiliate Ant Financial’s IPO last month, imposed new rules on livestreaming and just this week said it would fine Alibaba for failing to report acquisitions it made several years ago.


  • Social selling. Another recent sign that social selling is set to be big was L’Oréal’s acquisition of a minority stake in social-selling platform Replika Software. Replika Software claims to enable brands to activate at scale their network of social sellers to sell online, inspire on social media and connect with consumers. L’Oréal’s chief digital officer Lubomira Rochet said that the group is looking to crack this new form of e-commerce that enables consumers, influencers, experts, beauty or shop assistants to sell brands on social platforms through live shopping or livestreaming. E-commerce currently represents 25% of L’Oréal’s revenues, a figure it sees growing to 50% in the near future.


  • Beauty moves to Triller. More beauty brands are experimenting with social-media platform Triller. Last week L’Oréal-owned Nyx Cosmetics launched an AR shopping experience on Snapchat and Triller. Nyx says it is the first beauty brand to launch AR shopping on the two platforms, which uses Snap’s Camera Kit to make the experience available in Triller’s mobile app. The virtual store, described as an immersive and entertaining shopping experience, includes virtual try-on, games, product information for the brand’s spring 2021 collection and options to purchase, leading users to the Nyx website. Meanwhile, US beauty company e.l.f. Cosmetics launched a five-track holiday album on Triller last week, accompanied by mini music videos featuring popular influencers.

    Triller was founded in 2015 and is an AI-powered music video app that allows users to make videos with various songs. The platform competes directly with social-media platform TikTok.


  • Sticking with Instagram. More than half of all businesses (60%) plan to increase their Instagram budget and almost half are planning to do the same for Facebook (46%), YouTube (45%), and LinkedIn (44%), according to social-media management platform Hootsuite’s Social Trends 2021 report. For all the hype around TikTok, only 14% plan to invest in the social-media platform. Among social-media platforms, Facebook (78%) is considered the most effective for reaching business goals, followed by Instagram (70%), LinkedIn (42%) and Twitter (33%). Instagram added the greatest number of new users between July and September, posting higher growth figures than Facebook, says Hootsuite. Instagram’s advertising reach grew by 7.1% in the most recent quarter—more than three times Facebook at 2.2%. With overall marketing budgets trimmed in 2021, Hootsuite says it is no surprise that marketers are focusing on familiar favorites, rather than experimenting with newer tactics and platforms. Respondents indicated that acquiring new customers (73%) and increasing brand awareness (64%) are higher up on the priority list when it comes to social media than improving the customer experience (23%) or improving customer insights (15%).

    On average 32% of key demographics (Gen Z, Millennials, Gen X and Boomers) say “finding funny or entertaining content” is their main reason for using social media. Additionally, data from market-research company Morning Consult shows that useful and entertaining ads are most likely to drive purchases. However, 68% of people said they do not think brands or companies share interesting content on social media, according to market-research company Forrester. More personalized and one-on-one content may be the key to engaging with social-media users. For example, after stores were forced to temporarily close amid the pandemic, French brand Clarins quickly replicated in-store interactions with Instagram Stories posts by Clarins beauty coach Rebecca Jones. Results were immediate with story completion rates jumping from a previous average of 20% to 75%, the highest the Clarins team had seen on social channels.


  • WhatsApp shopping. Facebook has launched a new feature for WhatsApp aimed at making buying and selling on the messaging platform easier. Called Carts, it allows shoppers to select multiple products and send the order as one message to a merchant, as opposed to making multiple orders for several products. Facebook says the feature enhances the WhatsApp-based shopping experience for customers, while making it easier for businesses to keep track of order inquiries, manage customer requests and close sales. Users can browse through a merchant’s WhatsApp catalogue, tap add to cart and, once the cart is complete, send the order as a message to the business. Facebook has ramped up its WhatsApp shopping services this year. The tech giant notes that more than 175 million people message a WhatsApp business account every day, and that consumers prefer to message a business to get help and are more likely to make a purchase when they can do so.


  • Nyx and L’Oréal top TikTok hashtags. Nyx Cosmetics (L’Oréal) and L’Oréal Paris ranked among the most popular hashtag challenges on social-media platform TikTok this year, according to TikTok’s year in review, a roundup of trends on the platform. The most popular hashtag challenges were those that encouraged users to post their own versions of the challenge. Nyx Cosmetics’ #ButterGlossPop saw users apply their favorite Nyx Butter Gloss lip gloss, while L’Oréal’s #LetsFaceIt aimed to destigmatize mask-wearing by encouraging users to post videos showing off what they can do while wearing a mask. As of December 11, the Nyx hashtag had 11.1 billion views and L’Oréal hashtag had 16.7 billion views.