When people want to reach the impressionable shoppers of Gen Z and their tantalizing spending potential, the automatic default seems to be: video.
For one, Dote’s brand-new Shopping Party lets girlfriends shop together via livestream video hosted by top young influencers. Then there’s the incoming crop of startups betting on a new retail format in which shoppers can virtually explore physical stores and buy products through the power of live mobile video.
More so than any generation before them, post-millennials are attached to their devices to a degree most of us can’t truly understand. One Adobe study indicates that British Gen Zers spend 10 hours every day interacting with online content, whether that’s reading, watching, creating or somehow engaging with digital information.
Gen Z isn’t watching your ads on TV or even Facebook, for that matter. Teens watch 3.4 hours of video every day, according to a report from Wibbitz, and much of it is streaming through platforms like YouTube, Instagram and Tik Tok where they see the latest content from favorite stars like PewDiePie and Selah Marley, daughter of Lauryn Hill and granddaughter of reggae legend Bob Marley.
Innovators in tech, retail, media and youth culture have taken notice of Gen Z’s new habits and responded in kind with ventures like Dropp.TV, a platform that layers e-commerce onto the content cranked out by its cohort of creators. The company claims to have a patent for See It. Want It. Get it. video technology that uses artificial intelligence to match products displayed in videos with their shoppable counterparts and give creators a means by which to earn money from their content. Dropp’s website says it enables one-click checkout from its retail partners when viewers click or tap on something they like when watching a live or pre-recorded video.
As part of its platform, the company’s Dropp Studios in Englewood, N.J. is home to 5,000 square feet of space where creators can produce their videos in a professional setting complete with grooming facilities and a cyclorama.
Streetwear brand Coogi today announced plans to release a new limited-edition apparel collection exclusively through Dropp Beta this summer via web and apps for smart devices. “As a creative veteran in the fashion industry, it’s rare that you have a ‘once in a lifetime’ moment to evolve the culture and fashion through tech,” said Willie Escobar, creative director for Coogi, which has been worn by the likes of cultural influencers such as Biggie Smalls, Nipsey Hustle and Conner McGregor.
“As we celebrate our 50th anniversary, and embrace the fact that we were the first inclusive luxury brand to embrace streetwear. History will repeat itself as we will be the first to embrace change and evolve fashion via Dropp in 2019,” he added.
Dropp founder and CIO Gurps Rai, noting Coogi’s history of dressing “fly guys in pop culture,” described the partnership as a “huge honor.” “This collaboration is the ideal embodiment of Dropp’s mission statement—to fuel the success of future generations of independent talent,” he said.
Dropp is working to strengthen its partnerships with brands attractive to Gen Z. In addition to his work with Coogi, Escobar will be leveraging his associations with brands including Kith, FUBU, Barneys, Adidas and Samsung as head of brand partnerships for Dropp. The company also brought on board streetwear veteran Jose Rodriguez, whose design portfolio has generated $200 million in sales for brands including Sean John and Rocawear.
Though Dropp touted itself as a blockchain-based next-gen shopping platform when it launched in 2017, today its website contains no references to distributed ledger technology beyond noting that users maintain “complete control over their data” on “a trusted and anonymous [peer-to-peer] marketplace with assurance on product authenticity.”
Similar in concept to Dropp, NTWRK mixes content and commerce into a shoppable video format aimed at hype-conscious young consumers. NTWK, helmed by ComplexCon founder Aaron Levant, drops exclusive merchandise through engaging video content. For the latest release on NTWRK, Chicago rapper and Coachella performer Juice WRLD celebrated his latest album, Death Race for Love, by collaborating with Suzuki on a collection of apparel emblazoned with traditional motorsports graphic treatments, many in on-trend neon colorways.
In an interview with PSFK last fall, Levant spoke to his vision for NTWRK as it gathers steam among young viewers. “They’re intentionally navigating to media companies that talk to them about products they want to purchase, cultural artifacts and things that they enjoy or collect,” he told the retail and innovation-focused company. “I’m taking NTWRK into a space not just in street culture, but across all genres of pop culture. We’re going after the crazy fandom‑obsessed fans who love to collect things that engage with their interests.”