Millennials are a force to be reckoned with, as they are made up of approximately 90 million individuals with significant spending power: By 2030, their aggregate annual income is projected to be more than $4 trillion. And though this market presents brands with a large audience of potential customers, will digitally native millennials tune in to a shopping network?
The mobile game show HQ Live Trivia, already counts up to two million participants per game. After receiving a push notification, users are prompted with 12 questions to answer to vie for a prize. That jackpot can reach $10,000 — or higher.
As mobile game show-like apps such as HQ Live Trivia take hold, mobile shopping game shows such as Gravy are seeking to capture the attention of millennials, with short broadcasts almost every night of the week. Through a hosted online show, Gravy has audiences vying for discounts on new products with the added incentive of cash prizes and charity donations. The idea is turn the experience of discovering new products into entertainment — with a bit of a twist: Each product has a limited quantity that is unknown to the audience, but the price drops as the show goes on. As a result, customers who wait too long to buy an item risk missing out. There is, of course, the game show element in which each player has a chance to win a cash prize by guessing what percentage discount will cause a particular product to sell out.
What to call this experience? Gravy’s CEO Brian Wiegand thinks of it as “QVC meets Price is Right.” With this model, Gravy also differs from other platforms in terms of where the products it promotes are in the life cycle.
“The traditional discounting platforms are more for [the] end-of life product,” Wiegand said. “We’re really on the other end of the funnel, where we’re trying to create a lot of buzz and awareness of a new product.”
In its effort to do so, Gravy doesn’t seek to make money selling the actual goods — it seeks to market the actual stage.
Approximately 75 percent of Gravy’s users are millennials. Since this age group has a short attention span, Gravy seeks to keep the daily show in a concise format. The shows, which come with a live host and a surprise featured product, are only several minutes long. And though it has thought about running more than one deal, it has resisted this temptation to keep the show short — and viewers wanting more.
For brands, Gravy provides an alternative to traditional advertising such as pre-rolls and banners that can’t hold customers’ attention as long as shows like Gravy. Furthermore, this kind of game show advertising is not a distraction or a second thought on a web page.
“It’s not adjacent to the content,” Wiegand said. “It is the content.”
Gravy seeks to use that content to generate buzz. There’s a chat happening live, and Gravy users tweet about the products featured on the show, too. There are also many products that can be a good fit for platforms such as Gravy.
“There’s so many new products being launched every day that are dying to get a millennial’s attention,” Wiegand said, adding that Gravy thinks there are plenty of ad dollars to be spent on capturing the attention of millennials.
The format of shows like Gravy — in which products are only available in limited quantities — raises the question: What happens if a featured product sells out before a customer can make a purchase? After one of its brands requested a feature to give Gravy customers a ‘second chance’ on sold out items, Gravy just rolled out a feature that allows customers to purchase one of the featured products after the show. By tapping a ‘like’ button, customers can get a coupon code or an email with some sort of offer after a sale on Gravy ends. In terms of the popularity of such a feature, Wiegand doesn’t have much feedback as the company just rolled out the feature, but Wiegand has noticed an interesting trend when it comes to supply and demand.
“The data has an interesting curve,” Wiegand said.
At the beginning of a sale, a few people start to buy the product, but then purchasing starts to pick up. When a product on Gravy reaches a certain price point, a product reaches a sort of magic price.
“There’s a point where you can almost sell an unlimited quantity,” Wiegand said.
That data could be valuable to brands and give them a lesson in Goldilocks pricing: It could tell them if a price is too discounted or which price is just right, if they wanted to use that information later in a product’s life.
Payments And Cash Back
While Gravy is an advertising platform, and a brand drop ships to customers on Gravy’s platform, Gravy does provide brands with a customer’s shipping address and handles customer payments. It doesn’t keep any of the proceeds.
“We’re not trying to profit from the sale, but we do handle [payments] on their behalf,” Wiegand said.
However, the platform does send the proceeds to the brand, less any money donated to charity. Currently, Gravy accepts credit cards for payments — and is considering adding Apple Pay in the future. And, for customers who win a cash prize through the game show by guessing what percentage off the product will sell out, Gravy offers the prize as a cash disbursement. As of now, it doesn’t allow them to use those funds toward a future purchase, but the platform is considering offering that functionality in the future.
The Road Ahead
Going forward, Wiegand believes there is enough demand to break Gravy into different themed shows. For example, there could be a fashion, beauty, and a sports and outdoor show.
“They’ll be at different times, different hosts … and the products will be geared [toward] those categories,” Wiegand said.
As of now, the show caters to a wide range of audiences and has a bit of a technology focus.
So how is Gravy different from traditional shopping shows on television such as QVC? Those kinds of shows run many hours each day — instead of within a limited time frame such as Gravy. Additionally, Wiegand said those shows are meant to run in the background while someone moves about their home. Wiegand calls it more of a lean-back experience, while Gravy is more lean-in.
“Millennials aren’t going to operate in more of an ambient lean-back way … that just doesn’t work for today’s generation,” Wiegand said.
The idea is to make the show interesting — and cater shows to specific audiences: Wiegand doesn’t want millennials to simply tune in then tune out.