Instagram’s new feature promotes the latest “Drops" (aka new releases), from the hottest retailers and designers. Users can access the latest drops from brands like Bleacher Report, Adidas, Fenty Skin, as well as buy new products straight from the app, instead of being redirected to a separate site. 

IG Drops phone

 

The platform is no longer just an app where consumers can discover new products. With the help of the “Drops” feature, Instagram aims to become a leading social commerce app.

 

How does the new feature work for brands?

When an Instagram user opens the “Drops”  tab, they’ll see a feed of product videos and images. Some drops are live, allowing the user to click and shop for that product or collection. 

App users can also discover drops that will soon be available, these particular products display a ‘drop countdown’. For upcoming drops, customers can set a notification, and receive a reminder on the release date. Furthermore, customers can share “Drops” with their social media friends, using direct messaging and increasing the possibility for brands to achieve content and product referrals.


Why is this new feature relevant for brands?

Over the last few years, online shopping has become incredibly popular, giving rise to the term “social commerce”, and to the evolution of the traditional “E-commerce”, as many consumers prefer the convenience of purchasing products online. 

E-commerce growth has also skyrocketed due to the effects of the pandemic. According to eMarketer, “The number of US social commerce buyers accelerated from 25.2% to 80.1 million in 2020 and will grow another 12.9% to 90.4 million by the end of 2021”. 

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Social commerce allows brands to reach a high number of consumers, it allows customers to browse, purchase and pay for products, without exiting their social media app. By offering streamlined shopping experiences, brands can remain competitive in the eCommerce market, and enhance customer journeys with new experiences within the platforms.

Many businesses are still financially recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, to support brands during these trying times Instagram has waived the fees of the Instagram checkout process. For small businesses on a tighter budget, selling products on Instagram is now more accessible.

The newly released products featured on Instagram “Drops” are usually in limited supply, and available for a short time. The exclusivity and sense of urgency will help to drive demand and attention to brands. This is an opportunity to get creative on brand content development in collaboration with influencers and content creators, to differentiate among competitors in this new tab.


Which brands are already using the “Drops” feature?

A number of high-profile brands are already using the “Drops” feature. Examples include fast food retailer Mcdonalds, Lawless, a US-based clean-makeup brand, and the Cardinal Stock collection from Drake x Nike NOCTA. Drake’s collection features a range of hoodies, T-shirts, and caps. Other offerings include a hand-painted summer clothing collection, by Wren + Glory. 

In Dec 2020, McDonald's Taiwan collaborated with Apujan, a famous fashion designer, creating limited edition “jet-black burgers”, with super stylish packaging. When the product was promoted on the Instagram “Drops” feature, it sold out in a number of seconds. By working with a high-profile fashion designer, and using the “Drops” feature, Mcdonalds were able to reach new audiences, and create an immediate buzz around their new product. Working with influencers allows brands to drive demand and offer exclusive new products.


Instagram drop from McDonalds and Apujan

Source: Instagram


How can brands access this new feature?

As it stands, “Drops” is an exclusive feature that’s only available for select brands.

Only companies and consumers based in the USA can access “Drops”. However, it’s likely to be more widely available at a later date across other markets. While many brands cannot use the “Drops” feature yet, they can use Instagram to sell products and enhance the journey and brand content experience through the lenses of content creators, to generate the anticipation and excitement of new releases in the meantime.

The “Drops” feature was launched at the end of May this year, showcasing an initial five drops. According to TechCrunch, “This number will vary from week to week as Instagram continues to test the new feature”.


How can brands Increase social commerce sales?

To increase social commerce sales brands need to improve their user targeting and quickly be able to transition from awareness to consideration within the platform. 

For this, businesses should perform detailed target audience research, identifying those influencers that have cultivated a strong relationship and trust with the target audience. And then, in collaboration with them, create innovative content experiences that will further develop the brand, influencer and right audience connection. 

Paying close attention to the quality of engagement, and sentiment generated by content creators with their audience is today more relevant than the number of followers they have. This will allow brands to empower their social commerce strategy, and transition with more accuracy from awareness to consideration within the app.

Staying ahead of the game is a must, and even though the “Drops” feature is not yet available for all markets, brands can partner with influencers to build the excitement and exclusivity experience. This will come through to users in a more authentic way, humanizing the brand.

Forbes advises brands to focus on their content and digital marketing, explaining that, “Posts, feeds, comments, chatbots, videos, forums or other means, can prompt social commerce”. Content creators should aim to drive awareness and focus on engaging users. Businesses can use influencer marketing and  interactive video content to boost social channel sales.


How can brands make the best of the “Drops” feature?

Brands can enhance the “Drops” feature with the help of influencer marketing. According to the Digital Marketing Institute (DMI), “49% of consumers depend on influencer recommendations”. To make the best use of the “Drops”  feature, brands need to team up with the right influencers.

These creators can design creative content to promote drops, encouraging their loyal followers to check out these exclusive products.

DMI data also discovered that “40% of customers use ad-blocking technology”. Statistics like these demonstrate why influencer marketing has become such an effective and widely used alternative to traditional ads. The “Drops” feature is useful to help brands to increase product demand. Influencers can accelerate that demand, and boost the sales of new products. Furthermore, with features like “Drops”, influencers have more options to create fresh content that engages their followers.

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Key Takeaways and Recommendations

  • “Drops” feature today, is limited to showcase the upcoming exclusive releases from high-profile retailers and designers.
  • While brands outside the US cannot yet use the “Drops” feature, it’s likely to be accessible in the near future.
  • Brands can use this new feature to build hype around new products and drive demand.
  • To boost social commerce, brands need to improve their audience targeting, and use the right social platforms.
  • Brands should work with the right team of talented content creators and digital marketers, to increase social commerce.
  • To make the best use of the “Drops” feature, brands should work with Influencer marketing, to promote product drops and generate a buzz about the product in an authentic and innovative way.