A new contender for social commerce: Lemon8

By Laura Marsden

June 14, 2023

3 mins read


A new contender for social commerce: Lemon8

By Laura Marsden

June 14, 2023

3 mins read


By blending the best of social media and e-commerce, social commerce is spearheading a revolution in the world of direct-to-consumer shopping. This seamless integration combines discovery, connection, and purchase, and puts shopping at the heart of consumers’ everyday social lives, to make finding the right products that much easier and enjoyable for consumers. For brands, this means the opportunity for stronger and more consistent relationships with their consumers. Reasons why a TikTok live shopping event is said to be bringing in more sales in a week than at a flagship store and the market is expected to reach $2.9 trillion by 2026 (Statista, 2023). 

 

Although social commerce-specific platforms have entered the market, particularly in Asia, the leading social media platforms have yet to be knocked off their pedestals and remain the leaders of social commerce in the West with their offerings. Businesses on Facebook can set up a Facebook Shop, on Instagram brands can tag products in their posts and stories and link them to an Instagram Shop, Pinterest Shop makes products shoppable on the platform, Snapchat uses AR lenses that link to products and TikTok Shop now let’s brands display and sell directly on the platform. 

 

But there is now a new contender and one you likely won’t have heard of yet, Lemon8.

 

Lemon8 is ByteDance’s (TikTok’s parent company) newest app and is described as a community lifestyle app that helps users discover and share food, beauty, wellness, and travel content. Unlike the latest trend in social media for video, the app prioritises static, filtered images, and encourages users to post long, blog-like comments. Reasons why it’s been compared to a combination of Instagram in its early days and Pinterest, and for those in Asia, a close resemblance of the platform Xiaohongshu (or Little Red Book in English). Although categorised as a social media app, it lacks any social aspects, being focussed towards content creators – a focus which it is happy to embrace with a vision “to build the most inspiring and informative platform to discover, share, and bring ideas to life” (according to the NY Times). Although Lemon8 has only recently been launched in the US in March this year, it has been live in Asian markets since 2020.

 

Unlike the other leading Western social commerce platforms, what makes Lemon8 different and interesting is that it has been optimised for a shopping and influencer landscape from launch. Curiously, however, creators cannot yet directly tag items or add shopping links to content on Lemon8. Instead, they are reliant on promoting products through overlaid photos with text and blog-like comments to explain where to buy the featured items and why they’re recommending them. But despite this, those who have used the platform still say it feels highly shoppable. 

 

The platform has already amassed a relatively strong following in Asia, with roughly 7.4 million downloads in Thailand and 5 million downloads in Japan. But while it made an initial splash in the US with its launch, achieving a top ten ranking in the app store in March and just over 1 million downloads, its growth has yet to be explosive. It’s also difficult to gauge influencer engagement, as some influencers have been paid to join and post (identified with the hashtag Lemon8partner); a very different strategy to Instagram’s and Pinterest’s organic growth. And so far, the platform has generally only attracted micro-influencers (influencers with audiences in the tens of thousands or less on other platforms).

 

One potential reason for the lack of engagement is that it’s unclear how creators can monetise their content on the app. However, recent job postings by Lemon8 indicate that they may soon be creating ways for creators too monetise, with a job vacancy for a “monetisation product operations” role in Bangkok. Another major consideration for influencers thinking of investing their resources in Lemon8 is the US government’s proposed legislation that would essentially ban Chinese social media sites in the US due to national security concerns.

 

So, what does this mean for brands? 

 

Lemon8 currently doesn’t support ads or have integrated shopping functionality, meaning that brands that would want an early presence on the app would need to partner with influencers to promote their goods. But many brands may choose to hold off investing in the platform due to the platform’s infancy, current lack of engagement and its potential political issues. However, this hesitancy could mean a missed opportunity to shape a new direct-to-consumer platform as it is adopted, and with TikTok as a sister brand, it is definitely a social commerce platform to watch.

 

 How Manifesto can help?

 

Manifesto are experts in identifying and implementing new business models that will drive consumer lifetime value through proposition design, experience optimisation and driving value from data. We have worked with a number of leading businesses across the CPG sector and have a proven track record of accelerating ongoing enterprise-wide change. Contact us to find out more.  


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