The First "YouTique"?

File under: "What took so long?" YouTube and commerce are intersecting in a novel way with the recent launch, at the end of September, of French Connection's "YouTique." The FCUK YouTube channel, now designed as "YouTube Boutique," makes clever use of YouTube's pop-up buttons by letting viewers buy items with just a few clicks.

Though the pop-ups traditionally only link to other YouTube videos, FCUK has made an arrangement with YouTube to allow certain buttons to lead directly to the FCUK site. After FCUK's stylist Louise Roe makes a case for buying a sequined top or a gold-tone pendant necklace, the video presents a model who stands and sways for several seconds wearing the outfit in question. Her different items of clothing become annotated with a "buy" button that the viewer can click to be taken directly to the FCUK page selling the item in question.

This is a simple trick, but potentially a powerful one. Video advertising is wonderfully effective at creating consumer lust in the moment of the video pitch—but that so often wanes as soon as the spot is over. By enabling the viewer to click and buy in the very moment of the sales pitch, FCUK could have powerful results. Since most of the videos are designed to answer basic questions someone might enter into a search engine—what should I wear to a wedding? what should I wear to go out?—the site is also optimized for search engines.

The site was created by the digital agency Poke. "As a combined client / agency team," writes Poke on its site, "we worked alongside YouTube to become the first brand in Europe to use out-linking annotations in video, providing contextual links to purchase product from the website without interrupting the user experience." According to New Media Age, FCUK is the first British band to experiment in this manner with YouTube's annotations, but apparently U.S. brands—including Toyota and Old Spice—have experimented with it before. We've reached out to YouTube, FCUK, and Poke to learn more about how this deal was made and what it might mean for the future of brands on YouTube, and we'll update when we hear back.

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    The launch of French Connection UK’s (FCUK) v-commerce offering “YouTique” represents a very powerful opportunity for luxury retailers to mass-broadcast style-guide thought leadership and further strengthen loyalists’ affinity for brands. What is particularly compelling about this approach (although not currently leveraged by FCUK) is the MOBILE commerce implication. Experience has shown us the inherent value of video content over long-form text from the perspective of a powerful mobile use case. Through the production of this editorial style guide content that focuses less on particular pieces in an apparel brand’s collection and gives more emphasis on how best to apply the pieces to everyday events, FCUK’s “YouTique” offering provides utility, entertainment, and education as key drivers of increased brand loyalty.

    For a heavily lifestyle-driven brand like FCUK, the “YouTique” offering accomplishes the goal of providing utility to its brand fanatics while remaining true to the essence of their brand. To embed this type utility with the framework of a robust mobile rich application is a goal all luxury apparel brands should aspire to deliver for these fanatics to further increase brand loyalty. What is lost, however, is the fact that this offering represents a tremendous rich application solution for mobile customers. The deep level of engagement garnered by the brand further increases their position as style guide experts for their legion of loyalists, with over 375,000 total upload views since its launch in April. I expect to see this concept trend considerably upward, especially given the ubiquity of YouTube as a broadcast medium to bring style guide and lookbook content to life, with full transactional capability.

    for my thoughts ...

  • Elizabeth

    I hope that this will be the future of online-shopping. No more static product images.

    Imagine TV shows online where you can click to buy what the characters are wearing/eating/drinking/driving/texting on.

    The good thing about this is that clicking the link to "buy" from the video will lead directly to an actual buy page, presumably where you can then literally put the item in your shopping cart, as opposed to some brand landing page where you're supposed to "interact" and watch more videos like I imagine the Old Spice and Toyota campaigns did.

  • Dan Fonseca

    Hey Elizabeth,

    This IS the future of online-shopping. Videos, like the ones you often see on YouTube, with the pop-up buttons will soon become common place. That "extra" layer in the experience will be filled with dynamic, analytical, and supplemental information and data. Even more information packed into the already explosive nature of video. I am incredibly excited! As a guy myself, I need all the help I can get when it comes to shopping!