Meta unit touts hybrid shopping experience

Meta unit touts hybrid shopping experience

Latest video, AR tech should be utilised

Ms Prae said Facebook Thailand would continue to invest in artificial intelligence (AI), mainly in the area of recommendation AI infrastructure.
Ms Prae said Facebook Thailand would continue to invest in artificial intelligence (AI), mainly in the area of recommendation AI infrastructure.

Facebook Thailand advises brands to leverage new technologies in augmented reality (AR) and video to provide consumers with a hybrid shopping experience, according to Prae Dumrongmongcolgul, country director at Facebook Thailand.

Ms Prae cited Meta Foresight's 2023 Culture Rising report, which analyses the preferences and expectations of younger shoppers categorised as millennials or Generation Z (Gen Z), described as "global early adopters". The respondents included Thais.

The survey found that 91% of Thai respondents in the Gen Z category use Facebook to consume media content, with 85% of them using Messenger and 83% using Instagram every month.

"Connections and discovery are core to what makes our apps unique and valuable to communities, and this is especially the case with Gen Z," said Ms Prae.

With consumers gravitating towards more experience-driven journeys, consumers in the Gen Z category are seeking a sense of offline normalcy while retaining the convenience of digital retail through hybrid shopping behaviours that require touchpoints online, in-store, and on their smartphones, according to Meta.

Meta said that while 46% of Gen Z consumers' final purchases take place in-store, online plays a major role in driving discovery and product demand, with 88% doing research on a product online before going to a physical store and 80% using online platforms to research a product while physically browsing products in-store.

Furthermore, the in-store experience remains crucial for brands, with 65% of Gen Z consumers wanting to use AR features in-store to unlock new shopping experiences such as virtually trying on products.

Meanwhile, 68% are interested in conducting visual searches, using their smartphone camera to find out more information about products.

New technologies like AR and video are becoming fundamental parts of the shopping experience for consumers, with short-form videos becoming central to Gen Z consumers' discovery and evaluation processes as consumption grows.

This reflects the increasing blend of virtual and physical worlds post-pandemic, with 88% of Gen Z respondents saying smartphones are their most important devices and that they are 1.2 times more likely than other generations to purchase a product on their smartphone while researching in-store.

Meta emphasised that Thai businesses must empower discovery for Gen Z via a shopping experience that leverages new technologies such as AR and creating personable but contactless transactions that build and retain customer loyalty.

The study found that Thai consumers -- particularly those in the Gen Z grouping -- rely on digital channels for their shopping, so they conduct their interactions with businesses online. Social media plays a key role for Gen Z in their shopping journeys, with 71% of this generation using Facebook for inspiration and product discovery, and 59% finding products to purchase on the platform.

The insights emphasised that Thai businesses must use the channels where they are (Facebook, Instagram and Messenger) to connect and build long-term relationships with Gen Z consumers -- and must truly understand their needs to create loyalty.

Ms Prae said Facebook Thailand's local business direction and priorities this year are in line with its parent's global policies. The firm will continue to invest in artificial intelligence (AI), mainly in terms of recommendation AI infrastructure.

Meta's chief executive Mark Zuckerberg also announced the integration of generative AI into the company's services -- mainly in the form of a smart generative AI customer chatbot.

Meanwhile, it is also focusing on its short video "Reels" feature, which is available on both Facebook and Instagram.

It is also improving the infrastructure for supporting its advertising system as well as supporting businesses of all sizes to find new customers and build their brands.

Ms Prae said there are around 65 million Facebook users in Thailand at present, covering a diverse range of ages.

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