The global social commerce market is expected to reach $2.9 trillion by 2026, and B2C brands are poised to make up nearly all of that revenue, according to Research and Markets analysis. As a result, brands and retailers across categories are focused on bolstering their social commerce capabilities.
While many companies have gone the route of traditional vendor partnerships, some brands are bringing social commerce tools in-house via acquisition. For example, DTC skincare and wellness brand Nu Skin recently acquired Mavely, a social commerce platform designed to help creators and affiliates better monetize their communities. In 2020, Nu Skin posted record growth in the Americas and EMEA, largely due to the impact of social commerce via its active brand affiliates, according to Jeff Smith, VP of Global Strategy and Corporate Development for Nu Skin.
With more than 90% of Nu Skin’s revenue flowing through its digital properties, Smith and the leadership team believed doubling down on social commerce and affiliate capabilities would set the brand up for a strong future. “Our sustained growth in the West over a strong 2020 gives us confidence that our strategy is directionally accurate as we focus on expanding our social commerce adoption across other regions,” Smith said in an interview with Retail TouchPoints.
The acquisition will give Nu Skin affiliates access to robust social selling tools and features so they can effectively sell to their communities. “We took a look at the capabilities we had in-house versus where we had gaps,” Smith explained. “In some cases, we want to accelerate the adoption of new technologies and up the pace of innovation. In the case of Mavely, we saw both options [come to fruition] with an acquisition. It complemented the knowledge and expertise of our existing teams while also helping us accelerate the delivery of key feature sets.”
The Mavely management team will continue to operate its business as its own entity within Rhyz, Inc., the strategic investment arm of Nu Skin Enterprises. By continuing to sell its solutions to other brands and businesses, Mavely will be able to “stay at the forefront of mobile social commerce needs and provide best-in-class solutions, features and insight that will be incorporated into the Nu Skin digital tools,” Smith explained. Leadership teams from Nu Skin and Mavely regularly communicate and collaborate to ensure ongoing transfer of knowledge and insights.
Smith shared further details about the acquisition, including how it will impact future strategies and investments for the Nu Skin brand.
Retail TouchPoints (RTP): What role does social media play in Nu Skin’s growth marketing toolkit?
Jeff Smith: Since Nu Skin’s founding, our business has been driven by people-powered commerce through our global network of affiliates, who are micro-influencers. The entire journey, from product discovery through to purchasing, relies on word-of-mouth recommendations, so social media is a powerful tool for amplifying the reach of our hundreds of thousands of affiliates around the world. Our focus has been on providing tools that help our affiliates be more successful, and that includes the acquisition of Mavely.
RTP: What role do you believe these micro-influencers will continue to play in the brand’s content creation and engagement ecosystem?
Smith: Our go-to-market has always been through micro-influencers — even well before social media. They are at the heart of everything we do and will continue to be in the future. With social media, we want to help them expand their reach and engagement to be even more effective at doing what they have always done.
We notice an interesting balance between corporate-generated content and affiliate-driven content. The key here is to be true to brand and consistent with experience while still empowering the affiliates to be authentic and real. We take ideas from our market teams and affiliates on a regular basis about what types of content are most helpful, how to speed up the process for them and what gaps there may be.
RTP: What are some specific technologies that you think will be helpful?
Smith: We are constantly striving to streamline the speed with which our affiliates can share their story and drive a conversion via social. Things like the ability to pull imagery, add their video, embed a link that has attribution tied to it, track sales and purchases, etc. are key tools to help affiliates be as effective as possible.
RTP: Are there any gaps in other social platforms (like Instagram or TikTok) that you knew you needed a more robust solution to support?
Smith: One of the main needs for us is to give our affiliates the flexibility to work across different social platforms, while also giving us the ability to offer new tools for new platforms that may emerge. We wanted to help our hundreds of thousands of micro-influencers be effective and have access to the same tools as larger influencers. Leveraging consistent product information and imagery also has been a key pain point for affiliates, and our new product pages and descriptions provide a consumer-focused voice in terms of the value the products bring.
RTP: What made the team decide that Mavely was the ideal fit for Nu Skin and its affiliates?
Smith: We liked that Mavely was an early-stage technology company and that we could work together on expanding the platform. They also had a leadership team with a successful entrepreneurial track record, and shared our values and belief in the power of individuals in driving commerce.
More specifically, Mavely was created to drive more effective product discovery, social sharing and social commerce. Their digital tools are optimized to benefit both those who are new to social selling and experienced, by helping them more effectively share the products they love. This acquisition will enable us to add new features to our digital tools and leverage Mavely’s development teams to continually enhance our offerings.
RTP: What capabilities do you think will be most valuable to the Nu Skin business moving forward?
Smith: It gives our customers the ability to quickly share products and earn loyalty points as their friends and family purchase products. We see this as a key to customer retention and driving broader brand awareness, as our customers who love our products share their experience on social with friends. But perhaps the most exciting aspect, and potentially a game changer for us, is the way Mavely simplifies and accelerates our affiliate program. With Mavely, affiliates can sign up and start sharing products for a commission in less than five steps, significantly reducing the time it takes for them to create a personalized storefront and share their favorite products.
RTP: How will Mavely be integrated into the Nu Skin brand experience?
Smith: We believe that we’ll be able to leverage the Mavely digital platform to level up the digital experience for our Nu Skin affiliates more quickly. Our digital and technology teams are working closely with Mavely to provide a seamless integration of their technology into the Nu Skin digital tools. These new features are being built into the social commerce features within our apps for consumers and affiliates that will first be available in the U.S. before launching in other markets.