A livestreamer promotes personal hygiene products during Alibaba's annual shopping event on November, 11, 2020. More U.S. tech companies are testing live shopping.
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Photo: A livestreamer promotes personal hygiene products during Alibaba's annual shopping event on November, 11, 2020. More U.S. tech companies are testing live shopping.

Tech companies in the U.S. are testing whether a generation raised on YouTube will embrace a habit more associated with their cable-watching grandparents: live shopping. 

A crop of startups including Popshop Live and Supergreat are offering live-shopping shows hosted by social media creators or others with specific niches. On Popshop, individuals pitch products like clothing or DIY crafts, while Supergreat focuses on beauty influencers demonstrating how to use eye creams and other skincare. 

Facebook recently launched live shopping events on Fridays, where it partners with brands like Abercrombie & Fitch and Sephora to showcase new trends and encourage people to buy something in the moment. Amazon’s livestreaming service Amazon Live and its accompanying app offer a way for influencers to showcase Amazon products.

Live shopping in the U.S. has been overdue for a makeover. In the 1980s, cable programs QVC and HSN took off thanks to infomercial-style programs led by hosts who attracted loyal followings. While older generations embraced it, live shopping “hasn’t reached millennials and Gen Z just yet,” said Lisa Filipelli, a partner at talent management firm Select. 

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