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Shoppable TV shows are a thing in M’sia now, as part of grocery app JOCOM’s new marketing

[Written in partnership with Supernewsroom, but the editorial team had full control over the content.]

While watching a K-drama, Joshua Sew observed Kopiko being prominently featured as a product placement in several episodes. Not only did the Kopiko scenes make him want to pop the candy in his mouth right away, but they also made him realise that they could tap into this craving as a way to lead users to their platform, JOCOM.

As a mobile commerce (M-Commerce) platform, JOCOM enables micro and SMEs to sell groceries and household products online, as part of its aim to make online grocery shopping accessible to Malaysians and beyond. 

To date, JOCOM delivers nationwide, as well as in countries such as China, Indonesia, and the US. In March 2021, the company listed part of its share capital on 1exchange (1EX), Singapore’s first regulated private securities exchange.

(From left to right) JOCOM’s COO Sharon Goh, founder and CEO Joshua Sew, Chairman Y.M. Tengku Dato’ Dr Hishammuddin Zaizi bin Y.A.M. Tengku Azman Shah Alhaj, co-founder and Managing Director Agnes Chua, CEO and founder of NVF Health & Beauty Nurhidayah Dato’ Hj Badaruddin / Image Credit: JOCOM

With the inspiration to sell products through a TV screen, JOCOM launched a service that lets viewers instantly shop for products they see in a show via its grocery shopping platform. 

Unlikely collaborations

First hearing about this concept, I initially thought it was emulating that scene in Joy where the main character, a small-time entrepreneur, attempted to sell her “Miracle Mop” on a livestream. Audiences who were keen to make a purchase could instantly call up the TV network to make their orders on demand.

Editor’s update: The paragraph above was edited to reflect greater factual accuracy.

In other words, I thought JOCOM would start enabling livestream shopping via its platform while you watch TV.

But boy, was I wrong.

JOCOM calls its TV e-commerce concept “Watch, Scan & Buy”. It utilises QR codes so viewers can instantly and conveniently make purchases based on the products they see on screen. Then, orders will be delivered to their doorsteps.

Calling this concept “shoppertainment”, JOCOM’s team told Vulcan Post that this idea is already being done in countries such as Korea and China. Based on a quick search online, the US does so as well through channels like NBC.

With the cast of MyOfis / Image Credit: JOCOM

“Korean and Chinese dramas have been, and will continue to be very popular in Malaysia, and they have incorporated TV e-commerce with a positive reception,” JOCOM’s team said. 

Collaborating with Longhouse Films, a TV show producer in Malaysia, they created a sitcom to be the frontman of this shoppertainment service. It is available to watch on iQiyi for free, and episodes come out once a week. Currently, two episodes have been aired.

The sitcom entitled MyOfis centres around the challenges of Jasper, the new intern at a marketing agency trying to fulfil his duties as he battles office politics.

When asked about this unlikely partnership between an M-Commerce platform and a production studio, JOCOM said: 

“The Longhouse Films’ founder, Jon Chiew, has 20 years of experience as a producer in China, [so] the production house has been looking for partners in such a unique programme concept that has proven to work well in China and Korea to be introduced to Malaysia.”

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Watching the show, I found it quite clever that the setting of the story is based on a marketing agency, constructing a more genuine way to talk about real-life brands and insert product placements. 

For example, in a scene where Jasper was brainstorming ideas for a new Spritzer water bottle label, a tiny QR code popped up on screen. Not too discreetly, but unbothersome enough at the bottom right corner of my screen so I could make a purchase if I pleased.

However, despite the team’s efforts in making a plot where it makes sense to constantly be talking about products, much like YouTubers interrupting the content to read a word from their sponsors, MyOfis still felt as if I was watching an ad as long as the show’s 20-minute running time.

Every few minutes or so, a new product would be raved about by the characters, which could potentially be a huge turn-off to audiences who share my perspective.

Screencap from the pilot episode of MyOfis

Sharing this perspective with JOCOM’s team, I had to ask about what their expectations are for the viewership of this sitcom. I’m sure much time, effort, and funds have gone into producing a whole TV series to bring the Watch, Scan & Buy concept to life.

“We wanted to try new things to capture a new market share through the swift adoption of this new shoppertainment trend. Converting a moment of desire into an instant purchase, so to speak,” they stated.

The team went on to share that they hope the Watch, Scan & Buy concept appeals to iQiyi’s target audiences. They consist of Malay and Chinese communities, along with internet-savvy audiences who are streaming iQiyi shows.

“From JOCOM’s perspective, we hope that this new foray will positively impact the e-commerce industry and provide viewers with an easy way to purchase Malaysian goods through our JOCOM platform,” they added. 

JOCOM’s team made sure to address that shoppertainment through MyOfis is the first time the company is trying it. “The results may not be much initially, but it has the potential to become significant in the future. With the current K-pop trend, we hope to gain more viewers in the future.”

A poster of MyOfis / Image Credit: JOCOM

On top of using the shoppertainment concept as a way to test the Malaysian market reception, JOCOM is also planning to continuously develop and improve on it. Ideally, they’re expecting a 50% growth in their platform’s e-commerce sales and conversion. 

“If the current venture works, then we will go into Season 2 of MyOfis or run the same methodology and marketing plan for future dramas on iQiyi,” they disclosed.

I don’t have the right knowledge to provide proper, reasonable suggestions for the team to make the shoppertainment concept feel less like an ad. But I can empathise that it is difficult to promote grocery store products that are rather uninteresting.

In a way, I do agree with JOCOM’s team that shoppertainment could be the way forward, what with more streaming sites finding different revenue streams since conventional advertising is not an option.

It would be interesting to explore JOCOM’s findings from their attempt with the Watch, Scan & Buy service carried by MyOfis. Hopefully, the teams can come up with more engaging ways to slide in the product placements in the show, making them exciting to watch.

  • Learn more about JOCOM here.
  • Read other articles about grocery deliveries here.

Featured Image Credit: COO Sharon Goh, founder and CEO Joshua Sew, and Managing Director Agnes Chua of JOCOM

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(UEN 201431998C.)

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