Hot Topic launches livestream shopping

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
Andy Black
Hot Topic’s debut livestream event featured singer Andy Black. (Photo Credit: Hot Topic)

A specialty mall retailer of officially licensed entertainment and music merchandise is joining a hot interactive commerce trend.

Hot Topic Inc. is introducing livestreaming shopping events for its brands Hot Topic, BoxLunch, and Her Universe as part of a series of planned digital-first marketing and merchandising initiatives for 2022. The company will leverage its music and pop culture branding to hold live shopping events featuring guest influencer hosts, exclusive merchandise offerings, and special giveaways.

The Hot Topic banner has already hosted its first “HT Live” livestream shopping event, hosted by vocalist Andy Black of the rock band Black Veil Brides, featuring exclusive merchandise licensed from the upcoming film “The Batman.”

“We are excited to further connect fans with our brands with the launch of live shopping,” said Steve Vranes, CEO, Hot Topic, Inc. “Live shopping is one of several initiatives that will transform our digital shopping experience and build out our community of fans.”

Hot Topic aims for Gen Z shoppers
Livestreamed shopping is among many of the company’s marketing strategies to connect and engage with Gen Z customers across its digital platforms, including the Hot Topic, BoxLunch and Her Universe brands’ social media channels with a combined reach of nearly 13 million followers.

Hot Topic Inc. has relaunched the native Hot Topic app, launched a music-focused channel on Instagram, and established an anime-focused server on the Discord platform. Hot Topic Inc. says its social media influencer community now consists of over 2,000 influencers with 200 million in combined TikTok reach, and will double this year.

Marketing technology conglomerate CM Group has advised that delivering highly engaging messaging, such as personalized videos embedded within a newsletter or a livestream event on TikTok, is much more interesting to Gen Z consumers than to consumers in older generations.

Another Gen Z-focused retailer, Forever 21, is also experimenting with shoppable livestream events. The fast-fashion retailer participated in a live demonstration of the Open4Sale Technology O4S Tech video and payment shopping app in January 2022. During the worldwide debut of the app, Forever 21 connected attendees in Manhattan to a Forever 21 store at the South Coast Plaza luxury shopping center in Costa Mesa, Calif.

The livestream event allowed attendees to watch, interact, discover, and purchase merchandise via the video call. Simultaneously, the app displayed more information on each item as shoppers would typically see on a website. Customers could see goods in real-time, ask questions, select the item and size, and add it to their shopping cart before checking out, in the same window without having to navigate away from the app to see the retailer's website or to pay.

Hot Topic, BoxLunch, and Her Universe are also set to exhibit at 12 in-person fan events during 2022, including D23, Star Wars Celebration, Anime Expo and San Diego Comic-Con. During summer 2022, Hot Topic and Her Universe will host a global retail pop-up in partnership with Studio Ghibli in Tokyo.

Hot Topic Inc. is comprised of three banners: Hot Topic, BoxLunch, and Her Universe. Based in Los Angeles, the company operates a digital commerce platform as well as 800 Hot Topic and BoxLunch stores.

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