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The Influence of Reality TV on Fashion Shopping Habits

Britons just can’t resist the draw of reality television, with nearly 4 in 10 of us tuning in to some form of reality programme. Be it socialites wining and dining in Alderley Edge, ex-partners flirting on a beach or the next biggest talent seeking to impress Simon Cowell, we’re hooked. Over the past month, Love Island has hit the headlines as nearly 5.4 million of us have tuned in. Whether the appeal lies in the show’s ability to broadcast x-rated content around 9pm every weekday, or the need to know just what Montanna and Chris are wearing next, one thing’s for certain: Love Island has caught marketers in a hot summer romance.

Love Island’s Commercial Fling

In a nation of second-screeners, 16% of people who access the internet whilst watching TV use it in relation to the programme they’re viewing. It doesn’t matter if it’s Love Island or a more modest daytime show such as Lorraine or This Morning, it’s clear that what’s broadcast on our television screens has a significant impact on our buying habits. This is because Love Island contestants involuntarily act as celebrity endorsers, and this influence is enough to whet the appetite of the average consumer. Where can I buy that bikini Amber wore? What about the dress Olivia was wearing, or Georgia’s top? In-line with the show’s broadcast on ITV2, and the posts that appear on a dedicated fashion Instagram account, Google searches for terms related to these question spiked, further underlining the link.   

Reality TV Influence on Fashion Shopping Habits | mporium   

To use a specific example, episode 37 of Love Island, which hit television screens across the country on Monday 17th July at 9pm, resulted in a surge of searches for “ASOS dress” around the time of the broadcast, along with a small spike in searches for ‘patchwork dress’, which one of the contestants happened to be wearing that night.

Reality TV Influence on Fashion Shopping Habits | mporium

This ‘see now, buy now’ mentality has been fuelled by the growing trend in multi-screening. With more users than ever enjoying television with their smart device in their hand, it’s easier than ever to quickly look up a fashion item as it’s broadcast.

mporium IMPACT research

mporium IMPACT technology enables brands to trigger real-time reactions to external, consumer stimuli in the moments they happen. This may mean, for example, that when the patchwork dress appeared on Love Island and began racking up searches, a retailer who offers a similar product could have automatically increased its paid ad spend in that moment, ensuring that it, and its product, appeared at the top of SERPs and won the attention (and clicks) of those searching.

Looking beyond reality TV and towards other programmes aimed at a similar audience, mporium set to work conducting original research to demonstrate the significant effect television has on the consumer purchase journey. Analysing two pieces of content (a fashion segment on Lorraine with Mark Hayes and a fashion segment on This Morning), mporium was able to uncover a clear relationship between Google search trends and a particular trigger phrase that appeared on these segments:  

Reality TV Influence on Fashion Shopping Habits | mporium

On Lorraine, the phrase “this dress here. Quick change, well done. Looks expensive” coincided with a significant spike in searches for “lace dress.” A similar example occurred on This Morning, with the phrase “this is a killer of a dress from COS…It works beautifully. It was £95, now £39” triggering a spike of searches for “cheap dress.”

Reality TV Influence on Fashion Shopping Habits | mporium

The Opportunity for Brands

As the research demonstrates, there’s a very close relationship between television and searches. Fashionable items given the limelight on reality TV in particular almost instantly become desirable to consumers, who will then turn to smart devices to learn where to purchase the item or an item that’s similar. The ad breaks for reality TV shows are littered with major fashion marketers, including Pretty Little Thing, Boohoo, British Style Collective and Swimwear 365, meaning brands must seek alternative methods to push their products to the public.

With in-programme searches on the rise, brands can turn to reactive paid advertisements to serve consumers exactly what they’re looking for, at the right time – not just during the adverts – and capture those searches. Responding to external stimuli as and when it happens can help protect ad-spend too, only increasing paid ad budgets as and when it’s important. Shoppers were searching for Love Island dresses at 10pm on the 17th of July more so than ever, so why not serve an ad with your product when it’s the height of their purchasing intent?


Increasing paid ad-spend in response to reality TV stimuli can help ensure your brand and product are at the top of the results pages, appearing to the consumer at the exact moment their purchasing intent is at its peak. Being there and visible in the moment it matters is vital as it helps brands tunnel ad-spend at the most valuable times when the traffic is at its highest. This tactic can be a fruitful way of competing with other brands and sponsors and ensuring you’re getting the awareness you need at the time you need it.

Do you want your business or product to be the star of the show, when it matters? Contact the team at mporium to see how mporium IMPACT can help serve your offerings exactly when it’s desired.

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