The leading social platform for product discovery is…

A majority of consumers prefer one social media network to find new products.

Every demographic group except one favors the same social media channel to discover new products.

According to a new global consumer survey from direct-to-consumer e-commerce company ESW, YouTube ranked as the dominant social media channel used for new product discovery across all demographic groups, with the exception of baby boomers. Among Gen Z survey respondents, 55% indicated that YouTube is a primary discovery channel (tied with Instagram), as did 53% of millennials and 47% of gen X respondents. However, a leading 36% of baby boomer respondents use Facebook for social product discovery, followed by YouTube with 34%.

For Gen Z respondents, TikTok places third for social product discovery at 41%. For millennials, Facebook ranks second to YouTube as a source of product discovery (47%), followed closely by Instagram at 46%.

Cross-border e-commerce trends
The study, “Global Voices: Cross-Border Shopper Insights,” also examines a variety of trends in e-commerce transactions performed between countries. Gen Z and millennials continue to be the most active cross-border shoppers, with 49% of Gen Z and 47% of millennials respondents shopping globally for apparel, the most popular international direct-to-consumer category.

In addition, Gen Z and millennial shoppers shop online across borders at three times the rate of boomers for luxury, and twice the rate of boomers for beauty.

The study also reveals that the U.S. has overtaken China as the world’s number one cross-border e-commerce shopping destination. Nearly 53% of shoppers surveyed across 14 countries purchased products from U.S.-based retailers or brands in 2021. China dropped to second place, receiving 39% of global direct-to-consumer transactions, compared with 59% in the fourth quarter of 2020. The U.K. ranked third at 21%.

According to the study, the U.S. also ranked first for cross-border online luxury shopping, with the highest penetration of these purchases coming from countries including South Africa (70%), South Korea (66%) and China (60%).

Other notable findings include:

  • Luxury and fragrances are the two categories that saw the fastest cross-border e-commerce growth over the past 12 months, with both categories up 50% compared to the end of 2020.
  • Skincare and cosmetics global e-commerce sales are both up 31% since the end of 2020.

A recent survey from RetailMeNot confirms that social media is impacting how consumers shop. Findings indicate that 54% of surveyed consumers say social shopping allows them to find new products, 39% say it has changed how they search for products, and 34% say it enables them to find better product details.

“International travelers have always been drawn to shopping in the US, and now our data indicate that e-commerce sites in this market are equally coveted by global consumers,” said Patrick Bousquet-Chavanne, ESW president and CEO, Americas. “These shoppers clearly appreciate the competitive pricing, variety, quality, and unique assortments found in e-commerce brands in the U.S., and they find it increasingly convenient to buy directly online from those brands.”

ESW’s survey was fielded from 14,697 consumers in 14 countries (U.K., France, Germany, U.S., Canada, Mexico, South Africa, United Arab Emirates, India, Russia, China, South Korea, Japan, and Australia), who were surveyed online in November 2021. Gen Zers are defined as consumers ages 18–24, millennials as ages 25–40, Gen Xers as ages 41–56, baby boomers as ages 57–75, and the silent generation as ages 76–92.

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