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04/01/2022

Survey: Retail set for social commerce boom

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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Social media is emerging as a commerce channel.

Consumers have fully embraced the concept of purchasing products via social media.

That’s according to a study by social media management solutions provider Sprout Social, which surveyed of 1,000 U.S. consumers about how they plan to perform social shopping in 2022.  Virtually all (98%) respondents said they plan to make at least one purchase through social shopping or influencer commerce in 2022, with more than two-thirds (68%) making at least one purchase directly from social media in 2021. 

Among 18-to-24-year-old Gen Z respondents, the most popularly anticipated social platforms for making purchases are Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat – all visually-focused platforms. For 25-to-40-year-old millennials, Reddit is most popular; with Pinterest leading among 41-to-56-year-old Gen Xers and Facebook the most popular social commerce of choice among baby boomer respondents age 57-75.

Not surprisingly, the survey uncovered generational differences in how frequently consumers use augmented reality and virtual reality (AR/VR) and in-app shopping features. Gen Z led in usage of both (32%/52%), followed by millennials (30%/51%), Gen X (14%/41%) and baby boomers (5%/37%). More than eight in 10 (85%) respondents currently using AR and VR have already started social shopping.

The survey also revealed the most common ways respondents find a product on social media:

  • Seeing a targeted ad 49%.
  • Organic post by a brand 40%.
  • Researching on social media 34%.
  • Seeing a friend’s post 34%.
  • Hearing about it directly via tags or direct messages 22%.

Looking at the most impactful reasons consumers make purchases on social media, the study found the top four reasons are:

  1. Recommendation of a friend.
  2. Comments or product reviews, tied with familiarity with the brand.
  3. Recommendation of a significant other.

The survey also measured current and anticipation usage levels of various hot-button social shopping features, finding:

  • 61% of respondents watch livestreams and 53% want to watch them more in 2022.
  • 41% of respondents use in-app shopping and 41% want to use it more in 2022.
  • 35% of respondents comment or engage in livestreams and 33% want to do this more in 2022.
  • 35% of respondents share product reviews or purchases and 31% want to share more in 2022.
  • 31% of respondents use live chat and 28% want to use it more in 2022.
  • 16% of respondents use VR/AR and 21% want to use this technology more in 2022.

Gen Z depend on social media
According to a recent consumer survey from CM Group, Gen Z is more dependent on social media as an informational source than other generations. Almost half (49%) of Gen Z respondents say they obtain their news and information from YouTube, compared to 37% of millennial respondents.

In addition, 23% of Gen Z respondents share news and information on TikTok, twice that of respondents from any other generation. CM Group advises 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.