Survey: Social shopping comes of age

Social commerce is a real consumer phenomenon.

Retailers that do not engage in social commerce may want to jump-start their efforts to get involved.

According to a new survey of U.S. consumers who are active on social media from cloud-based social media management software provider Sprout Social, close to seven in 10 (68%) respondents have already purchased directly from social media. Nearly all (98%) respondents plan to make at least one purchase through social shopping or influencer commerce this year.

Examining social commerce preferences by generation, the survey found that Gen Z shoppers (18-24 years old) anticipate using visual-first social networks like Instagram, TikTok and Snapchat to make purchases in 2022; while Gen X (41-56 years) and baby boomers (57-75 years) plan to increase their purchases on Pinterest and Facebook.

Additional findings from the survey and key trends related to social commerce include:

  • More than 85% of respondents who currently use virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) have already started social shopping.
  • Sixty percent of respondents report that they’re more likely to buy from brands that highlight inclusivity in their content, for instance featuring different races, ethnicities or gender identities in ads and feeds. Inclusivity is especially important to younger shoppers, with 73% of Gen Z and 72% of millennials citing this as a purchase factor.
  • Recommendations from friends rank high in impact across all age groups, serving as the primary source of influence for consumers ages 18-40, even ahead of influencers. The same is true for baby boomers, who still trust friends and family the most.

A recent survey from Accenture supports these findings, indicating that the $492 billion global social commerce industry is expected to grow three times as fast as traditional e-commerce to $1.2 trillion by 2025, from $492 billion in 2021. The social commerce share of e-commerce spend will grow to 17% from 10% in that timeframe.

Accenture predicts growth to be driven primarily by Gen Z and millennial social media users, who are expected to account for a combined 62% of global social commerce spend by 2025. Millennial social commerce spending is expected to hit $401 billion (33%), with Gen Z spending at $359 billion (29%). Gen X is expected to closely follow with $344 billion (28%) of social commerce spend in 2025, and boomers lagging with $128 billion (10%).

“Our survey findings make it clear—the opportunity has never been greater for brands to leverage the social storefront to create powerful, frictionless connections with customers,” said Jamie Gilpin, chief marketing officer, Sprout Social. “As the majority of consumers have already made a purchase on social media or plan to do so this year, brands that embrace social commerce as a key part of their omnichannel strategy will more effectively pique the interest of consumers, help drive revenue and outpace the competition in 2022 and beyond.”

This consumer survey is comprised of data from U.S. participants collected via online survey. Participants were recruited by Lucid between December 14-19, 2021 among 996 adults ages 18-75. Selected participants were those who use at least one social media platform and follow at least one brand on social media.

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