Consumers Show Readiness for Social Shopping

With U.S. social commerce sales expected to reach $14 billion by 2015, and social networks like Twitter and Facebook ramping up their commerce capabilities, a new survey commissioned by DigitasLBi, a global marketing and technology agency, and conducted online by Harris Poll shows that while only 5% of Americans have made a purchase on a social media site, 20% would consider doing so.

"Our study reveals tremendous untapped potential for growth in social commerce, especially among younger consumers," says Tony Weisman, CEO, DigitasLBi North America. "The 5% of Americans who have made a purchase on a social media site equates to around $14 billion in online retail revenue. If we can reach 20%, that figure scales to $56 billion. To activate that potential, brands and social networks need to provide social shopping experiences that meet the needs of consumers, including security around financial data, privacy, and a seamless buying process."

Security of Financial Data and Privacy are Key Components to Driving Social Commerce Growth

The survey uncovers a variety of shopping features that what would make social media users more likely to make a purchase on a social network:

  • Knowing their credit card information was secure (42%)
  • Knowing their purchase wouldn't be shared (38%)
  • A total purchase price under $25 (33%)
  • A "click to buy" feature that would allow users to complete their transaction without leaving the social network (26%)
  • The ability to save payment information within the site, so users wouldn't have to reenter it each time they make a purchase (24%)

Our research indicates that concerns over financial security have eased somewhat since 2012, when, according to a social commerce study commissioned by DigitasLBi, 55% of social media users were not "comfortable" giving credit card information via a social network.

When looking at who has made purchases on social media, the 2014 study shows that age and region play a role:

  • Those ages 18–34 are more than three times as likely as those ages 35 or older to have made a purchase on a social media site (11% vs. 3%, respectively)
  • Nearly one in ten parents with a child under age 18 has made a purchase on a social media site (9%)
  • Those in the South are more likely than those in the Northeast to consider making a purchase on a social media site (24% vs. 15%)
  • Over a third (35%) of social media users would use a hashtag when purchasing on a social media site if it offered a discount on a purchase

Younger Consumers More Likely to Engage in Social Shopping

Among social media users, a strong majority (85%) still report they would rather make purchases from an online retailer (e.g., Amazon​.com, Walmart​.com) where sharing is not a central function of the site. Despite these findings, a deeper look reveals that those ages 18–44 (33%) are more than twice as likely as those ages 45 or older (18%) to say they would consider making a purchase on a social network.

Additional results from the study include:

  • 79% of Americans use social media
  • Women are more likely to be social media users than men (84% vs. 75%, respectively); that figure rises to 91% for those ages 18—34
  • Women are more likely than men to use social media on a daily basis (58% vs. 39%)

AudienceSCAN reports that over 18% of social network users are on these sites to get discounts and deals. The social shopper audience is largely female, 68.4%.  These consumers are more likely than average to enjoy fashion products like handbags and pastimes like knitting and sewing. Marketers may be able to reach these social shoppers with daily deals as 37% have responded to this kind of promotion in the past 30 days.

AudienceSCAN data is available as part of a subscription to AdMall for Agencies. Media companies can access AudienceSCAN data through the Audience Intelligence Reports in AdMall.

Kathy Crosett
Kathy is the Vice President of Research for SalesFuel. She holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Vermont and oversees a staff of researchers, writers and content providers for SalesFuel. Previously, she was co-​owner of several small businesses in the health care services sector.