The influence of social media on buying habits continues to grow, with new research revealing that UK shoppers are 79 percent more likely to discover new products on social media than they were just two years ago.
Instagram is driving that, with a 64 percent increase in consumers using the Facebook-owned social media platform to find inspiration, the research by social commerce company Curalate revealed.
Over a third of the 2,000 consumers polled, all of which were 18 or older, said they visit a brand’s social media feed explicitly to find inspiration from products and featured content, while 62 percent said their main aim when shopping is to stumble on new items they didn't know existed.
Commenting on the figures in a statement, Apu Gupta, CEO of Curalate, said: “One of the joys of shopping is the thrill of the find. Larger numbers of people are turning to social media for inspiration and making considered purchases, which highlights one of the key shortfalls in ecommerce today: brands are outsourcing discovery to social media.”
But as consumers increasingly look to social media for inspiration, they are still hesitant to make impulse purchases. Only 8 percent of consumers are ready to buy immediately after discovering a new product - up from 4.5 percent in 2017. Most UK consumers (72 percent) said they still need to research a product and brand before making a purchase, often citing the need to look through a brand's wider product offerings.
The research also revealed that 59 percent of shoppers are positively impacted when they see customers’ pictures from a brand’s Instagram feed on its website, which can result in them spending more time browsing and increasing the chance they purchase new products.
Celebrity influence seems to do little to influence consumers these days, with the study revealing that more than twice as many people discovered products from the social media accounts of micro-influencers or bloggers compared to 'household name' celebrities.
Gupta added: “Our research shows consumers are leaning towards more authentic experiences, with customer content a key part of the buying process. As brands build a more inspirational shopping experience online, they need to invest in creating those experiences with content that’s a blend between the traditional, aspirational approach and the more authentic approach found on social media today.”
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