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Why social media has become the place to buy during Covid-19: study

Burberry is engaging with customers on TikTok – and other social media platforms. Image courtesy of Burberry

Social media has become a key location for retail inspiration and purchases during the Covid-19 pandemic, a time when shops have often closed, a new study suggests. And the fastest growth of all, it finds, has been on TikTok (+553%).

The platform has seen sales grow faster than the more established Pinterest (+356%), Instagram (+189%) and Facebook (+160%), according to a Bazaarvoice Influenster study. 

The study questioned 3,373 UK shoppers and found that more than three quarters (79%) said they were now more influenced to shop on social platforms than they were a year ago. The latest group (64%) had bought on Instagram over the past year, followed by Facebook (45%) and TikTok (24%). The number that say they “always” shop from their smartphone rose by 214%, and those who “always” shop from social media were up by 146%. 

Ed Hill, SVP EMEA at Bazaarvoice, says, “The impact of the pandemic on social commerce is significant. Over the past year, commerce has become a cornerstone feature for social platforms, as consumers have spent more time on social apps. Brands that have realised this opportunity have succeeded, as consumers are now more likely to see – and be influenced by – brand advertising, user generated content (UGC) and influencer posts.” 

Social media plays a key role, the study found, in encouraging shoppers to try new brands, with 70% doing so via social in the last year, and 49% opting for a new brand thanks to social media. When asked what encouraged them to buy from a new brand on social media, 47% said it was the relevancy, followed by a product’s benefits, features or ingredients (41%), visual brand content (27%) and the price (27%). When brands are  previously unknown to the shopper, they are most likely to be swayed to buy by the product’s benefits, features or ingredients (45%), ahead of relevancy 943%) and price. 

“To stand out on these platforms, brands and retailers must distribute content to all the places shoppers find their products, from in-store to search to social,” says Hill, adding: “By incentivising consumers to buy their products on social, retailers can take them from the point of product inspiration and discovery, all the way through to purchase without even leaving an app. Social commerce isn’t simply about making posts shoppable though, retailers need to take customers from just buying online to truly shopping online with an engaging and inspirational shopping journey.”

Bazaarvoice’s Influenster community – a social shopping experience – carried out the research. The 3,272 respondents, questioned between March 8 and April 6 2021, were 18% Generation Z, 71% Generation &, 10% Generation X and 1% Baby Boomers. 

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