TikTok takes off as Covid fuels rise of social commerce

mobileTikTok’s drive for a major slice of the online shopping market has gone into overdrive since the start of the pandemic, with a 553% increase in the past 12 months – albeit from a low start – almost three times the growth of shopping on Instagram (189%) and Facebook (160%).

According to new research from Bazaarvoice’s “Influenster” community, Instagram remains ahead in the social commerce game, with 64% of consumers shopping from the platform in the past year, followed by Facebook (45%) and TikTok (24%).

But the popularity of TikTok’s short-form video content is seeing it challenge Facebook’s monopoly for consumer spend and attention. Another platform to watch out for is Pinterest, which has seen a 356% growth in consumers making purchases in the past 12 months, the study reveals.

The research, which quizzed 3,272 UK consumers, finds that the influence of social media on consumers’ shopping preferences has grown significantly over the past year, with social platforms increasingly becoming the first port of call for shoppers looking to discover products and make purchases.

There continues to be growing potential for social commerce, with nearly four in five (79%) consumers now more influenced to shop on social platforms than they were a year ago. This comes as the number of those ‘always’ shopping from their smartphone increased by a significant 214%, and those who ‘always’ shop from social media increased by 146%.

Bazaarvoice senior vice-president EMEA Ed Hill said: “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.”

Bazaarvoice says that the ability to browse and discover new products and brands online has often been stumbling block for ecommerce in recent years, however, 70% of consumers indicated that they had used social media to shop for a new brand in the last year.

In fact, almost half (49%) had actually opted for a new brand over their go-to-brand thanks to social media. The relevancy of a product (47%) is the top driver behind why consumers chose a new brand from social media, followed by a product’s benefits, features or ingredients (41%), the visual content produced by the brand (27%), and ultimately price (27%).

Brand loyalty has been knocked in recent months as demand overtook availability, and now over half of consumers (56%) noted that they are ‘sometimes’ influenced to buy from an unknown brand based on having seen it on social media. For unknown brands, a product’s benefits, features or ingredients becomes increasingly important (45%), ahead of relevancy (43%) and price (29%).

Hill continued: “Product and brand discovery on social media is growing, and while this provides retailers with new opportunities to reach consumers, it also makes it all the more challenging for brands to build and maintain customer loyalty. 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.

“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.”

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