Keeping it real - Gen Z and Millennials the social commerce boom

When it comes to social commerce, it’s no surprise to find that younger people are leading the way. Gen Z shoppers already account for four in ten of global consumers; their behaviour will shape the future of retailing.

Marjorie Leonidas

| 25 February 2021 |

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When it comes to social commerce, it’s no surprise to find that younger people are leading the way. Research by ParcelHero last year in the UK found nearly 30% of millennials and one in four Generation Zs have bought something online that they spotted on social media. 

Gen Z and Millennials – defined roughly as those aged between 4-40 years old – are an important and influential group for brands and retailers.

Gen Z shoppers already account for four in ten of global consumers; their behaviour will shape the future of retailing.

The trust that exists between influencers and young consumers makes social commerce much more than just another sales channel. Edelman says 63% of 18- to 34-year-olds trust what influencers say about brands more than they trust the brand’s own advertisements. 

Add that level of trust to the rich data social media platforms hold on users’ likes and behaviours and social commerce becomes an exceptionally powerful proposition that covers every step of the shopping journey - browsing, inspiration, discovery, choosing, sharing and purchasing, all personalised for each individual.

To understand more, we canvassed our own sample of younger consumers in the Taggstar office, asking them, what does a good social commerce experience look like for you?  They told us:

“I need to see the products clearly listed with description and pricing. And if I click through, then I want to go straight to that product page, NOT a list page! And again, styled in a way so I can imagine where I would place it in my home.”

“I like targeted recommendations. Take hair products. I really want to see someone with my hair type using the product, with before and after photos. To understand how they apply it in their routine and learn what benefits they’ve seen. All the products that I now use in my hair care routine were originally discovered and purchased through Instagram.”

“When it’s clothing, I like to see how the item is styled. Can it be dressed up or down for different occasions or weather? What other items would match? And can I buy them from the same shop, so it comes in the same delivery? A full outfit is helpful, so if I’m attracted to the top, I can imagine my own wardrobe while looking at the outfit the stylist has put together.”

Overall, according to Drapers Gen Z and Millennials report Instagram is the most popular network for fashion inspiration by some margin: 52% of Gen Z and millennial respondents say they use it to browse for fashion. However, this grows to 64% for Gen Z, and falls to 40% for millennials.

Gen Z are also more likely to use TikTok (29% vs 11%), Snapchat (also 29% vs 11%), YouTube (40% vs 26%), Pinterest (23% vs 15%) and Tumblr (7% vs 3%) for inspiration.

The only network millennials are more likely to use than Gen Z is Facebook (42% vs 28%).

“For homeware, I want to see images of the product in a household setting, so I can get an idea of the size and how it would fit in my room or house. An image that shows off the product clearly and in a stylish way is important. The product description should be clearly visible, and tell me what material it’s made of, and if it’s part of a range.”

Our respondents also had clear views on how real time social proof messaging can contribute to the social commerce experience:

“It is always reassuring to see how many people are viewing and purchasing something I’m thinking of buying.” 

“Often, I will see and click an advert a couple times before I finally make the purchase, so seeing how many people have purchased since my last visit would probably be a huge nudge. “

““Reviews help you feel confident about purchasing an item without actually seeing the product – what’s the quality like? does it come true to size? - so you don’t have to order multiple sizes or make returns.” 

“I usually buy fashion to follow trends, so knowing if an item is popular or has been purchased a number of times will also give me that push to purchase.”

Gen Z and Millennials build relationships with brands that share their values of authenticity and community. By sharing the real time behaviour of people just like them, social proof adds authenticity and a sense of community to social commerce, helping to build trust in the brand and the online shopping experience.