Influencer effect: Shoppers are spending billions on items in their social media feeds

Jun 30, 2024
Influencer effect: Shoppers are spending billions on items in their social media feeds

NEW YORK — As online shopping continues to overtake brick-and-mortar businesses, it turns out that even online websites are becoming a thing of the past. Based on their shopping habits on social media, a new survey finds Americans have the potential to spend upwards of $59 billion — based solely on what shoppers see in their social feeds!

The poll of 2,000 U.S. adults who use social media found that 68% have shopped through their social media feeds, and the average person would willingly spend a maximum of $262 on any single item they come across. Respondents were found to use Facebook (85%), Instagram (49%), and TikTok (38%) on a regular basis. However, three in four people admitted a ban on TikTok would have “little to no” impact on how they shop.

Many social media users said they like using platforms for shopping because it makes the experience easier or more convenient (33%), they’re already on social media all the time (32%), and because they can see exactly how products are used or how they perform (30%). American consumers also said they prefer social media shopping because they see better deals offered on social media (26%), it’s more fun and exciting (22%), and it’s easier to search for things than going to a physical store (20%).

Commissioned by UserTesting and conducted by Talker Research, the survey found 72% of social media purchases are unplanned and spontaneous, with people buying everything from clothing (52%) to gifts (33%), shoes and accessories (33%), beauty products (30%), and even electronics (28%). Close to two-thirds (62%) were generally satisfied with the products they’ve bought through social media, compared to traditional online retailers. Similarly, 68% described their average experience as positive.

Nearly half the poll (47%) said they’d likely purchase something seen on social media if they see others using it, and one in five respondents have experienced a fear of missing out (FOMO) from seeing others use advertised items. Although 46% of respondents reported purchasing items through social media that did not match their advertisements, nearly three-quarters indicated they would continue to use the same platforms for future shopping.

A fifth (21%) have also used social media platforms as a way to participate in live-streaming shopping events, and 83% of them likely purchase products shown as a result.

“The online shopping habits of Americans have been evolving. This current wave of social media shopping shows the combined power of micro-targeting and social proof,” says Lija Hogan, Principal of Enterprise Research Strategy at UserTesting, in a statement. “It’s easy and embraces the habits people have already developed with social media.”

“Social media often plays on several levels; not only do you have the brand telling the story, but the reactions of customers in comments function as social proof — ratings and reviews in the form of a narrative. While this could be risky, the confidence of brands who show the ability to be open and address questions or challenges in public may reinforce the positive feelings customers build,” Hogan continues.

The study also found that, above all else, Americans primarily use social media to discover products before making purchasing decisions. Many use their feeds to either read product reviews (22%), research products (20%), or gain inspiration for how to use products (15%). The reviews can be make or break: 53% would be less likely to purchase a product if they see negative reviews.

The majority (88%) said they’d likely trust others, including their family members (32%), friends (28%), and significant others (14%), to show them products they’d like. A third (35%) said they’d trust influencers to review products, but many said they’d lose trust if they learned influencers were being sponsored by the company whose product it is (28%), if the review is biased (26%), or if they don’t point out any drawbacks (26%). Another 58% said they would scroll past a sponsored post on social media. 

Thirty-seven percent tend to either love or like the ads they see, citing the ads as helpful ways to find new products they’ve never seen before (66%) or show them what’s currently trendy (35%). Meanwhile, 18% aren’t fond of ads, saying they disrupt how they use social media (63%) and aren’t interested in seeing what’s going viral (44%). 

“People have always valued the opinions of friends and family when shopping, but social media shopping adds another dimension by allowing shoppers to observe others reacting to reviews and sharing their experiences with products,” Hogan adds. “As the value of ratings and reviews increases, people will put more trust and weight behind other people’s direct experiences with products when making buying decisions.”

Source: studyfinds