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Consumers turn to social media for inspiration but few impulse-shop there

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today Dec 4, 2019
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If you’ve been wondering just how effective social media is as a sales driver, a new study should be of interest. Social commerce company Curalate polled 2,000 UK consumers and said 79% are more likely today to discover new products on social media than they were just two years ago.  


Social media is key for shopping inspiration but remains untrusted for impulse shopping



And which social media channel is key here? Instagram, of course. The company said the shift has been largely driven by Instagram, which has seen a 64% increase in shoppers finding inspiration on the platform. 

And that inspiration isn’t exactly accidental either. More than a third of respondents said they visit a brand’s social media feed mainly to be inspired by the products and content featured there. 

The survey also showed how important inspiration is to the wider shopping experience with 62% of those 2,000 people saying a key aim when they go shopping is to stumble across products they never knew existed, as well as buying what’s on their shopping list. When they spot a product that catches their eye, 77% are motivated to find out more. 

“One of the joys of shopping is the thrill of the find,” said Apu Gupta, CEO of Curalate. “Larger numbers of people are turning to social media for inspiration and making considered purchases, which highlights one of the key shortfalls in e-commerce today: brands are outsourcing discovery to social media.”

But social media still has a trust issue when it comes to actually buying products. While consumers said they’re discovering products on social more often, they’re still almost “as hesitant today to make an impulse buy via social as they were two years ago”, which is interesting given that many people expected consumers to be much more immersed in social media shopping by now. 

Only 8% of them are ready to buy immediately after discovering a product (up from 4.5% in 2017). Some 72% said they still need to research a product and brand, often citing the need to browse additional items in a brand’s product catalogue before making a purchase. 

The research also showed that 59% of consumers are positively affected after seeing customers’ pictures from a brand’s Instagram feed on its website, including spending more time browsing and purchasing new products. 

But what about those people who have the most followers on social media and who are paid large sums to promote products? Well, celebrities seem to be irrelevant to many consumers, but influencers are more important, and not necessarily big-name influencers either.

Curalate said celebrities “appear to be having little sway with consumers. The study showed that over double the number of people discovered products they were interested in buying on a micro-influencer or blogger’s social media account, compared with one belonging to a household name”.  

“Our research shows consumers are leaning towards more authentic experiences, with customer content a key part of the buying process,” Gupta continued. “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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