Shoppers are increasingly turning to social media to discover brands, with 38% identifying this method as their primary channel, surpassing traditional platforms such as search engines at 37% and TV advertisements at 35%.

This highlights a major change in consumer behavior as social media platforms become primary spaces for brand interaction and discovery.

Insights from GWI’s social media trends report

Dominant platforms for brand interaction

TikTok and Instagram lead in brand discovery. TikTok, in particular, has seen a major increase in use for this purpose, with its usage for finding products and brands tripling since 2020.

Currently, over 40% of consumers report making purchases on TikTok Shop after discovering new brands through the platform’s features. Instagram continues to be a strong channel for visual advertising and direct consumer engagement.

Generational shifts in social media use

Generation Z shows a distinct preference for platforms that offer inspiration-driven shopping experiences, such as Pinterest and TikTok. Specifically, 39% of Pinterest users turn to the platform for style inspiration, with Gen Z users being 54% more likely to utilize Pinterest compared to other demographics.

There’s a clear trend towards visual and interactive media influencing purchase decisions more prominently among younger consumers.

The evolving role of social media in shopping

Usage trends among young consumers

Gen Z heavily relies on social media for pre-purchase research, with 42% using these platforms primarily for shopping-related activities. They are 16% more likely than the average user to leverage social networks to discover new products.

Social media’s role in the consumer purchase journey is expanding, reflecting a shift towards digital-first discovery and purchase habits.

Adapting to changes in social media dynamics

Companies must continuously monitor and adapt to the evolving ways consumers use social networks.

Engagement strategies, content creation, and marketing campaigns need to align with the dynamic preferences and behaviors of social media users.

Brands that effectively respond to these changes can maintain relevance and engagement in a highly competitive digital marketplace.

Impact of influencer marketing on younger generations

Social media continues to transform how younger demographics, specifically those aged 12-15 in the UK, engage with brands and make purchase decisions. There’s a 22% increase in the use of social media for product searches among this age group, indicating a shift towards digital channels for consumer research and buying behavior.

Influencers primarily contribute to this trend, particularly within the ‘clean beauty’ market. This sector, characterized by minimalist makeup and skincare products that emphasize natural ingredients and ethical practices, resonates well with the values of younger consumers who prioritize sustainability and authenticity.

Categories most influenced

Influencers exert a strong influence on specific product categories, particularly skincare and clothing. Among women aged 18-24, 20% report being influenced by endorsements from influencers when purchasing skincare products.

This highlights the persuasive power of influencers in sectors where personal appearance and product efficacy are highly valued. Clothing and apparel follow closely, with influencers shaping fashion trends and brand preferences through social media content.

Trust and authenticity in influencer marketing

While influencers hold sway over consumer preferences, their impact varies greatly with the perceived authenticity and trustworthiness of their endorsements.

In the UK, only 10% of consumers say that influencer recommendations significantly increase their likelihood of making a purchase online. In contrast, 43% of consumers are more influenced by discounts, suggesting that while influencer endorsements can draw attention, tangible incentives like price reductions have a more substantial effect on final purchase decisions.

Trust remains a decisive factor, with influencer trustworthiness ranking third—after value for money and brand reputation—as a consideration in purchasing decisions.

For influencers to effectively sway consumer behavior, they must build and maintain a reputation for honesty and integrity, aligning their endorsements with products that genuinely reflect their personal brand and values.

Community and recommendations on Reddit

An overwhelming 93% of users express satisfaction with purchases made based on recommendations they found on Reddit.

High satisfaction rates spotlight the platform’s effectiveness in fostering a community-driven environment where user opinions and experiences are highly valued over traditional advertising methods.

Reddit’s model, which encourages user interaction and detailed discussion, allows for a more democratic form of product endorsement, where authenticity and peer validation drive consumer confidence and decision-making processes.

Tim Boesen

June 4, 2024

3 Min