By Bob Fernandez,
Consumers clicking on social-media posts are changing the way Americans shop, the top executive of a Philadelphia tech company says.
In a holiday season that has already set online sales records, a survey commissioned by Philadelphia’s Curalate Inc. says that 76 percent of Americans — or three out of four shoppers — have bought products they were exposed to on a brand’s social-media post.
The OnePoll survey points to a shift in consumer behavior as shoppers find shirts, slacks, dresses, shoes, and other items on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat through a brand’s feed, or sponsored ads. OnePoll surveyed 1,000 consumers online over the summer for Curalate, which spent $2,000 for the research.
It’s not surprising that the highest proportion of those shopping through social-media posts were millennials: 82 percent of respondents between the ages of 25 and 34 had bought a product after seeing a social-media post on it.
But the OnePoll survey also showed that significant numbers of baby boomers are influenced by social media, indicating the ubiquity of the platforms. According to the survey’s results, 67 percent of respondents between 55 and 65 years old had bought a product after seeing it on social media.
Five-year-old Curalate, with offices in Philadelphia, New York, Seattle, and London, helps companies promote their products through social-media feeds and instantly creates online catalogs of products for consumers, branded as “Showroom.” The company believes that brands need to make it easier for consumers to discover and impulsively buy products they see online — they way they do when shopping in brick-and-mortar stores.
“We are witnessing a major, major shift in consumer behavior” as social-media posts function similarly to billboards that advertise products or department-store windows that draw consumers into a product or brand’s website, said Apu Gupta, Curalate’s cofounder and CEO.
Social media have been undervalued by marketers, who are looking for click-through-to-purchases but many times don’t find them on social media, Gupta said. Instead, he noted, consumers discover products online and eventually purchase those products days or weeks later. According to the survey’s results, 65 percent of shoppers viewing a social-media post purchased at a later date, and 20 percent did so in a physical store.
The survey’s findings seem to reflect a certain momentum for social media’s influence on shopping activity.
A March 2016 study by BigCommerce, an Austin, Texas, e-commerce platform, and research firm Kelton Global indicated that 23 percent of consumers reported being influenced in their purchases by social-media recommendations, with 30 percent saying they would make a purchase from a social-media network such as Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, or Snapchat. That study did not specifically look at how many people viewed social-media posts, then eventually bought the items they had viewed.
Based on sales numbers released by Adobe Analytics Data on Tuesday morning, Cyber Monday was the biggest U.S. online shopping day in history. Use of mobile devices, especially smartphones, accounted for just more than half of sales and nearly 40 percent of revenue. Adobe reported that $6.59 billion had been spent online, a 16.8 percent growth year over year. Revenue driven by smartphones hit an all-time high.
According to the OnePoll survey, Facebook was the platform most popular with shoppers, with 52 percent of respondents saying they had discovered a product on it. The comparable data for other platforms were Pinterest, 22 percent; Instagram, 18 percent; Twitter, 17 percent; and Snapchat, 7 percent.