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The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated consumer adoption of online shopping, including shopping on social media as more than a third (39%) of all US consumers say they have made a purchase on social media and would do so again. With 90% of consumers aware of brand pages/accounts on social media—and only 10% who say they avoid brands’ social media pages—the opportunity for engagement is huge.

Katie Hansen, Retail and eCommerce Analyst at Mintel, said:

“Social commerce is the next evolution of eCommerce and will benefit from Americans’ heavy use of online shopping in recent years. As with the adoption of online shopping, it will take time for consumers to become comfortable purchasing items via social media, and even more time for them to do so on any kind of regular basis, but the category will see a boost as a result of increasing engagement from younger consumers as they grow into adulthood and earn more money. That said, social commerce will in no way replace traditional eCommerce or in-store shopping, but it will become a key part of their shopping repertoire,” stated Hansen.

Security and trust remain big barriers to social commerce

While consumers are increasingly curious about social commerce, barriers such as data security and shipping hold some back from participating. Two in five (38%) consumers say they haven’t made a purchase directly on a social media platform due to the lack of trust in the security of their payment information, while 23% say it’s because they are worried they will never receive their purchase. This signals that education on social commerce is still needed. 

“As with any new concept, consumers still need a fair amount of education and reassurance on the process, as they are concerned that their data might not be secure and/or that they’ll never receive the item they purchase. Brands will need to demonstrate to consumers how shopping on social media is quite similar to shopping via a website or mobile app and how, in fact, social commerce can even further streamline the process,” continued Hansen.

Consumers want to see themselves reflected in a brand

Mintel research shows that social media can be a seamless avenue for brands and consumers to connect. Consumers of varying backgrounds are interested in social commerce, most notable are parents with children under the age of 18 (81%), Millennials (81%), Gen Z (68%), and Black consumers (62%). What’s more, nearly three in 10 Black (29%) and Asian (27%) consumers browse for products on social media but purchase on a website. This is true for around a quarter of White (24%) and Hispanic (21%) consumers. This showcases a notable percentage of consumers who are leaving social channels to make purchases and indicates how important it is for brands to represent consumers of all backgrounds to encourage a purchase.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion actions are not a ‘nice-to-have’ but a ‘must-have’ these days if brands want to connect with consumers. Brands need to be sure they are making their social feed diverse to show consumers that it takes diversity seriously, cares about its consumers; and offers products and solutions that meet a list of diverse needs. This could entail social media posts featuring diverse models, talking about charitable efforts that support communities of color, or highlighting internal operations aimed to hire and promote employees of color.

“Consumers want to see themselves portrayed in brands’ efforts as they are more likely to feel that the brand is for them, but a seamless, trustworthy experience is the first critical piece in encouraging them to shop. Brands should take note of this desire and make a conscious effort to highlight different individuals in their social posts in order to better connect with their consumers,” concluded Hansen.

Additional research on social commerce trends and interviews with the analyst are available upon request from the Mintel Press Office.