Study sounds warning for social media retail campaigns

04 Oct 2018  |  David Pidgeon 
Study sounds warning for social media retail campaigns

A new study out this week has suggested that brands need to turn social platforms from "a source of inspiration" into an "actual purchase channel" - with fewer than one in ten UK shoppers claiming social media plays a role in buying habits.

The research, published by agency UM London, shows that retailers that focus their marketing budgets on social media and smartphone campaigns might be on the "wrong track".

In addition, more than half of those surveyed (54%) still use a home computer or laptop when they carry out online research or look for inspiration before making a purchase, whereas only 38% use their smartphone.

The study was conducted among 4,800 adults in the UK. It found that the categories where social media has the most influence are when people buy a new kitchen or bathroom (15%) or beauty products (11%).

By comparison, only around one in 17 (6%) of DIY/garden centre shoppers and only 7% of fashion/apparel shoppers say that social networks play a role in their purchase.

“Brands need to look at turning social platforms from a place of inspiration into something that prompts an actual purchase," said Glen Parker, chief insight officer EMEA at UM.

"Instagram, for example, is great at building engagement but sometimes integrating a purchase mechanic on the platform itself can feel incongruous."

Parker said one way to do this is to integrate social content into retailers’ shoppable channels instead. For example, having social feedback in the stores themselves or on their websites via reviews, user photos and influencer content.

"Developing an Instagram campaign for your brand just because you think ‘that’s where all the millennials are’ is unlikely to bear fruit," he said.

“Similarly, websites need to be mobile-ready but ‘smartphone first’ may not always be the right way to approach digital marketing – particularly for fashion and grocery brands. Laptops and PCs are still the main device people use for research and inspiration, probably while at home or at work rather than on the go.”

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