Social media channels are fast becoming a key retail channel according to Savvy research

Alastair Lockhart

Thu 11th Nov 2021


Savvy’s latest research reveals how social media is fast emerging as a key retail channel.

The findings indicate that shopping using social platforms will pick up pace substantially over the next five years to become a dominant channel, as Gen Z grow up to become adults and the core target retail audience.

The research marks the celebration of 10 years of Savvy’s Shopper Panel and in addition to key reveals, the research looks back at the agency’s first research project in 2011 and highlights pivotal changes over the last decade.

Social butterflies

The research found that shoppers, especially those aged under 35, are turning to social media as a primary source of retail inspiration. 63 percent of Gen Y/Z shoppers said in the research that social media was their first port of call for ideas and inspiration, while 67 percent of Gen Y/Z said that they regularly used social media to find inspiration for meals and food. 66 percent used social media to look for ideas and inspiration for gifts.

This growth in social media shopping is opening up new opportunities for smaller and challenger brands, with 78 percent of younger shoppers in the research saying social media makes it easier to find out about new, small and interesting brands. Over recent years we’ve seen thousands of new brands, born on social channels, enter the market and flourish. Unlike big brands, the success of these businesses is based on innovation, creativity, and relevance, rather than the size of their marketing budgets. Retailing through social channels is far more democratic than store-based and traditional online retailing.

In 2017 only one in 10 of us had clicked on a ‘shop now’ or ‘buy now’ button on social media. Now, that has increased to 56 percent, rising to 73 percent among Gen Y and Gen Z.  As Gen Y drove the smartphone retail revolution in the past five years, we can see how Gen Z will drive the social retail revolution over the next five years.

The metaverse heralds more disruptive change ahead in digital retail

When planning for the next five years, the rising Gen Z will not the only major driver of change. In recent weeks the idea of the metaverse has come to the fore, making front page news, following Facebook’s rebranding to Meta.

As we consider the online retailing environment of the future, the metaverse is where we should look. It is the next incarnation of social media which will provide virtual 3D spaces where people cannot only interact with each other, play and learn, but shop in new interesting ways. Already, from pretty much a standing start, we find that a quarter of UK shoppers are aware of the metaverse and, of them, 60 percent believe they understand what it is. This is not simply an evolution, this would require retailers to fundamentally rethink how they present themselves, how they communicate what they stand for, and how they sell.