Social Media Leading To ‘Major Shift’ In Shopping
BY BOB FERNANDEZ The Philadelphia inquirer (TNS) Consumers clicking on social-media posts are changing how 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 Curalate Inc. found that 76 percent of Americans 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 products on Facebook, Pinter-est, 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. The highest proportion of those shopping through social-media posts were millennials: 82 percent of respondents ages 25 to 34 had bought products after seeing social-media posts about them.

But the OnePoll survey also showed that significant numbers of baby boomers are influenced by social media. According to the survey’s results, 67 percent of respondents ages 55 to 65 bought products after seeing them on social media. 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 says 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 co-founder 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 said, consumers discover products online and purchase those products days or weeks later. According to the survey’s results, 65 percent of shoppers seeing 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. According to the One-Poll 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.