Consumer comfort level with social, AR moves needle on new purchasing methods

HIGH POINT — Social commerce is projected to be a $107 billion business two years from now, which is why understanding how consumers view and use this shopping channel is becoming so important.

A recent study by Magna Media Trials in conjunction with Reprise Commerce and Snap found social media platforms play a significant role in the purchase journey, with 82% of U.S. respondents using social for product discovery and nearly half (46%) for purchase.

Social was easily the top online source for product discovery among all respondents (67%), eclipsing online marketplaces (52%) and search engines (48%). As may be expected, Gen Z (72%) and Millennials (69%) led the change in using social to find new products.

consumer connection

The study revealed that augmented reality (AR) is likely to bring the benefits of in-store shopping to the online experience by replicating some of the activities that now occur in stores, such as trying on clothing or sharing products with family and friends.

Overall, 66% of respondents from all four countries canvassed said AR would bring excitement to shopping online, while 60% of Americans agreed with this statement. Half of U.S. respondents said they would be less likely to shop in-store if they could virtually experience a product before buying it.

The AR experience also instills more confidence in a purchase, according to 69% of those taking the survey. Looking at AR on a category basis, 85% said they would be somewhat or very interested in using AR for furniture shopping, putting it just a couple of percentage points behind clothing, which was No. 1.

Social media platforms were also cited as likely drivers for direct-to-consumer shopping vs. online marketplaces.

Among all respondents, 92% said they would purchase directly from a brand via social if the brand offered incentives such as good deals and discounts, user-friendly apps, real-time customer service, instant shopping capabilities, recommendations for products through ads, and timely updates on sales and events.

For its study, Magna Media Trials conducted five hour-long, 25-person focus groups in the United States and fielded an online survey of 8,000 respondents split among the United States, United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, and Germany. Magna is a New York-based media investment and intelligence company.