Food Brands Eye Social Commerce Despite Disappointing Results

Food brands may be looking for ways to capitalize on the potential of social media commerce, but for now, PYMNTS research indicates, the potential is all there is, with consumers frustrated by early moves in the space.

At a Digital Food & Beverage Conference keynote panel on Monday (June 12) in La Jolla, California, executives from PepsiCo and General Mills, among others, are discussing the subject of “Preparing for the Next Wave of Social Commerce,” even as the current wave has not yielded the results that brands, retailers and social media platforms might have hoped for.

Social media giant Meta, for one, has been pulling back on its social commerce efforts this year in a move to cut costs, removing certain shoppable features and de-emphasizing others, and last month, it was reported that TikTok has put the launch of its U.S. shopping platform on pause.

Indeed, consumers have been frustrated with their social commerce experiences. Research from PYMNTS’ “Enhancing The eCommerce Checkout Report: Streamlining User Experiences To Build Customer Loyalty,” created in collaboration with, which draws from a census-balanced survey of more than 2,000 U.S. consumers last year, reveals that 60% of online shoppers experienced at least one pain point in their last social commerce checkout transaction. This figure is more than twice the share that said the same of any other channel.

Plus, the same study found that 38% of consumers characterized the checkout process on social media platforms as frustrating, once again more than twice the share saying the same of any other eCommerce channel.

That said, food brands in some ways are in a unique position, given the popularity of recipe content on social media channels as entertainment, creating opportunities to reach consumers outside of the typical high-intent eCommerce platforms.

In an interview with PYMNTS, Jason Young, then president of digital shopper marketing platform Chicory, laid out the advantage that food and beverage brands and retailers have in contextual commerce.

“Recipe content has always been incredibly shoppable. What’s happening is, we now have the pipes all connected so that you can go very directly from content like recipes into transactional moments,” Young said. “But if you look at recipes historically, they’ve always been a point of inspiration, a point of kicking off the food shopping process.”

As such, some grocers continue to tap shoppable content in an effort to create open up channels to drive conversion. Earlier this year, for instance, The Fresh Market, a supermarket chain based in North Carolina with 159 stores across 22 states, expanded its partnership with video commerce solution provider Firework, creating a retail media network featuring live, shoppable video content, such as recipes and tutorials, on the grocer’s digital channels. Firework has also worked with grocery giant Albertsons on shoppable livestreams.

Still, while social commerce could hold potential for larger brands and retailers with resources to invest in costly content, it presents major challenges for smaller players, leaving them at the mercy of social media platforms’ ever-changing algorithms, leading to significant shifts in sales for businesses that depend on social media.

Overall, however, these concerns are mitigated by eCommerce’s relatively small role in the total grocery market. Research from PYMNTS’ new study “Tracking the Digital Payments Takeover: Catching the Coming eCommerce Wave,” created in collaboration with Amazon Web Services, which draws from an April survey of a census-balanced panel of nearly 2,700 U.S. consumers, reveals that 87% of grocery transactions are carried out in stores, and only 12% occur online.


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