UK shoppers muted on social commerce

30 June 2011

LONDON: Consumers in the UK are muted in their enthusiasm for social commerce, a new study has revealed.

Havas Media Social, a specialist unit of the agency network, and Lightspeed Research, the survey firm, polled 1,007 people who have joined properties like Facebook and Twitter.

They found 89% of respondents had not yet purchased goods or services through such Web 2.0 platforms, with 44% showing no interest in this activity.

Similarly, 38% of contributors were not expecting to acquire anything via this route in the next year and 51% forecast less than 10% of their online spending would be accounted for by social commerce.

More broadly, 65% of interviewees estimated the outlay made on individual transactions completed through these Web 2.0 sites was likely to fall in the £1 and £50 range.

"Based on industry predictions and the rate of innovation in this space, social commerce is likely to become a reality," said Amy Kean, director of social media, Havas Media Social.

"But there's still a lot more work for brands to do to help consumers get their heads around it. It is the understanding of social behaviours - not the technology - that we need to prioritise."

Apparel, music and entertainment tickets were the categories named by shoppers as potentially seeing the largest uptake, but only 6% could envisage buying a holiday utilising this channel.

Special offers held rather greater attraction, as 77% of the panel proved keen to access deals from brands which can be redeemed on Facebook.

To date, 40% of relevant netizens had already been presented with deals by brands using Facebook and 40% went on to take up the promotion.

Consumers generally preferred brand websites as a location to do this, the study added.

Another 70% would be more likely to obtain goods from Facebook if targeting technology was used to recommend offerings based on their past behaviour, as is the case on Amazon.

Exclusivity was also important, as 25% of the Havas Media Social/Lightspeed cohort stated they may buy products via Facebook not available elsewhere, a view held by 11% for items just for brand "fans".

For 17%, social commerce might appeal if it was easier than the existing experience, but 44% thought Web 2.0 properties were less secure than sites like Amazon.

Indeed, trust is an essential currency, given 22% of individuals questioned may consider buying goods through Facebook as long as it was from a brand they recognised and had confidence in.

A 17% share suggested a brand recommendation from a friend should boost the probability of their purchasing it on a social network, rising to 53% for looking up further product information.

Over half of respondents would be interested in group buying on social media to receive a discount, hitting 60% among men, and 48% for women.

Around half of the survey community currently "like" companies and products on Facebook, typically lured by deals, mentioned 30% of participants, and competing, recording 28%.

The main reasons for "unfollowing" brands were being overwhelmed with too many posts, logging 35%, and the repetitive nature of content, yielding 33%.

Meanwhile, 55% of the sample displayed a willingness to "check-in" when visiting stores, restaurants - and so on - using mobile geo-location services like FourSquare to access special offers.

Data sourced from Havas Media Social; additional content by Warc staff