Views mixed on social commerce

11 July 2011

NEW YORK: Attitudes towards social commerce are mixed in the UK and US, as shoppers balance the channel's possible benefits against privacy concerns.

JWT surveyed 559 people in America and 412 of their British counterparts to gauge emerging views in this area.

Overall, 81% of 20-33 year olds "liked to shop with friends", as did 50% of 34-46 year olds, and 46% of 47-66 year olds.

Elsewhere, 57% of Millennials - those aged under 33 years old - frequently posted related status updates on Facebook after seeing an "exciting" product.

Figures here stood at 37% for participants in Generation X, namely those between 34 and 46 years of age.

Only 19% of Boomers, or 47-66 years olds, proved equally enthusiastic about such pastimes.

To date, 31% of the sample had signed in to a retailers' website with their Facebook username and password.

Moreover, 60% of this group shared content they had found on the social network.

Another 90% were "somewhat" or "very" willing to receive personalised recommendations from retailers based on their Facebook browsing history.

Some 46% of all consumers questioned concurred such targeted messages might be useful as there is simply "too much information out there".

Additionally, 36% thought this would help them make decisions more quickly, scores which were highest among Millennials.

However, 76% stated a preference for discovering things by themselves, 72% believed it was like being watched by "Big Brother", and 56% suggested it had the potential to make them feel "violated".

More favourably, 60% said their opinions on this matter could be shaped by the quality of the recommendations they ultimately received.

Exactly 33% of the entire panel had logged in to a search engine with their Facebook details, reaching 39% regarding brand websites and 45% when discussing other content platforms, like YouTube.

Over 70% of netizens across all age groups expressed concern their privacy may be jeopardised by making purchases through Facebook and the security provisions in place.

In all, 43% of Millennials "wished there were more opportunities to shop within Facebook", declining to 26% of people from Generation X, and just 16% of Boomers.

Similarly, 46% of Millennials agreed they spent so much time on Facebook already that shopping on its pages made sense, a perception held by 26% of Generation X, and 14% of Boomers.

Americans typically displayed greater enthusiasm for such activities than was the case in the UK, while female respondents also evinced stronger interest than men.

"There's a great deal of hype in this early stage of Social Commerce, as brands experiment with ways to mesh the social graph with shopping," Ann Mack, director of trendspotting at JWT, said.

"What's clear is that there's tremendous potential here for brands to create more personal, accessible experiences and to amplify word of mouth, especially when it comes to targeting Millennials."

Indeed, a 55% majority of Millennials are "more likely to purchase something" if a friend has recommended it online, falling to 39% for Generation X and 28% among Boomers.

In a parallel trend, 53% of Millennials have asked the opinions of their Facebook friends about potential acquisitions, measured against 31% of Generation X consumers and 17% of Boomers.

Data sourced from JWT; additional content by Warc staff