New research by Snap and Havas Media Network explored how best to create meaningful social shopping experiences for Gen Z and Millennial audiences.

The social media landscape is thriving, representing 4.74 billion users around the world who are active daily on platforms including our own. Shopping for products and services through these platforms is growing rapidly, with social commerce sales anticipated to hit $492bn globally in 2023

To gain a better understanding of how younger shoppers are behaving in the social commerce space, and to help brands create more engaging social shopping experiences for these audiences, we embarked on a global research project in partnership with Havas Media Network, the findings of which were recently revealed in a new report, The Next Gen Social Commerce Playbook.

The research, conducted by Dynata, comprised 28,500 surveys among 13–34-year-olds across the UK, France, Germany, India, Mexico, the United Arab Emirates, and the US. It found, perhaps unsurprisingly, that a majority of younger audiences are embracing social commerce, with 64% of Gen Z and Millennials having made a purchase through social media in the past year. But the journey these shoppers take on the path to purchase is not always a solitary one and often involves multiple layers of interactions, as the research also discovered:

  • The discovery/inspiration phase dominates: 88% of Next Gen respondents use social media to discover new products and 44% use it to evaluate items for consideration and purchase. In the UK specifically, 40% of social media users are purchasing products directly from third-party websites after being directed by a social media app in the past year.
  • Community is integral: 85% of respondents include friends and family in their shopping journey through direct messages, tagging in posts, and attending live shopping events together.
  • Dynamic engagement makes a difference: Over one-third of Next Gen consumers have used augmented reality (AR) and approximately three out of five have attended a virtual shopping event – with 66% of respondents more likely to purchase a product after an AR experience, and over half making a purchase during a live shopping event. In the UK, AR plays an important role in the luxury vertical, with 41% of social media users reporting its importance and 60% of luxury purchasers in the UK report that having a virtual try-on feature is key to driving purchase.
  • Seamlessness rules: At 60%, the biggest engagement drop-off across the social commerce journey is from the discovery phase to the purchasing phase.
  • Technology needs humanity: 81% of Next Gen utilise the AI/chatbot feature, as it provides a ‘shopping buddy’ that delivers on ease and personalisation.

Harnessing these insights, we distilled the learnings from the research into six overarching principles that brands can employ to create meaningful social shopping experiences for Gen Z and Millennial audiences on platforms such as Snapchat:

  1. Pursue Personalisation: Excellent customer experiences incorporate the human touch – whether through personalised guidance during the buying process, tailored buying suggestions and consultation, or stellar support following a purchase.
  2. Action Authenticity: Next Gen carefully choose who they interact with online. They look to friends and family for opinions and advice on planned purchases, making this trusted group a powerful influence, while authentic micro-influencers hit the mark with Next Gen, selected based on their transparency, authenticity, and shared values.
  3. Utilise Ubiquity: Leverage technology to create ‘real-life’ shopping moments that transition seamlessly between the virtual and real world – fulfilling this cohort’s expectation for engaging and futuristic experiences.
  4. Tackle Trust: A secure purchase platform delivering clear and relevant product information and offering connections to real people, with support from discovery to post purchase, builds credibility and instils confidence to make a purchase.
  5. Emphasise Entertainment: Lean into the growing ‘live shoptainment’ space for more holistically engaging shopping experiences that inspire and entertain.
  6. Choose Convenience: A seamless experience provides consumer ease across the entire shopping journey, increasing repeat sales and creating brand advocates.

Social commerce has transformed the way people shop, and none more so than the Gen Z and Millennial audiences. This research highlights the power of technology such as AR and AI to make shopping a fun, inclusive and convenient way for people to discover, try and buy products, and how friends and family influence buying decisions.

We've seen both at work first hand. Since 2021, more than 250 million Snapchatters have engaged with our AR shopping Lenses more than five billion times, and more than half of daily Snapchatters send product messages and pictures to friends during their shopping journey. And with Gen Z and Millennials wielding significant spending power globally, $4.4tn in global purchasing power, and making up over 40% of global consumers, it is essential for brands to harness these insights and activate the experiences that resonate most to capture the attention of these social shoppers.

The Next Gen Social Commerce Playbook research methodology

Havas Media Network collaborated with Dynata, the world’s largest first-party data company, to target this “Next Gen” audience of 13–34 years old that browses and makes purchases through social media platforms, with a bespoke methodology composed of quantitative and semi-quantitative online surveys and qualitative interactive tasks.