Easy as a social shopping spree: The Rise of Social Commerce

While Gen Z are much more aware of when they are being targeted with ads on social media nowadays, this doesn’t deter from the need to have what everyone else does.

It’s official, at Disrupt we have psychic abilities – or we’re just good at what we do, both are pretty cool. As predicted in our 2022 influencer marketing trends report, social commerce is already seeing a huge rise this year as the social media shopping craze continues to flourish. According to an Insider Intelligence report, from 2019 to 2020 the number of US social e-commerce shoppers grew 25% to 80m, a number which is forecast to grow to more than 100m by 2023.

The Early Days

Shopping via social media goes way back to old school YouTube, when OGs such as Zoella and Tanya Burr would review beauty products and they’d immediately be in everyone’s shopping basket at Superdrug. Viral TikToks such as this one from kia_artistry show just how much of an impact creators had on us back then, if the YouTubers had it, we wanted it. It didn’t matter if that shade of lipstick didn’t suit us or a piece of clothing looked ridiculous on us, we were simply jumping on the bandwagon.

While Gen Z are much more aware of when they are being targeted with ads on social media nowadays, this doesn’t deter from the need to have what everyone else does. We highlighted the #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt trend in our trend report, where viewers buy random things such as cool gadgets and life changing mascaras because they’ve gone viral on TikTok. It even causes actual food shortages. When a feta pasta recipe was doing the rounds, shops everywhere were having feta shortages due to everyone and their Nan wanting to have a crack at the recipe (though to be fair, it was insanely good) – that really shows the power of social media.

New Tech

Social commerce doesn’t stop there, it’s only the beginning. TikTok shopping is an in-app shopping experience that allows users to add a shopping tab to their profiles if they have something to sell. In partnership with Shopify, the feature allows followers to browse products without leaving the app. 

It’s now super common to have live-stream shopping on the app too. With mainstream hosts such as Rylan Clark-Neal, TikTok also now has employees who are lead presenters, focusing on live e-commerce shows for brands. Getting other celebs such as Gemma Collins on board, these live streams can also involve games and have huge brands like Charlotte Tilbury and JD sports selling products on them. The app also gives some of its most popular content creators the opportunity to present on TikTok shop. Poppy Hollins and her partner recently hosted, giving their followers exclusive discounts on huge brands for the duration of the live. Driven by these types of live streams, consumer spending in social apps is set to hit $17.2B in 2025. 

It’s like TikTok is literally becoming a search engine. Even at Disrupt, we use TikTok to look for restaurants, team activities etc. All you need to do is click on a hashtag (#londonrestaurants for example) and you have millions of video recommendations with real reviews (check out one of our latest restaurant reviews here by the way).

Shop ‘til you drop!

Instagram also provides a space for some retail therapy. A survey completed by Instagram revealed that as much as 60% of people say that they discover new products via its platform. Much like TikTok, users are able to set up a shop on their IG page. You’ve probably seen the ‘view shop’ button on some of your favourite brands’ accounts – you can browse products on here and even make transactions on the app. There is also an Instagram Shop tab, so users can scroll through all kinds of products and essentially go virtually shopping. Of course IG will tailor the algorithm to you, so you’ll most likely see things you’d be interested in. 

Have you been shopping on social yet? We’d love to hear your thoughts on socials!

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